Gary Zhexi Zhang

What’s your background?

I was born in Suzhou, China and grew up in Birmingham, UK. I actually originally studied painting, but was working far more with film, writing and technologies by the end of my BA. I went on to study literature and theory for a while, and spent much more time with writing. Now I’m somewhere in between, but most of my friends are painters.

What are your artistic influences?

Theorists, especially in media, like Friedrich Kittler or N. Katherine Hayles, and various pseudo-philosophers like Donna Haraway, Michel Serres, Georges Bataille. I take more from writers than by other artists’ work. Though I think I’m most deeply influenced by conversations with friends, other artists, as well as researchers in the sciences, ecology, engineering, and elsewhere. I take a lot of inspiration from people who seek relationships across different spheres, whether that’s in interdisciplinary practices, or between political relations and lived experience.

How do you start a new work?

I have no idea, actually. I usually begin to disown a project as soon as I leave it behind, and making a new work feels like starting all over again every time, not necessarily in the blissfully creative kind of way. Maybe that’s OK. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing to have a style, though I suppose it’s good to have a grasp of some kind of visual language as your foundation. I don’t think I have that, so each new work still invariably begins in crisis.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I am in the middle of a slightly sprawling ‘project’, “a state of erotic communism”, which is ostensibly a video work about distributed forms of organisation, emergence, parasitism, sensory interfaces, and a bunch of other things… It has grown into several texts and some workshops and various things culled from ongoing conversations with many amazing researchers, artists and some biological organisms. It’s getting quite nebulous — right now I’m trying to cut off some of the extraneous tentacles and resolve it all, somehow…