andrew huang

Andrew Huang is an artist filmmaker who lives and works in Los Angeles.  His studies in Fine Art and Animation at the University of Southern California have allowed to achieve a lot of success in his young career.  Andrew Huang’s work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art NYC, the MoMA PS1, The Barbican Centre in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and more.  His films could be described as experimental; a bridge between video art and film.  Andrew Huang has built a reputation and has worked with many artists, including Icelandic artist Bjork.  I really enjoyed learning more about the books behind Andrew’s incredible work.  Please enjoy my interview with creative filmmaker, Andrew Huang…

When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?

I tell them that I am a Filmmaker.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

I think it might be Richard Scary books or The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

the bluest eyeIf you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  I was 15 when I first read The Bluest Eye and it just gutted me.  It was the first time I had read anything that I could identify with in that it featured a character who dreamed of being anywhere else other than in her own skin.  It’s a great book for anyone who feels caught negotiating the cross-section of their own body, race and gender.  Morrison’s world is simultaneously so lush and sensual and yet violent and tragic.  It’s just a beautiful story about a girl whose simple desire is to be loved.

Did you demonstrate an affinity with art as a child?

I always drew as a kid.  I was obsessed with nature books and would always be trying to translate what was in my head onto paper.  I was always really into craft making.  It was my safest form of play and provided a refuge from rough and tumble sports that other boys did.  I learned how to make puppets when I was 9 when a couple of Jim Henson puppeteers came to my school and taught us how to make puppets out of industrial grade materials.  My parents were supportive and I couldn’t stop sculpting puppets for a few years.  Then when I was around 11 or 12 I realized I could make movies with my home video camera, and made the conscious decision that I could do this for the rest of my life.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

The worst job I’ve had was probably a project where I was trying to animate something funny for an ad agency.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring artist?

My advice would be to recognise that creating and analysing are two separate processes, don’t let the latter trample the former.  Make a product and sell/market the hell out of it.

Who would you say are the three artists that continue to inspire you?

Albrecht Durer, Allison Schulnik and Hieronymus Bosch.

Do you read as much as you’d like to?

No, I would like to be able to read more.

storyWhat books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee.  Screenwriting how-to books tend to be quite dull but McKee’s is undoubtedly the most well known and entertaining guidebook out there that just gives you the basics on what a lot of great storytelling has in common.  It’s just like eating your vegetables and having a bit more fun while you’re at it.

Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  It’s courageously dark.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson or Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.  It’s mostly a recommendation for my queer family.  It’s a haunting account of that aching feeling of desire, and is a brilliant re-imagining of Geryon, one of Greek mythology’s incidental monsters, turning him into a lonely, sensitive and longing creature eternally tantalized and tormented by his ex-lover Herakles.

Do you think there is a relationship between books and art?

Books are made from text; text is formed from the synaptic relationship between two or more words resulting in meaning.  Art also relies on the syntax between signifiers in order to forge meaning.  Both art and books involve the selecting and ordering of our reality.

What’s your favourite genre of book?

The genre I read the most is academic/theory.

What do you think a world without books would be like?

Idiocracy.

Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?

Anne Carson.  She’s such a poet and has a fascinating handle on ancient Greek mythology and finds dazzling ways of weaving her knowledge into compelling, heart-wrenching stories.

What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?

I think the world needs books on ecological theory and sci-fi.  As climate change is our most urgent existential threat, we need to be reading about the problem, educating ourselves and finding new ways to envision a sustainable future, hence thinking sci-fi future forward.  Fixing a problem as vast and complicated as climate change requires us to form a new ecological vernacular.  This is why literature and language about the issue is so important.

What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

the buried giantAre there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, Divine Horsemen by Maya Deren, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, Psychomagic by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?

The Red Book by C.G. Jung, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler.

If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?

Muppet Show.

If you’d like to learn more about Andrew Huang, you can find him on his website, Facebook and Twitter.