An exhibition by Xin Cheng, 2012
A conversation between Xin Cheng and WD
WD: Why knit socks?
XC: To go to the roots of things, things that surround us. And to have tailormade socks that are comfortable to wear.
WD: The roots? You are what u wear? Comfort and lifestyle design?
XC: Being able to know how things came to be. What you wear influences how you feel.
WD: Influences feeling by design or labour or both or none or other?
XC: Influence feeling by designing for a specific situation, the choice of materials, and the way it is made which expresses a particular way of being.
WD: Will consumer choice set us free or do we have to make our own?
XC: Consumer choices are only made for a generalised public not an individual.
WD: Many products allow for customisation. 3D printing allows for complete control. Does the labour inv in making a sock provide some sense of authenticity in the experience of wearing it?
XC: I think so, a bit like how Hare Krishnas talk about the good karma* that goes into the making of the food by the cook. 3d printing is still inaccessible for most.
WD: Can you program good karma?
XC: Not sure. In programming there’s the idea of utilising the simplest algorithm for efficiency. But that feels like a different thing.
WD: It could almost be the opposite thing. Effiency vs ? Here you realise the paucity of language. Or the dominance of certain tropes. What is a name for the intersubjective quantity that gives a sense of connectedness across space and time? Is there something more precise than love?
XC: Love is far from precise. It is an amoeba. But that’s a problem with words. Perhaps it has no name.
WD: Are you describing efficiency in relation to survival of best fit? The amoeba as proto-adaptation?
XC: Evolution is more about diversity i think. The criteria for the fittest is in constant fluctuation. Thats why monoculture is to be avoided, as it can’t adapt to shifting circumstances
WD: What if you cant knit? Are you doomed for an inauthentic existence?
XC: I don’t think there is a singular way of having an ‘authentic experience’. It’s like different plants having different preferences for habitats. Each for its own.
WD: Do you have an emoticon in mind?
XC: Sorry phone died while walking home – the wave form used to b a favourite.
WD: Something to sleep on – good night
XC: Good idea! good night
*editor’s note: the correct name for the Hare Krishna quality is ‘prasadam’.
Images by Asumi Mizuo
Sustenance was made possible with generous support from Creative New Zealand.