Digital America interviewed Ai-Chun Huang in April of 2024 on her works Crowded Dreams and Manipulation of Life.


Digital America: In Crowded Dreams, you show a paper calendar with decades disappearing one by one—representing pressure to follow a strict personal timeline of success. How does the culture perpetuate this “advancement”? How do you portray this pressure through your work?

AI-CHUN-HUANG: This animation is talking about my life story and culture background. I am always a well-behaved girl and listen to my parents, teachers, and elders opinions. I didn’t even doubt my path until I became a public school teacher and my life is full of discipline and obedience, and I was always busy with accomplishing my life goal. When I get pressure from my endless workloads then I start to doubt myself and try to find a way out of this repetition and chaos. This also became my art inspiration to make this animation. I was raised in a very typical Asian family which my parents believe if you work hard, and you can succeed. It is also what they believe and learn from their background. Even since I grew up, I feel that pursuing my life success is the key value to fit into the group, and I found out I rarely get the positive recognition and encourage from my parents. They are the parents who want me to improve and mostly only mention about my disadvantages. That’s why I always looking for some recognitions from others. Actually, my story is a minimized reflection of this society.

When I took maternity leave from my teacher job, then I started to have some free time to make some artworks. I reflected on myself and found out I really wanted to say something about my story. However, it is always hard to start with. The animation series began with several small paintings. At that time, there was a big animation competition with a good prize, and that’s how I started the motivation to make the animation, because I just want to win the prize. Luckily, I knew some basic skills of After Effects software because of my visual design background. I began to collect my painting images into a moving poem. Just like making a short video and telling a good story. Actually, it was a very realistic purpose at the beginning, but it really led me to dive into this art practice journey. In the end, I really got the big prize. That also encouraged me to explore the digital media more, and it also triggered me to add timeline into my painting and think about the skills to make a good story telling.

▲《The Holy Mountain》 13x18cm, digital printing , 2016

It was how this animation series began.

▲《The Holy Mountain》2D animation, 2018 (Video : )


▲ I got inspiration from my city’s memory icon.

DigA: The animated patterns such as high rise buildings, apartment windows, and overall repetition in your works such as Crowded Dreams and Manipulation of Life are very immersive and crucial to the effectiveness of your short films. They make the audience feel as if they are amidst the bustling city. How do you use these patterns to get your message across? What do you hope to achieve with these repeated motifs?

ACH: Because I grew up in a busy city which was just like what I depicted in my animation. I witness the urbanizing transformation of my hometown, Taiwan. Endless repetition of apartment units occupied my eyesight year by year. I originally could see a part of the mountain far away from my room window when I was little, but as the years went by, the scenery became a concrete jungle mountain. I also put this “urban sprawl” interpretation in my another animation, The Holy Mountain. I used my artworks to tell my story and it is also a collective memory from lots of people who also experienced the over-developing urbanization, and the buildings are just rapidly topping up within a few seconds, which is why I combined mobile phone scrolling gestures with these endless rising buildings together. I would like to remind myself how many desires we want and the human’s greediness of humans that were stuck in this crowded city. Besides, I am so fascinated by those repetitive patterns because they have a very strong idea to overwhelm people’s brain and eyes, so it is another way to remind people of overwhelming information, work tasks, duties, desires, expectations……too many things come into your brain like a bombardment.

DigA: What is your process for planning the theme and subject of each film?

ACH: I would say the most important step is experiencing my life and finding inspiration from my daily life. My art practice focuses more on social limitations and expectations from my female Asian perspective. I struggle for a long time to reflect on my life path and how to be a better self in my several roles, such as being a daughter, student, employee, mother, and wife. In the end, to live my life is the first step to determine my art project direction. The next step, I usually collect my life ‘s videos, photos, audios, words, or any cool art references online. Just any related resources on my hands will turn into my art materials, and then I will organize these meaningful stuff into a story. I like to use the strategy of metaphor and collage to combine these materials, and also realize the scenes from my memory or make them surreal from my imagination or metaphor. I usually will make a draft of the animation storyboard, then move to the computer to edit all the still images. Then transfer them into the after effect to make them alive. As for the music, I usually find some free copyright music to match my animation, however, there will be some limitations for matching the rhythm and visual movement. I am also looking for some musicians to collaborate with currently.

DigA: You have done a number of collaborative works such as coordinating an art festival at Taichung First Senior High School and working to create an impressive Driftwood Sculpture with a number of other artists. Would you say that you enjoy work that is more interactive with others or prefer to focus on solo projects?

ACH: I enjoy both of them. I am very flexible to work with people and explore all kinds of possibilities. I enjoyed expressing my ideas to the public and convey positive thinking and my ideas through my perspective. Especially, making connections with locals and making my artwork talk to people really practice the true meaning of being an artist. I strongly believe that art needs the audience to be discussed and interpreted from different perspectives in order to create a thought-exchanged environment.

When I do my solo art project, I can dive deeper to my self-reflection. As for the public art projects, I enjoy meeting different people and making larger scale projects. There is always something unknown waiting for me. I am so grateful and joyful to choose art practice as my life career. No matter which way, it is all helping me find myself and try my limit, extend my skills, honestly face myself and complete myself through my art practice.

DigA: What are you currently working on now? What do you hope to work on in the near future?

ACH: I currently work as an UX designer in a marketing company in Seattle. During weekends, I go back to my artist role to do my art project. I am open to all kinds of collaborations with other artists and communities, such as public art. It is always fun to keep me making something new and enrich my artworks in so many different territories. My recent art project which I am still working on is “The journey of my baby and I”. I combined my UX design and motion design skills with my art practice to make an interactive website.

On the first page of this website, you can open the suitcase and click those objects and trigger those animations. The suitcase is also a metaphor to show my life’s journey traveling around the world, and to await people to unbox it and read my story. It’s about a mother’s life journey, and it tells my female role transition to be a mother. I collected valuable and poetic moments, like my baby moving with heart-beating in the womb, a time tunnel showing women’s different roles. Here is the link for this art project of the current process.

I’m a nomad artist who likes to travel, even with my kids. I really like to combine traveling and art practice together. Traveling the world can help me input new inspirations, and creating art is to output what I absorb and digest from my body. I was trained for art practice for 20 years, and art became a major way to express myself and my life perspective. I feel so much joy and self-achievement through making art, and I will keep moving and see you on the roads.


Check out Ai-Chun Huang’s work Crowded Dreams and Manipulation of Life.


 Ai-Chun Huang is a multimedia artist, specializing in experimental animations, painting, digital installation, or any inspirational resources wherever and whenever. She Has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including those at the CICA museum in South Korea, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, C-LAB(Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab) and Pier-2 art center in Taiwan. She currently works as the art director for my own art & design studio ”Little Hope Creative Studio” in Seattle.