Small talk with Jiang Pengyi

Jiang Pengyi on his use of fluorescent paper, fireflies and more

Jiang Pengyi's Dark Addiction 
Jiang Pengyi is best known for two series of works. He has photoshopped cities under construction into dilapidated interiors, shrinking the urban environment down so it looks like its constituent rubble, a phenomenon known as a fractal, where the same forms repeat on different scales. He has also created haunting blue and green images lit only by melting fluorescent wax. This month, Jiang is showing three new series at ShanghART: Dark Addiction, The Suspended Moment and Intimacy. He tells Time Out about his art.

Why were you interested in shooting fireflies in a camera obscura for Dark Addiction (pictured)?
I have used artificial light to create works before, so this time I wanted to have a change, using the natural light given out by fireflies to expose the film.

Can you introduce the process?
I put the fireflies into the box with black and white films, and let them claw or fly freely. They continued to give a flashing mating beacon to each other which led to the images on film.

How did you make the images of moving water trapped in ice in The Suspended Moment?
Such moments are not created by me, and I don’t even know what they’ll look like in the very beginning when taking these pictures.

Where did you get the fluorescent paper and how do you use it in Intimacy?
Fluorescent paper is a kind of material that gives out light when put into a dark place after absorbing UV light. I bought some on Taobao. It’s different to the fluorescent wax [from my previous works]. 

Your works all seem interested in the lapse of time – though still, they suggest movement or activity. Why have you made this such a focus of your work?
I just make works while there’s still time to do it.

Sam Gaskin