SAAFF 2019, Staff Blog
Jyun Jyun Dives into New Narratives Between Cultures
February 20, 2019
By Yaoyao Liu
Louis Chinn is a musician, multi-media artist and educator who creates audio-visual installation work and recordings under the name Jyun Jyun. In his artist statement, he describes his work as exploring “new narratives of migration and diaspora, meditations on the connection between culture, people and place in our increasingly interwoven, global culture.” The themes of ancestry, nature, and transformation come through in his work, which does not reduce or homogenize in its pursuit of connecting its audiences. Watching his performance at the 2018 Seattle Asian American Film Festival Opening Night last year, I was struck by how he created rich visual narratives with touchpoints that address themes in diasporic Asian identity.
His choice of visuals also speaks to those who, like Chinn himself, live between cultures. During his performance, formations of butterflies graced the screen, designed by Jyun Jyun’s partner and dancer, missTANGQ. As I watched their hybrid performance that combined videography, dance, and music, I thought of butterflies as a symbol of the natural world. But in hearing sounds of traditional East Asian instrumentation woven into the song, my mind the jumped to butterflies as representing love in Chinese culture. It made me think of reading the story of The Butterfly Lovers in a college Chinese class, which was one of my early steps in learning more about my own heritage. Jyun Jyun’s performances articulate how layered those ideas of belonging and family history can be. By designing performances that tie together elements of visual art, music, and digital technology, the moments that make up the duration of a song somehow begin to lengthen and deepen for the audience.
Not only does Jyun Jyun refashion and explore eclectic references, from acoustic strums to electronic beats, but Chinn works across a variety of different media. As a teaching artist, he has led community mural projects that highlight the cultural wealth in Seattle’s many neighborhoods, especially focusing on histories of activism and social struggle in communities of color. His 2017 installation in the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s historic Garden Court titled Future Ancestors reflects his ability to interweave opposites like in his music. Against an outer-space backdrop, animal-headed figures appear to prance and celebrate. Some sections feature scraggly twigs against buoyant clouds. Chinn’s work as Jyun Jyun and as a visual artist reflect a curious thoughtfulness and a talent for creating highly immersive experiences for viewers.
I’m really looking forward to Jyun Jyun’s upcoming performance at the 2019 Seattle Asian American Film Festival’s Opening Night. He and missTANGQ will be joined by rocker Japanese Breakfast and rapper Ruby Ibarra. The festival itself highlights the best in recent Asian American independent filmmaking, which covers many of the intersectional and contemplative themes that Chinn explores in his art and music. Get your tickets now!
Learn more about Louis Chinn / Jyun Jyun: