This has never happened before. I don’t really know how to proceed. It is the internet age after all and who does interviews in person anymore? What small media outlet can afford to send a staff writer and photographer anywhere these days, let alone out to Singapore, where despite the allure of talking to burgeoning multi-media artist Adeline Tan about her paintings and illustrations, one cannot even chew gum or find porn in a 7-11? So far as we here at HESO Studio can glean is that she has been taken hostage by her own creation, Yellow, a charming mustard stain with aggression issues who pops up all over town, invited or not.
In the following Skype Chat excerpt, Adeline goes on to describe her relationship to Yellow:
HESO: There was some controversy concerning an appearance Yellow made. What’s that about?Adeline: A friend was having a show and I wasn’t in town. At the end of the night she saw Yellow’s face plastered on the wall. She thought I snuck in and did it, but I was like, ‘That’s not me man, I’m overseas!’ Someone printed up Yellow from the Internet, cut him out, and guerrilla graffiti’s him without me even knowing.
HESO: So he – is it a him? – so he has a life of his own. You must get asked all the time, how did you meet?
HESO: Well, how did you meet?
Adeline: Ok, I was just like working, you know, but actually I was dozing off at my desk in my cubicle. And he just walked past.
HESO: Sleeping at your cubicle?
Adeline: I ate too much, got sleepy and that’s how we met.
HESO: This is at TCCG? – What does that stand for by the way? – It’s cool to sleep at work?
Adeline: The Ching-Chong Group. My bosses have spent a long time in the industry, got tired of agencies with white peoples’ names, so they named themselves TCCG: The Ching-Chong Group. And yes, no one cares if I sleep at work. My job is just to draw. So I go to work and draw, then I go home and draw.
HESO: That’s not a bad gig. Then you go home and draw the “Salarymen” or the “Half A Person” series, for example, both of which possess definite references to Japan. What impression do you have of Japan?
Adeline: Japan is quite strange, in a good way. It’s like a live anime. It’s easy to understand how anime and manga exist because they (the Japanese) live like that everyday. That’s the society they created.
HESO: What does Yellow think of Japan?
Adeline: He likes Suica. The penguin, you know…
HESO: Is there a Suica giftshop?
Adeline: There is, and Yellow didn’t want to leave…
HESO: No one ever wants to leave that place.
Muffled growls and footsteps, followed by a soaring sound – presumably Yellow performing a Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka move on Adeline. Sounds of wrestling and flying sheets of paper, paint splattering, pencils clattering to the ground.
Adeline: Ok, I’m back. He was getting jealous of you, I think. He’s just hungry, wants some fries.
HESO: In a town full of exotic food choices and plentiful restaurants and street food stalls his favorite food is fries. Really?
Adeline: Singapore food is quite cheap, so you just go out anywhere. Fries are just that something different. I’m always hungry.
HESO: O.K., heh, any plans for new exhibitions?
Adeline: Just working for my friend, doing posters for a music festival.HESO: How do you come up with your ideas?
Adeline: I just do it man. We come up with an idea and we do it.
HESO: Is that different from work?
Adeline: Oh man, it’s so different. Things we could do in a day, take months.
HESO: Yeah, that’s the modern world. You must be patient.
Adeline: I’m patient. Yellow is not. He’s asking who are you and why are you on trains all the time? He wants some fries.
HESO: That’s interesting, because a lot of your work has a kind of gracefulness to it, a very patient quality, if you will.
HESO: And then there is the “Facebook Facts Illustrated” piece, which is just awesome by the way: a Mermaid Chuck Norris, Hip-Hop Unicorns, Bowling Ball Head Man, Marilyn Monroe in front of an overturned Campbell’s Soup Can (& Yellow drinking Champagne…of course), and all of it inside a massive “cheezburger”…it pretty much sums up all pop culture for the last 60 years.
Adeline: Yeah, I guess. Thanks.
HESO: It seems like my idea of what Singapore must be like: crowded, with food and people hanging around everywhere, somewhat absurd post-modern references, all within a framework of authoritarian rule.
Adeline: Yes, they are strict here. No porn, no chewing gum. No blood, sex, gore, or anything like that. You will die for a small amount of drugs. There is a 500 dollar fine for not flushing public toilets…
HESO: How would they find you?
Adeline: That’s what I want to know. There are these plainclothes, middle-aged men stalking you, but they are easy to spot. Yeah, Singapore has like zero unemployment.
HESO: Hmmm, do you feel followed?
Adeline: It’s so crowded here, you don’t need to feel followed to be followed.
HESO: I thought Tokyo was bad. Where do you see Yellow in five years?
Adeline: No idea. He just lives for today. He’s a dangerous man.
At this point in the interview, a series of muffled squeaks are heard and Adeline no longer responds. Only a very quiet, yet very manly voice — presumably Yellow’s — comes on skype and begins chanting, “Look at me! Look at me!” louder and louder. At this point the following file was sent via skype file share, then the session abruptly ended. HESO has not heard from Adeline. We hope that she is alive and well and making more dangerous art. This time, take out the plainclothes gum cops.
This interview is part of HESO Magazine’s ongoing Summer Interview Series, where we interview photographers, musicians and artists about their work and what they think about the world of 2012. We may ask them similar questions, but the answers have been anything but the same old canned responses. Check out the entire series here.