A hurricane, power outages, gasoline shortages and freezing weather conditions – we couldn’t have picked a worse time to ask New York-based animator Saiman Chow to talk about his neighbourhood. We were pleasantly surprised, then, when Saiman got back to us sharing some of his favourite local places.
Born in Hong Kong, Chow immigrated to the US in his teens to study illustration. Since then he has turned himself into a multi-disciplinary artist, director and designer, and most recently collaborated with Gotye on a live visual/music video for his world tour.
Which neighbourhood do you live in?
I live in a neighbourhood called East Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.The area is predominantly a Hispanic community and is very diverse, as is most of Brooklyn . During the summer our street is very active, numerous street fairs and parades happen with great frequency right below our window. It’s a very festive and culturally rich environment.
What is the name of your street?
Where do you spend most of your free time?
I spent a lots of time in the studio working and when I have free time I usually hang with my girlfriend, we go see shows at museums or galleries.
What’s the best thing you’ve come across this week?
Earlier this week I ate live octopus at a Korean restaurant with some friends. The freshly severed tentacles are still wiggling when the plate is served, their suction cups can inflict possible health hazards by stucking onto your throat if you are not careful.
You’ve just directed and animated the new ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ video for Gotye’s world tour, was this all done in your New York studio?
I was fortunate enough to have great support from the generous folks at Blacklist. Blacklist is a production company based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan that represents me and helped to produce the project. The whole piece was completed at their studio.
What makes you miss home most when you’re away from home?
Do you think your work is influenced by having grown up in Hong Kong?
Yes, I do think my work is influenced by my Chinese upbringing, both consciously and subconsciously. Hong Kong is a giant melting pot of cultures and histories that makes it a very special place. We borrow a lot from pop culture from our Japanese neighbors and we were colonized by the Brits until 1997. Recently I’ve been working on more personal works that reflect my experiences growing up in Hong Kong and my position as an immigrant; I’m fascinated by chinese mythology, rituals and symbolism.
Where’s the first place you would take someone visiting for 24 hours?
Dim Sum in Chinatown.
What’s your best memory here?
I would say my first snow storm in New York was pretty memorable. The only place I ever lived was Hong Kong and Los Angeles prior to New York. It was amazing to see the city transformed by a white blanket of snow. It felt magical, New York is always doing magical things.
Check out more of Saiman’s beautifully surreal work at www.saimanchow.com
Interview by Zara Miller