The last time we checked in with Shanghai-based artist Lu Yang, she had produced an experiment that partially reanimated frogs, choreographing them via electrical impulse to perform a sort of Frankenstein ballet.
For her most recent work, Yang has stepped out of the lab and into the comic book store. Her short film The Beast (above) combines high fashion and traditional Chinese medicine to create a tribute film for the greatly celebrated Japanese manga and animation series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (EVA). The highly-anticipated third film in EVA’s Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy just came out last weekend.
If you haven’t seen EVA yet, Yang’s short film may seem a little out of left field, but most EVA lovers will likely get a kick out of this creative real-life recreation of an impossible scene in the second film, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, in which the human-piloted Evangelion robot transforms into a raging beast to oblierate the Angel (see below).
EVA Unit 02 becomes The Beast.
One of the perks of being supported by Dressing The Screen, a fashion film exhibition in Beijing, is that Yang had access to the dark and gothic wardrobes of fashion designers such as Gareth Pugh, Qiu Hao, and Kiroic. We caught up with Yang to find out more about this unusual collaboration:
Creators Project: how did the opportunity to work with these designers come about?
Lu Yang: I had the idea to film this piece since June, but I was so busy that I planned to film it in Japan next year. Then the director, Ye Xiaowei from Modern Weekly, approached me and asked if I wanted to join their fashion film project. So I made the film in a short amount of time. Being not being very knowledgable about high fashion, I shared my ideas with stylist Audrey Hu, then we came up with the look for Sachiel—the third Angel.
Concept board for human version of Sachiel and EVA Unit02.
How did the idea of incorporating Chinese fire cupping came about? Did the actor actually go through the treatment?
Yes, he actually got fire cupped! The doctor in the film is my personal physician and the idea came from my own experience of working in front of a computer for long periods of time. My spine began to deform and I began to have rheumatic problems. So I started accupuncture treatments this June. Whenever the therapist fire cupped my back, the shape of my body reminded me of EVA Unit 02, when she needed to up her fighting capacity and abandoned all humanity to become The Beast. I really wanted to use a real person to perform as Unit 02 beast mode, and that’s why I wanted to make this movie in Japan.
What was the filmmaking process like? Were the members of your film crew EVA fans as well?
I don’t think so. They needed a crash course when I came up with the idea. Only the director of photography saw the series. Some ask if those who haven’t seen EVA would understand the movie. Since this is a tribue, I can only make it the best that I can. If the work always prioritizes the audience’s reaction, it will never be done. I believe that the work will resonate with someone in the audience anyhow.
Will you make more movies in the furture? Any future plans that you can share with us?
A portion of my work has been taking the form of music videos since 2009. I love music and the format also spreads faster and to wider audiences. Some of my videos have reached 5,000,000 views and more, so I still want to keep combining music and visuals. Also, I want to specially thank all the musicians, bands, and composers I’ve worked with! The Beast soundtrack was created by the critically acclaimed composer Du Yun.
Behind the scenes images
Photos courtesy of Lu Yang.