Chinese Associated Press Videographer to Graduate with UT Fine Arts Degree

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For University of Tennessee, Knoxville graduate student Harrison Huaqing Pang, video production is both a science and an art.

Pang, who is graduating this month with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Art, specializes in video art installations, using the training and experience he received as a broadcasting technician and videographer for the Associated Press.

Pang worked in the AP bureau in Beijing, China, both before and during the 2008 Summer Olympics, shooting and editing video and transmitting it via satellite to the world.

“It was quite an extraordinary experience,” Pang said. “The AP, as well as all other major media, had done a lot of advance planning for covering the Olympics, so I had been part of that planning. Even though I had already quit the AP and come to UT, I went back and helped with coordinating satellite uplinks during the Beijing Olympics.”

Prior to working at the AP, Pang graduated from the Communication University of China with a bachelor’s degree in digital art with a concentration in digital video technology. He came to UT in 2007 with his wife, Rachel, so they could both attend graduate school. After he arrived, he began to explore the artistic value of video production.

“Even though I was heavily involved in the technical engineering aspects of television production, I have always kept an interest in the aesthetic value of video as a medium of artistic expression,” Pang said. “So I decided to pursue an advanced degree from the beginning. I could have studied mass communication, but I decided to pursue a fine arts degree here at UT instead.”

Pang said the two fields use the same video production technology, but instead of the broad scope of mass communication, he wanted to explore “the focused, narrow personal expression that comes with art.”

As a graduate teaching associate in the School of Art, Pang taught undergraduate classes in video and cinema as art as well as establishing a digital image inventory for the school.

He and Rachel, who works in the Department of Chemistry, have produced videos for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Communication and Information. Away from the university, Pang organized four Handheld Film Festivals at the Downtown West Regal Cinema in Knoxville for students to showcase their pieces. He also has displayed his video installation work and photography at UT’s Ewing Gallery on campus and Gallery 1010 in downtown Knoxville.

Pang’s MFA thesis show, “Samsara,” features a video projected onto a collection of screens arranged like the traditional Tai Chi symbol of a circle surrounded by eight rectangles. “Samsara” is Sanskrit for the cycle of birth, death and rebirth within Buddhism and Hinduism, and refers to the common human experience of passing through the big and small pains and sufferings of life. The nine-minute video includes images of Pang, his wife, scenes from Knoxville and archival footage from China.

“This piece expresses my concerns about all the things that happen around me,” he said. “There’s happiness, there’s sadness, there’s agony in life, and I wanted to express that through the representation of Tai Chi, a traditional symbol in China for many thousands of years.”

Pang said he’s open to any professional or artistic opportunities he can find after graduation, but he hopes to be able to stay in the area.

“I love Knoxville,” he said. “Coming from a big city like Beijing, there is a huge difference. Knoxville is small in comparison and can be uneventful from a journalism perspective, but I find peace here, and that is important.”

View more examples of Pang’s art at http://www.harrisonpang.com/.

C O N T A C T :

Harrison Pang (hpang@utk.edu)

Rachel Rui (865-974-3141, jrui@utk.edu)

Charles Primm  (865-974-5180, charles.primm@tennessee.edu)

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