Frank Yang (born in Taiwan) is an artist and bodybuilder that has made a name for himself with his impressive physique, abstract pieces (primarily photos and videos) and knack for philosophizing about psychology and spirituality. Using YouTube as his primary vehicle, Frank has successfully translated his dynamic persona into thousands of subscribers and millions of views.
Some of the activities Frank performs have gotten him in a bit of hot water. No stranger to public indecency (sexuality is a recurring theme in much of his work), he has made it quite clear that he is willing to "go there" in order to express the volatile creative energies within himself.
I spoke with Frank about the intellectual components of bodybuilding, the highly sexual nature of his work, and the motivations for his public stunts.
Prox: Has fitness changed the way you approach your spiritual, artistic, and intellectual endeavors?
Frank: Yes, I think lifting weights and meditation are very similar. Meditating for long hours is like running a marathon, and certain meditation techniques remind me of grinding through heavy weights and tearing apart your muscles while covering a torn down gym in sweat and blood. Interestingly, I recently went to a 10 day silent meditation retreat, and a lot of people who signed up for the ego-death prison camp do deadlifts, a few are even into vertical jump training!
Meditation is all about training your mind to be sharper and more aware; to re-direct your awareness to a desired object, whether it’s your breath, your muscles, or the content of your own brain. This is just another way to talk about training the mind-body connection. Vipassana meditation is very physical. You scan your body with your consciousness - from the top of your head to your toes until every muscle, every cell, and eventually every atom in your body breaks down into a field of vibrating sensations. When you get to this non-dualistic stage of inner perception, your body, mind, and reality become indistinguishable. This is very useful when I am lifting weights. When I train chest, I have to direct my awareness and “think” about the pectoral muscles contracting. The more awareness you can apply to the given muscles, the more neurons from your brain will be called upon to connect and contract the muscles, and as a result, the more room there is for growth.
In spiritual, intellectual, and fitness endeavors, you are always aiming to transcend the current version of yourself; to pack on more muscle, to add more grey matter, and so on. There’s also the factor of discipline. Setting and accomplishing goals and overcoming difficulties, despite setbacks, carry over from one field to the next. I always say if my mom never forced me to play the violin at the age of 5, I would never have jumped 40 inches and gotten shredded. Another element is the skill of visualization and concentration. Having an imaginative mind is one of the most important factors in having a good vertical jump or lifting heavy weights. The ability to visualize your motor outputs as clearly and distinctively in your mind is essential because when you actually perform these motor skills in real life, you are already primed to do so.
Kelly Baggett has mentioned that most explosive athletes are right brain dominated…in other words they are good visualizers who can hold clear images in their minds of what they wish to create or become. They have practiced their movements over and over again in their minds, and their neurons are already firing and connecting to the movements themselves in precise patterns and structures as they are when you are actually performing the movements in real life with your body.
I’ve realized that there is little difference between making sculptures and performing a big vertical jump. In both endeavors, you are transferring what you visualize creatively in your mind into actual reality. The better you are at generating, producing, and manipulating these images in your mind, the better your “products” in reality will turn out to be. In sculpture, the products are of course, the sculptures themselves. But in lifting and in jumping, the product is the self, which you have primed and crafted in your mind. I jump with my mind, not with my body.
Prox: What has changed about your approach to fitness after you got into meditation and philosophy?
Frank: What’s more important to me now is the phenomenological aspect of bodybuilding. How the fluctuating sensations of lifting weights feels like from the inside moment by moment instead of how it is visually and statically distributed in the space outside. Meditation has taught me that inner subjective experience is in some ways more "real" than the presupposed objective reality of appearances. I now look at my body as a virtual spacesuit that I slide on so I can lucid dream more smoothly in this thing we call reality. It's also pretty handy when I meet female humans who have holes in their suits so I can stick mine in there whenever I need to pee or pump gas. But the main purpose for the suit is to establish connection with people who still believe in the separate self and the solidity of body parts or the contour around the body.
Prox: Much of your film work is very abstract and highly sexual. Why have you chosen this particular style and subject matter as the basis for most of your work?
Frank: The most direct answer is that I love sex so I think about it a lot, and as a result those thoughts and feelings about sexuality get transferred directly into my work. My videos are nothing more than a direct representation of my psyche. It’s hard for me to find any source of inspiration other than my internal reality and monologue. My videos are also a kind of a “release”. You can call it 'sexual transmutation’ if you want. If I can’t get laid, I have no choice but to transfer my sexual energy from my penis, through my spine, and all the way to my brain until I mentally ejaculate. That’s why my video outro from 2 years ago was “drink my mental cum”. When you watch my videos, you are basically letting me cum on your brain.
After I release a video into cyberspace, I've usually stopped thinking about the ideas and images presented in it. The feeling I get from finishing up and uploading my videos is very close to the peaceful and serene state of mind one experiences after orgasm. Lastly, my videos are a kind of self-therapy. I was addicted to pornography and sex until the beginning of this year. The way to deal with my addiction and psychological traumas is to turn them into a video, so I can “objectively” look at, dissect (through video editing), and hopefully heal them from a perspective outside my own brain. It’s hard to see clearly the root and the cause of your problems when they are all tangled up and scrambled inside of your brain.
Prox: You’ve been involved in some pretty interesting situations in public. Posing almost naked in populated city centers, vaping in the gym, and even posing as a shirtless greeter at clothing stores that you have no affiliation with. What are you trying to say when you pull these stunts? Is there a deeper meaning behind it or is it just for the lulz?
Frank: 95 percent of those videos are done spontaneously. I almost never think about whether it means something or if it’s “Art”. If I feel an impulse to do something, I do it. Because if I don’t, I get blue brains. I think those videos represent the raw creative process more so than the videos that are more thought out and planned. To me, true creativity doesn’t come from memory, logic, or planning. It comes from the void; the stillness beyond the thinking mind. In that sense, I think my creative process is similar to the way The Joker destroys things and kills people. He just “does things”, and I don’t really think about the consequences or how the work will be perceived; whether those videos are funny or deep doesn’t interest me. They are just labels other people attach to them afterwards. Sometimes I would write an artist statement as an accompaniment to those videos to try to sound 2deep4u. That’s just for my own amusement. I think that’s where the real lulz is.
Prox: What do you hope your videos do for those who are suffering?
Frank: Some people message me and tell me that when they are depressed, they watch my videos over and over again but I hope they don’t just stop at my videos. My real purpose is not to impose any ideas on you, but for you to think on your own and make your own art.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Frank: I’m more influenced by thinkers than artists. I like Schopenhauer, Osho, and Diogenes.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Frank: I like eating sleeping pills when I’m already feeling very sleepy.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Frank: Make art that would please your ten year old self.
Prox: Information on upcoming releases and projects?
Frank: I’m putting together a book and it’s not going to be an eBook. It’s a collection of my photographs, writings, Tinder convos, and dream journals. I’m 350 pages into it and I think I will put this interview in it as well.
You can learn more about Frank and subscribe to his channel, here.
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