[written on 22 June 2018, epilogue for Videography. Micro Narratives. Temporal Beings. Our Manifesto / 2018] ***中文版隨英文版之後。原文寫於2018年6月22日,為《我們的錄像宣言》(2018)的「結語」。

micro | (sight & sound) narratives | vocalization

This project (Our Manifesto) began with “Micro Narratives” (MN), a concept-driven workshop on experimental art with moving images as its emphasis, which I have been running for 15 years, usually welcome by students who are not afraid of “headaches.” I have gone through many shifts in the why, how and what with the workshop series; I pour in my own education in theories and histories of moving images and the arts in general. Through the years, it became increasingly clear to me that MN is not to design a set program on how to do “experimental videos,” but rather to uphold experimental actions and preserve the space for the freedom to find out what one can do. In 2015, I decided that it is of utmost importance to encourage the artists I work with to provide their own reasons and reasoning for, on the one hand, doing experimental art and, on the other, why they must make video and what they may do to keep experimentation alive. This is the context for the writing of a manifesto to go along with 13 weeks’ experimental exercises, starting 2015-2016. “Manifestos” are meant to be entrusting the right of articulations into the hands of the workshop participants. I really want to hear their voices, be they murmurs, stammers, bold assertions, lyrics and poetry, hypothesis or sheer vocalization. This Manifestos project aspires independent thinking and individuated articulations; it aspires character, courage, imperfection without losing self-respect, and self-affirmation with a dose of humbleness, enough to sustain exchange and to accommodate differences.

Perhaps the one who is really still learning to “vocalize” is me. In 15 years, I have turned my thoughts on “Micro Narratives” into various short expositions, and often in the form of editorials or curatorial statements. I feel I have owed myself a big essay to synchronize this on-going thought process, at least to establish the term for myself. But that’s not where my conviction lies. I feel I am almost there but not yet – not in terms of taking time to write or not, but I feel there is still something unknown to myself that has been driving the MN project – other than a faith in the ontology of art, is it also, or more so, an attitude of life, a resistance to forms of power and control I experience outside art, a philosophical quest, a media archaeological interrogation of moving images, or…? I believe they are all here with me. In the past months, it has become clear to me that “Micro Narratives” is already a reality with contestants and defenders. The latter feel magic as they have stepped on a new path or have moved forward with their artistic practices; the former often remark the works produced look too similar, and lacking in direct engagement with urgent issues in society. As such, “Micro Narratives” has already exercised its commitment to raise queries and to assert how important it is not to stop experimenting. Half-jokingly, then, “Micro Narratives” is the code name for “let’s take experimentation seriously.” It upholds a framework that is mutable, theoretically, and for practice. It asks new questions about being in contemporary society, especially as a temporal being. I would not reduce it to a new set of theories with fixed agenda items. This essay, therefore, ends with a chronology that relates the many issues I have worked through, and many still on-going.

Between 2015 and 2016, one full year was spent on making videos, showing them among ourselves (in a group of seven plus me), mutual critiques, self-directed literature and art research, reading theoretical texts, writing our thoughts and so on. The urge to share and make more people make videos freely and in full respect of history and concepts resulted in an ADC emerging artists’ proposal – to publish their manifestos with their works, to mark a phase of their creative history, and to open up more questions rather than to close off possibilities. In December 2016, good news came. The group received a grant sufficient for the project to advance, and I became its adviser, remotely so. The pinning down of one’s thoughts into something shareable became a felt challenge.

manifestos

What is a manifesto? I got asked this question several times in the entire process. I refused to give concrete examples although many came to my mind: the Dada, the Surrealist, the Fluxus, the Situationists International and so on. I would really love to hear them formulate their own purposes and thoughts, not just based on what they aspire to be, but also based on an understanding of what they have already injected into the works they have made. Readers may find the manifestos in this book uneven in styles and modes of expression. But this is deliberate — in order to show variety and differences in personalities. Ann Chim, in around January 2018, told me she was puzzled: she re-read what she wrote in 2016 and found that she had become a very different person. After some brief exchange, we agreed that we should publish the manifestos as a series to mark her shifts. (Missing all the chances to look more into the future with her, Anna passed away in March 2018.) At one point, I felt everyone was over-burdened by the task of essay writing and by citation practices. The suggestion to write in point form in order to communicate, followed by the ongoing essay, was accepted and turned to action.

On the surface level, it seems the Manifestos writing project is anti-mainstream and anti-Hollywood. We know that the only thing we are really against unanimously is uniformity by rule or homogeneity by standard, which stigmatizes differences and destroys the space for doubts and queries. On the most basic level of moving image practices, often in the name of “audience probably do not understand,” many promising trials and errors are deemed wasteful, and genuine thoughts rejected. The manifesto writers here are perhaps all dreamers, seeking to see heteroglossia materialize. It is not exactly about democracy, which requires another project, but simply the basic rights to be, on the level of being able to breathe at ease. The caution of Stiegler, among others, marks the critical edge of this project: a responsible contemporary citizen must not let go of issues of sight-and-sound creations in our digital culture and thoughtlessly assume that is the problem of the artists. Digital culture does not take the form of government, but addresses our affect directly; it is aesthetics as well as sentiments that the marketing logic of the culture industry contains and homogenizes, unifying the way we remember and feel about the past.

an assemblage of voices

Videography: Micro Narratives. Temporal Beings. Out Manifestos shows diverse styles and approaches to video-making and writing, and perhaps that is the most natural, or even necessary, in order to preserve individuality. The editorial process aimed only at preparing texts that are shareable and comprehensible, with basic technical moderation. The production process aimed only to make all authors feel accountable to teamwork. If I may step back for a long take, or rise a little higher to get a fuller view, I see a rhizome with abundant points and complex, stranded networks of connectivity. Yet a few nodal points seem more busily passed through than others, with mild congestions. Here and there, sooner or later, these nodes scream:

“I must create. It is imperative.”

“I now focus on performing my being and my worth.”

“I am more than a dust in the universe. I.”

“I long so much to share my thoughts with others.”

“I have doubts for post-capitalism and neoliberalism’s total merge with technological advancement. Caution!”

“I write with video, I therefore exist.”

“Because of videography, I have studied a bit of philosophy, read a bit of theory, taken a look at works by other artists, learned something about herbal medicine, learned a new software, paid closer attention to my body, re-learned moving and breathing, connected with the alien me while looking into to starlit sky, got more new phones and cameras, read a few poems, rediscovered some classical writings, …”

“Does videography make me love better?”

“I – am I really not different from others?”

They are simply different, and yet with shared convictions. Some of them fully believe in art, substantiate the name, and seek art’s good in society. To some of them, art is a basic right to defend, just like they defend their right to live, passionately, rationally, … Some of them persists in videography similar in nature to drinking and eating, but are also highly aware of the fact that having good water to drink or a fair share of food of equal distribution is not something to take for granted. Perhaps delving into the technical interiority of video making can be consoling. It keeps you there for a long while. But once we lift our head and look around, the vastness of a world out of our control is threatening, and making things work is a lifetime’s commitment and often futile. As we are about to make some sense out of what we have, what seems concrete may suddenly dissipate. What does videography offer? A (safety) net of sorts with points, lines and planes on which one could focus, momentarily, to sculpt and craft. As playful and sarcastic as some of the works are, I feel the tremendous weight asserted. Or magic some may find in video-making – here is where you can make the impossible apparently possible. Build those doors, therefore, like constructing a conundrum: some for yourself the maker and some for the spectator, all opening to the unimaginable.

We have a total of 7 participants in this Manifestos project. Let’s keep it open. As suggested, there are many more manifestos written, and are to me, quite unforgettable:

“I may often fail to suit the world’s order. In Videography, I have more rights and authority.” (Don Tsang, 2015)

”What I have been, is.

Do not try to think what I have thought behind the screen, nor should anyone try to guess one another.

I do not think about you when I make my videos, nor should you think of me when you see my works.

My works are a part of me, but I am not my works.

Videography is a headache. Video fragments walk in their own pace, in their own way, and all I could is to run after them…”  (Winnie Yan, 2015)

==

微 | (聲影)敘述 | 發聲

《我們的錄像宣言》這個計劃的起步是「微敘事」,一個我進行了15年,看來很受那些不怕頭痛的好學生歡迎的、歷史理論主導的實驗性創作工作坊,以活動影像為核心。2003年啟動,每兩年13週,往後,我很快的釐清了我要探索的並不是要建立一個如何做實驗性錄像的系統或完整規劃的課程 (programmed system),而是想鼓勵實驗創作的行動 (experimental actions),維護實驗的空間;若當中充滿了歷史理論的研究,那是因為我相信追尋感知的創造性的張開才正正不能忽略思維概念的珍貴,不能放棄從歷史學習。(創作的人都曉得「理性」的重要性,只有市面上的快速分類才把「理性」冠到科學的頭上,「感性」就留給藝術家或女人。) 2015年,我決定往後無論如何,重點都在於讓年青朋友們發現和擁有屬於他/她們自己的錄像書寫的原因、方法和理據,尤其要找到個人的實驗精神如何切入生活和創作。「宣言」的書寫必須伴隨一個學期的實驗便由此而起。「宣言」,就是把播音器交到有感觸的學生手裏。我真的很想聽到他們的聲音,來自於他/她們肺腑的申述與呢喃,斷續的、滔滔的、還在試聲的。我希望這個世界有更多自主的思維、有個性的聲音;獨特,不畏懼,殘缺而不自卑,謙虛也自我肯定,而且可以互相交往,不介意異同。

其實,不斷在「試聲」的是我。15年過去了,我多次而斷續的把「微敘事」是甚麼寫成短文,從來未感滿意過。對於一手發展多年已漸趨成熟的理論定位,我確實欠了我自己一篇洋洋大觀的文章,在學術語境裡取個位置,讓人引述。我感覺自己正朝著一個重要的方向走,仍在途中,風景佳美,可我還在辨明我的路徑的擺動為何。我那麼用力追求的,是對藝術的本體論的強調?是生活態度?是我對藝術以外的操控性現實的回應與頑抗?我正在一個哲學大觀園的分岔上徘徊?對活動影像在人世間的出現的媒體考古的好奇?也許都有點吧。有人因「微敘事」而有所發現,多走了幾步,又或踏出一大步,也有人問為甚麼搞出來的這些作品的長相都那麼接近,甚至有人認為這些作品對社會、香港的歷史文化政治似抽離而漠不關心。這半年,我卻只在想,「微敘事」早已發揮了它的作用。它並不是一件大不了的事要著書立說,卻確鑿的是我和我們的實驗核心的所在,就像一個特工行動的代號吧。它,是由我努力的理據和歷史回應而生的內化了的態度。它,也是一個可變動的框架;是理念的,也是創作方法上的。它提出新的問題:我們該如何存活於當代社會?從個人的微觀日常出發可以嗎?存在於時間中的我們 (as temporal beings),如何活在時間意識越發被科技調度、統一、操控的年代?這篇後記,我決定用編年紀(年表)的方法,把「微敘事」行動提出過的問題、不同時段的重點列出來,作為這個「宣言」計劃的註腳。我也希望所有穿越過「微敘事」的朋友們發出更多新的問題,由她們的本位出發。

宣 | 言

我們的實驗特工行動看似反主流、反荷里活(或好萊塢),其實我們真正介懷的是「單一」、帶封殺力的標準化,帶著「觀眾不會懂」的旗號為藉口,把眾聲喧鬧的可能性壓平。這不是民主不民主的問題,是軀體的、呼氣運行層次的人性和存在。正如斯格拉蒂 (Bernard Stiegler) 的呼籲,我們斷不能放棄對數碼媒體的創作活動的關注,以為這只是創作人的事,因為二十一世紀的存活,從科技的角度而言人與人之間的距離該是近乎零的了,但事實 – 尤其藝術所意味著的可能性的確實 – 說明了個體的空間是我們爭取回來的。不是「尋回」失喪了的空間,而是就地「創造」空間。

《我們的錄像宣言:微敘事。存在的時間書寫。》本子看來在文章長度風格上不太統一。這也是必然而刻意的。編輯和製作的過程能顧及的其實很基本,避免導致混淆誤解的文稿修理和設計編排,確保不會耽時誤事的工作流程,過程中不免限制了可以更天馬行空的表述。七個年青創作人都有不同的起點,因而走出不同的路徑,不單沿途風景不同,行走模式各異,也大抵上是每個人身體構造不同,對實存於社會空間有不同的行動上的設置,又或對突發因素所觸發的即時反應有異。我想像自己退後一步,或找個鳥瞰點看看他們。錯綜複雜的根莖體裡還是有幾個線路繁忙的結點,誰都想穿過,或早到,或遲一點來,又或迂迴、曲折了很久終於來到。這些結點是甚麼?

「我必須創作。」

「我正在努力展現我的存在和價值。」

「我並不只是宇宙中繁沙的一顆。我。」

「我多麼想與眾人分享我的所思所想。」

「我對後資本、新自由主義與科技的同體高度警戒。」

「錄像在手。我存在。」

「我可以跟世界再接近一點。」

「因為錄像書寫,我唸了點哲學,讀了點理論,瀏覽了從前藝術家的作品,學了點草藥,找了新軟件來試試看,多了點留意我的身體,重新學習呼吸和移動,望著星空聯繫到陌生的我,買了新的手機,讀了幾首詩,翻了一些古籍。…」

「錄像書寫可以讓我愛得更好嗎?」

「我,可以與別人不同嗎?」

眾聲 | 複語 | 聚疊

她(他)們都那麼不同,卻又異常合一。她們當中有些實在享受創作、維護「藝術」的正名,願望藝術真的好,希冀它對世界有正面輸入。對其中一些作者來說,維護藝術、不斷創作猶如維護生存的權利,理論地、情感地鍥而不捨。也有作者堅持錄像創作與吃飯喝水等同,卻又高度意識到不一定有良水可喝,食物的均分來源並不理所當然。或許往工具細藝的內部雕會好受點。可大限過去,退後一步的海闊天空可以是極度的沈寂、虛渺,「存在」搖晃欲墜,忽又無限飛昇。時間的點、線、面是不能失掉的最後的網,在眾人的作品裡,成了雕塑的底。說是反叛,說是反斗嘲諷,只覺他們都用上千斤力。也有魔術/魔法論,因為在錄像書寫的世界裡,不可能的都可能,如何寫、怎樣讀,都像一扇又一扇的門所開啟展示的,總有意想不到。

這個「宣言」計劃經過了長長的兩年。2015至2016期間,七個從「微敘事」走出來的年青人希望可以繼續鑽研,作彼此創作上的伴。2016年的春天,是持續的創作、研討、看別人的佳作、讀書、寫字、對大家的新動作進行批判。「宣言」的發表似乎給了我們具體的方便,否則一個學期的談話,除了打個分換到三個學分之外,便會隨風而散。申請藝發局的新苗計劃速成了大家需要作個人總結的決心。2016年12月,好消息傳來,款項獲批了,計劃真的要實行了。又過了一整年,蹣跚的寫,重寫,結集。我就遠距離的陪著。各人也有各人的新生活。遊歷的、進研究院的、成為業界一份子的、尋找另類生活方式的。中間,我聽過幾次的提問,何謂「宣言」?有典範可從嗎?當然我的腦海裡立刻湧現的有達達主義、超現實主義、Fluxus、國際情境主義等等,但我極力制止自己做出這樣的介紹。我最想的,是大伙兒一起發明「宣言」的寫法。宣就是宣告、說出來。言,是可以簡單記住的話、可依從的行動方針化為語言。這本來就是最平實簡單不過的。2018年1月,詹可瑩說她很掙扎,因為回頭讀自己2016年寫的宣言,感覺遠去,就像聽著一個陌生人在發誓。這樣也好。宣言產生了時間的記錄。後來,我和她同意,就把2016-2018的三個宣言都發表。後來,我們都約不到坐下來詳談的時段,我只知道她在嘗試新的東西,學新的軟件,要從她的大前年、前年、去年蛻出來。再後來,她忽然離開了世界。2018年三月。

這專輯裡參與過的創作人共七位。但途中我碰過的、銘記的還有不少。結語前擰來了兩段,會心一笑,繼續打開。

也許我往往不能按準世界的秩序失之於交臂。錄像書寫世界裡,我卻有絕對的權利和決定權。(曾旭熙,2015)

曾經的我,現在是。

別嘗試猜想我的框景背後的所思,也別這樣去彼此猜想。

我造這錄像時其實並沒有想過你,所以你也不必看到我的錄像時想及我。

我的作品固然是我的一部分,但我不是我的作品。

錄像書寫其實是頭痛的事。錄像碎片有它們行走的速度、姿態,而我,頂多是跟隨它們走。(忻慧妍,2015)

 

Related Reading 相關閱讀:

“Videography. Micro Narratives. Temporal Beings. Our Manifestos” -Book Launch | 「我們的錄像宣言:微敘事。 存在的時間書寫。」- 新書發佈會

http://floatingprojectscollective.net/events/videography_micro_narratives_temporal_beings_our_manifestos/