“Critical Spectacles & Wandering Visions: videographic experiments as micro-narratives / Linda Lai
凝神、界外:實驗錄像書寫作為微敘述 / 黎肖嫻

[This essay adapts from, and expands on, a curatorial statement I wrote for a 1-hour program on experimental videography for the EXiM 2015 (Experimental Film & Video Festival in Macau), themed “香港實驗影像活動 Hong Kong Experimental Video Festival in Macao.” It is also a reflection on two other recent events, a conversation I hosted with Jamsen Law and Howard Cheng on video art at the Hong Kong Film Culture Association, and my solo screening at the EXiM 2015.] Chinese version after English 中文版在英文版之後中英版並非兩文對譯,尤其下半部,各有重點。

+The program described here was partially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. 9042111 / CityU 11404614): "Where Else to Look" on alternative screen practices in HK

What makes an artist step out of her/his crammed daily routine to “segment” a chunk of the boundless chaotic flow of the world to form a temporal object thoughtfully organized within a rectangular frame? What impulses or inspirations motivated her taking up of a camera? What desires drove her to work within the frame to give blatant existence a unique sense of order, through camera work and composing?

The presencing camera “constructs” spectacles that otherwise would not have existed and yet always awaiting us as what is potential. This is the primacy of videography. Video as art is not about realizing a planned idea ad perfecting it technically. Video art is a proactive response to the life world. A videographer seeks new relations and new formations. The ‘where’ and ‘why’ of videography often precedes textual content.

Videography with a basic cinematic sensibility often begins with framing with the ‘frame’, the most basic element of moving image, to redeem the world, transforming what has escaped our impoverished attention mode into the realm of perceptual experience with refreshed modes of seeing. The myriads of details now can be described, appreciated, or examined, to enter the realm of the social and the cultural. Video art (re-)constructs the world. Video art produces knowledge.

Videography begins with attentiveness. The videographers “undo” the way they have been pre-conditioned to look, “re-learn” seeing, then, through the (camera) frame’s organizing power, invite their viewers to learn to see differently. Videographer is a seeing game.

As a kind of game, video art requires the mentality of game and play. One needs a bit of a sense of humor and a bit of imagination. Watching a video work is sometimes like riding a roller-coaster, hide and seek, at times like a meditation exercise, walking through a labyrinth with self-imposed restrictions, falling down a hole, dreaming, or … .

The above also informs my pedagogic mentality for experimental art at the School of Creative Media. 

First, any artistic event understood as a videographic experiment questions pure representational value of video and, instead, highlights perceptual experiences, asserting experimental video’s imperative to generate new modes of attentiveness and cognition (ways to make sense of the world).

Second, many works I have made and encouraged in teaching are of an intermedia orientation: the aesthetic range and articulation capacity of videography is the result of thoughtful dialogues with other disciplines, such as gaming, musical composition, poetry, painting, collage, social research and history writing/making. Thinking of video not necessary as cinema’s descendent, but televisions, I find the playing with signals and effects are integral to video art. I’d tend to think of editing, or the so-called post-production, as “composing,” the most intense artistic-creative phase of videography.

Third, there is strong attention on both the vertical and horizontal dimension of “narratives,” that is, the thickness of (sight and sound) description and the vivacity of the trajectory of the image-sound discourse. To me, “narrative” does not equate story, which how the term has been confounded. I argue that “narrative” is a productive and constructive notion for any temporal objects in which the flow in time is important. That includes documentary, abstract animation, a symphony and so on.

My emphasis on the “why” and the “where” suggests, too, that the videographic event of different artists lends to us their multiple views of everyday life, conceptual landscapes and cultural thinking. I hope the personal yet daring exercises of videographic experiments force a few cracks on the stronghold of mainstream moving image conventions, to let in fresh streams of possibilities. (2015.11.21)

是甚麼叫我們從繁瑣紛紜糾纏渾沌的日常生活洪流中冒出來,突發奇想,心有所感的提起攝錄機,對準某一些點,將之收入長方的框架裡?這瞬間發難的割切,建構了源於世界、卻重來沒有存在過的景觀。這是錄像藝術的第一步。重要的不是如何拍好些甚麼已想好的,而是甚麼啓動錄影(或編嵌)行動。錄像藝術是向著生命世界主導、積極、自覺的連結。錄像藝術的發源不是執行或把想法視像化,而是書寫,猶如我手寫我心。

我用「凝神」、「界外」二詞去表述錄像書寫所要求於創作者的用心連結以至於遊蕩於閒實之外,用的是「景框」。「景框」把沈睡、潛在的現實活化,無時無蹤的瑣事閑物翻進可觀可讀可追索的感知領域,延展出文化社會的意義。本來看不見的 - 即視界、專注力以外的 -忽然顯眼起來,撥撩我們的感思。

錄像藝術創造世界,創造知識。

錄像書寫關於專注力,先是創作者擱置「看」的習慣,「重新」學習怎樣看、如何看,透過景框的組織力,給流散的現實賦予秩序;到了觀者的加入,又成了刷新「看」的遊戲。

「書寫」或許只能說明錄像藝術的某一面,強調人與工具同在,手到心到的現場捕捉。同等要求全神貫注的是「編嵌」。「編嵌」不同於「剪接」或所謂的「後期」製作;前者的「剪」是為了「接」,是主流視像要求的現實模擬,後者假設拍攝後的功夫為輔助性。錄像藝術世界裡,「編嵌」猶如作曲、編舞,又像繪畫作詩,是另一種「凝神」,是創作的本身。

錄像藝術是聲與畫、聽與看的藝術。我常常鼓勵身邊的年青藝術家別忘了「無聲」(silence) 為「聲」的一種,為「聲景」(soundscape)的一部分。這其實是要求我們聽得更幼細,看得更精準。

看實驗性錄像需要遊戲心情。過山車?捉迷藏?凝神定念打坐冥想?曲線漫遊迷宮?進入幻境?難以命名?那得看不同藝術家的各有所好啦。

錄像藝術部分源於「實驗電影」對影像和媒體的思考以至承傳,這尤其適用於描述香港的錄像創作發展思維。但也是這個歷史包袱,限制了我們對錄像藝術可能性的想像。外國的錄像藝術故事淵源不一樣,其系譜多標誌電視廣播技術的應用和借取,又社運如何促成錄像的普及化挪用,讓錄像踏出電視台,進入日常生活領域。以電視(類比視頻analogue video階段)為創作與實驗源流的錄像藝術,旨趣在於特效 (special effects) 和視聽訊號傳播過程中(受)「干擾」所劃出的獨有創作空間,注意力不少放在「掃描線」和顏色光暗的校準上。於數碼年代,有了電算 (computation) 的應用,「低」、「微」層次的素材,例如「圖元」(像素)、「灰階」等,成為了實驗的所出,方便了聲影的解拆,現實的模仿與再現以外的錄像創作的玩法更多。在我的教学中,我更多的指向「互媒」的實驗 (intermedia experiments),例如借取作曲的思路去剖開影像的前向或多線並置,又或以散文詩的格局去排序,又或對畫像的厚疊組織進行解構。「微敘述」就在這前提下成為了我的實驗錄像創作的行動代號。起步點就是認真的對待媒體的潛在能量,暫且擱置說故事的方便。

「微敘述」,不敘大事敘小事。從生活、物質、情感的細微處著眼 ,透過手裡工具的鏡法去看。至隱蔽的角落,割下去,暗處湧流著聽不見的震怒。絮語鄹濃,蓋住蓋不住同樣莊重。其間,我或許走漏了眼。看見的世界就眼前的框框四比三,又或十六比九。聽見的,裹袱之後飄揚而遠撲,有疆無界,是一個世界,疊著另一個世界。

錄像藝術在影像藝術、社會上的角色和珍貴價值確實需要我們用一點力去重申∶(1)打開電影創作成規以外的創作空間;(2)重新訓練我們怎樣去「看」,透過錄像張開我們的注意力,活化我們的想像力;這個「我們」先是錄像書寫人,接著是觀看者;(3)令更多被動的「觀者」變為主動的察看者,甚至成為「作者」。

香港人需要放鬆對「訊息」的執著,也就是一看就要懂,拿到重點就跑的習慣。香港人需要多點包容「意義」不一定在於「訊息」,而是可以存在於創作的動機、對機器潛能的發掘、對成規的戲弄。

錄像其實沒有一般人以為的艱澀。看錄像其實是需要一點幽默感的。一個作品意味著一個反抖、叛逆的行動,又或是「看」的遊戲。我覺得香港人接觸錄像的多,認真懂得錄像的「魔法」的少。「藝術」、「實驗」等字詞,因缺乏討論,又由於「訊息」為本的實用、消費心態,引來不必要誤解。錄像藝術不是用來「吃」(訊息)的,而是嬉戲、享受、冒險,意會、消化於肚腹中的。

「凝神」、「界外」。真的希望可以在主流影像製作法則的堡壘的厚牆上敲一段裂紋,透一點氣。(2015.11.12)