“…I am still not very used to carrying a camera. Scenes captured in the footage do not have little similarity with what I actually saw on the spot.” Winnie Yan, curator for “Back & Forth,” recalls her videography one year ago.
“(…) I am constantly in a state of searching for some ‘clues’ in this class, both the things I see and hear, as they are very different (sometimes overwhelming) yet I always feel like there is something missing that makes me a little disconnected here and there. (…) I just don’t feel like I’m a good storyteller… but I really don’t want to make up a ‘story’.”
Almost a year ago, I was also in “Micro Narratives,” the same occasion where the Back and Forth (2016) artists developed their videos. Those were the lines I wrote after attending early session of the course in which we carried a digital camera using a mini-DV tape to shoot some footage of the soundstage of our school. Everyone around me was shaking and rewinding the tape in the recorder to correct or remove what they shot, while I just keep recording still-like segments without tracking back.
That sense of disconnection and confusion — shooting without playback — was never eased down throughout the journey of the course. As someone whose primary interest is animation, I am still not very used to carrying a camera. Scenes captured in the footage do not have little similarity with what I actually saw on the spot. But then the camera is not necessary to produce video. Lighting, colour, or even duration could be adjusted with a few clicks. People nowadays are always skeptical about daily dramas, yet seldom the strange editing of news reports. They always argue if something on screen is genuine or scripted, and yet seldom realize that the video is, in itself, a composition, or, in fact, a composite image.
Why do I shoot then? How has last year’s experience changed my practice? What makes me want to shoot, or feel that urge to take up a camera, regardless of its final quality?
Last year I had the luck to be with a group of schoolmates fused with divergent interests and personalities.Some write poems, some dance, some enjoy crafts, some go wild, and some stay quiet. Most of us did not have a solid grasp about moving images before the course, yet we just did it anyways. I was always dragging and screwing up the works, by the end somehow feeling as if I “survived” the course.
One of the most vivid memories I have in Micro Narratives is that I encountered Roy Andersson’s works. I was utterly fascinated. I remembered spending hours and days watching and rewatching them, and I cannot explain why. They are simply too charming and beautiful. One “door” always opens up more and more doors. Since then, I dug up works by artists whose works demonstrate varied kinds of obsession towards still-like moving images and long takes.
Unlike conventional narratives that build upon sharp visual or audio guiding blocks, micro narratives are intermingled with nuance. This process of observation and attention is beyond “understanding” what the message is: it draws paths and routes, it leaves traces. Whether I shoot, draw, or even write, I am leaving a cumulative record of thoughts.
Though I was not around with these artists this semester, it was my utmost pleasure to have a glimpse of their individual process of experimentation by looking at their works. I see how they loosen up and let go, to concentrate, to shout out loud and shoot. I was once bashed by a graduate student that “I am unprofessional.” May we never get boxed into set standards or worry about what is the “right” work to make. May we never settle down, but adventure with an open mind to embrace boundless thinking, including occasional stressful headaches. (Winnie Yan / Jan 2017)
Related event: Back & Forth: Hang There, Going Where