Curated by Hangjun Lee, program director of EXiS (Experimental Film & Video Festival in Seoul), Regional Experimentation — I: Photographic Survey — features 8 works by finalists of previous editions of the domestic (Korean) competition section in EXiS to illustrate the different facets of the country’s experimental and contemporary moving image practices. The selected works demonstrate a dynamic variety of techniques, including monotype in Oloc Boloc, optical printing in Footage, painting in Latent Sorrow, collage in Ganymede, chemical corrosion and high temperature treatment on paper in The Hardboiled Lovestory, electronic distortion in Latency Contemplation, and stop motion in 925 Pieces of Busan Tower and Moving Panorama, each manifesting its own eccentric visual language. Viewers can thus, through such a spectrum of image-making approaches, observe how artists deconstruct the ordinary into the foundation of the abstract, transforming familiar cultural contexts and symbols into unspeakable experiences and beyond.

30 August 2019 / 1998-2018 / 56 min / DCP
Double bill — followed by “Regional Experimentation 2: Free Radicals” / 1935-2015 / 90 min. / DCP

地域實驗首場放映節目《地域實驗 I -圖像勘測》以韓國為焦點,邀請了首爾國際實驗電影錄像節(서울국제실험영화페스티벌 EXiS )節目總監李幸俊策劃,從歷屆EXiS影節的韓國本土參賽作品中精彩選八部作品,闡述韓國當代的動畫實驗創作的不同面貌。當中放映作品涉及多種動畫製作手法,計有《Oloc Boloc》的拓印、《腳像》的光學印片、《潛在悲楚》的繪畫、《伽倪墨得斯》的影像重疊、《過熟的愛情故事》的紙張腐蝕與高溫處理、《延緩沉思 1》的電子干擾、《925片釜山塔》與《移動風景》的定格動畫,都各自創立出風格迴異的視覺語言。觀眾可透過種種成像技術,觀摩藝術家如何把尋常的事與物分解,透過精煉的技術給重塑成抽象空間,把大眾共同的文化語境與符號轉化成充滿個人情感以至無法言喻的感知經驗。

2019年8月30日:1998-2018 / 56 分鐘 / DCP
同場接住放映《地域實驗 II -游離基》/1935-2015 / 90 分鐘 / DCP / 香港藝術中心古天樂電影院

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An introduction to Korean experimental animation
Lee Hangjun, Program Director, EXiS

Since the return of those who experienced filmmaking at key experimental film institutions such as SAIC and CalArts in the United States, for the first time, since the mid-1990s, their works began to be introduced in various  independent film festivals in Seoul. Through their works, the Korean film community faced two important questions. First, ”why haven’t you been interested in the very medium of film or the structural characteristics of these films? Second, is there really no interest or practice at all in the material properties of celluloid and the apparatus of film, which determine the essential characteristics of the film image? However, educational efforts to find answers to these questions had not been institutionalized, even until this day. The 2000s saw many international-scale film festivals and biennales going  full swing. But the result is further industrialization of the cinematic art, which made fluid absorption of new elements of the medium even more difficult. Naturally, in this period of time, the term “experimental” in Korean society became a meaningless term, often associated with nothing but the fragmented, self-centered and the incoherent, when measured against institutional standards.

Despite the contradictory situation described above, “animation” opens a new passage for us to the historical specificities of the “experimental” in Korea: the two terms juxtapose productively to yield insight. A common feature of Korean experimental films, evident in many individual examples, is the attempt to compress the long-standing historical experience and practice of experimental films in the West, and reconstruct it in the Korean context.  Since his homecoming in the late 1990s, two of Lee Jang-wook’s two works i- Echoed Silence (1998) and Surface of Memory, Memory on Surface (1999) – best represent such general sentiment. As well these two works powerfully raise questions about Korean traditions and his contemporaries. Lee’s rtistic experiments uncompromisingly evoke the “fundamentals” of cinema —  that the cinematic image is a strip with a series of photographic images connected consecutively. His works, then, show how possibly an artist may direct intervene the cinematic apparatus, namely,  contact printers and optical printers, or, more precisely, what we call the Oxberry and J-K Printer. Until film disappeared, Oxberry or the Animation Stand is the very device that creates the most basic visual effects such as the fade in(out) and dissolves. Proactive engagement with film devices revealed iny Lee Jang-wook’s works became a starting point in the history of Korean experimental films; from thereon makers worked in diversity, paying attention to the structuration processes of film material among other pursuits of medium-specificity. Suk, Sungsuk’s 1998, released in 2002, for example, was produced by loading 16mm film onto a 35mm still camera, whereas Park Dong-hyun’s Circulation (1997) was composed of Möbius film loops made up of 365 frames.

Shon Kim studied animation under the guidance of Jules Engel (1909~2003), founder of the experimental animation program at the California Institute of the Arts. Shon and is the only filmmaker in Korea who keeps expanding the scope of experimental animation over the past 15 years. He recently produced a series, <BOOKANIMA>, which incorporates a variety of human movements – traditional Korean dance, modern dance, martial arts and so on, as a tribute to  Eeadweard Muybridge’s human figure experimentation.

Byun Jae-kyu’s work was deeply influenced by the tradition of Japanese experimental films, ranging from Matsumoto Toshio to Ito Takashi. Japanese experimental cinema has a standing tradition of questioning the status of individual images, especially the relationship of the frame and cinematic memories evoked by the gap between frames. Okuyama Jun’ichi’s <Human Flicker> (1975) consists of only two frames, so is his, <Origin of Motion Picture> (1978).  He also lectured on cinematic memory with Matsumoto’s <Engram> (1987) and other representative works, showing how Japan’s experimental films matured in deep relation to the aesthetics of animation. Byun Jae-kyu’s work basically comprises of photographic images. His debut film, <Moving Panorama>(2006), can be interpreted against historical traditions, such as in Michal Snow’s <La Région Centrale> (1971), Chris Gallagher’s <Seeing in the Rain> (1981),  <Atmosphere> (1976) and Chris Welsby’s <Wind Vane> (1972). His works have strong affinities as well with those works of Ito Takashi’s based on optical printing with photographic images, and with works about landscapes and cinematic apparatus. Byun has been reflecting on the relationship that these traditions have with contemporary ‘digital images’ through various installation forms, based on the rearrangement of photographic images in space. His digital images articulate his reflection on material labor, the very process of accumulating photographic images that arise between the author’s body and visual movements.

Roh Youngmee  detaches action from narration in  her films and pursues her own unique image texture through the process of printing her moving images or found footage back on paper, as in <Invisible sleeping woman, capsized boat and butterfly> (2016) and <the hardboiled love story> (2017). Whereas Moon Yujin is an artist who mainly works on media facades and has been mostly working on digital abstracts animation, Cho Seungho is Korea’s most important video artist since mid-90s — they both assert animated elements in their experimental practice. While this screening program will not include all the works of these important artists, it seeks to reveal a depth beyond the sheer provocation of stylistic diversity to locate the place ofexperimental animation in the short history of experimental cinema in Korea. Last but not least, a first-generation artist who introduced various short animation works in Korea in the 1990s before animation became industrialized revealed that I could not introduce them this time because his work is still under research and investigation. There shall be more to this story.

**Details for individual works and artists []

Kim, Minjung. Footage (2015)

當代南韓實驗動畫風貌
李幸俊 | 「首爾實驗電影錄像節|節目總監

1990 年代中期,許多韓國藝術家都會選擇前往美國重要的實驗電影學府研修,例如美國的芝加哥藝術學院,或加州藝術學院等。回流以後,他們的作品逐漸以各種方式出現在多個首爾的獨立電影節。在這些新作的面前,韓國的電影創作群體面臨兩個重要的問題:一,為何他們從沒對負片這個媒介或其結構上的特徵、可能性感興趣?二,電影的機械儀器及負片本身既是這創作媒體的基要物質元素,界定了活動影象的特質與別的媒體的不同,難道在本土就真的一點興趣或實踐也沒有?」然而,回應這些問題所作出的教育上的努力並未在建制中得到廣泛的納入,直到今天亦如是。在2000 年間,國際規模的電影節與雙年展數目不斷增長,電影藝術進一步的產業化,新的媒體類別未能歸納於藝術探索的範疇。自然,地「實驗」一詞於這個時期的韓國社會並無任何意義;它只不過被等同於零碎的、自圓其說、不成章法的,次於工業標準的表述。

儘管存在矛盾,「實驗」與「動畫」這兩組概念的並置對於理解韓國實驗電影的歷史特性卻不容忽視。許多韓國導演都嘗試以濃縮的方式,重塑西方長久以來的製作經驗以及其對電影製作的實踐,這亦是韓國實驗電影中一個重要的特點。Lee Jang-wook 於1990 年後期回流後的兩件作品-<Echoed Silence> (1998) 及 <Surface of Memory, Memory on Surface> (1999) 恰好描繪了這種經驗。同時,這兩部作品亦對韓國的傳統與當下作出重要的詰問。作品提出了一個根本性的事實:一系列的攝影圖像構成影象,藝術家透過電影設備,如接觸印刷、光學打印(更確切地為Oxberry 和 J-K印刷)等直接干擾影像。在負片消失之前,Oxberry 和動畫展台在韓國電影歷史中,只被視為製作簡單視覺特效(例如畫面轉換的淡入/淡出)的器械。Lee Jang-wook 在創作中積極運用不同影像裝置,透過實踐,揭開負片的可塑性及多樣性,例如從中發現的錄像結構與媒介獨特性,成為了韓國實驗電影的歷史起點。Suk, Sungsuk 的作品 <1998> (2002) 把16 米釐的菲林匯入35 米釐的相機當中,而Park Dong-hyun 的作品 <Circulation> (1997) 則以 365 幀構成的 Möbius 負片循環組成。

作為加州藝術學院實驗動畫系創辦人 Jules Engel (1909~2003) 的學生,Shon Kim 是韓國唯一一位於過去15 年中不斷擴大實驗動畫範圍的創作者。近作<BOOKANIMA> 的一系列作品涵括多種人體動作,如傳統的韓國舞蹈、現代舞蹈、武術等等,猶如向 Muybridge 的經典人體肢態實驗致敬。

Byun Jae-kyu 的作品深受日本實驗錄像影響,無論是松本俊夫或是伊藤高志。日本實驗電影的傳統常以「單張圖像」這個主體提出質疑:幀與幀之間的關係,以及對於間隙之間的電影記憶。奥山隼一的兩部作 <Human Flicker>(1975) 及 <Origin of Motion Picture>(1978) 均只由兩幀圖像組成。他曾以松本 <Engram>(1987) 以及其他代表的作品講解電影記憶,展現日本實驗電影與動畫美學的密切關係。

Byun Jae-kyu的作品主要以攝影圖像組成。他的首部作 品 <Moving Panorama> (2006) 以多部並置的方式對歷史傳統作出解讀,例如Michal Snow 的 <La Région Centrale> (1971)、Chris Gallagher 的 <Seeing in the Rain> (1981)與 <Atmosphere> (1976)、Chris Welsby 的<Wind Vane> (1972),以及伊藤高志的大部分作品。這些錄像都以光學印刷技術處理攝影圖像,並透過運用不同影像設備拍攝景觀進行實驗創作。Byun 製作各種裝置作品重塑影像空間,反思傳統影像器具如何影響成像的最終呈現。他的數碼影像作品展現他對於物質勞動的反思,當中遞增的數碼影像亦可反映他在創作過程中身體與視覺的活動。

Roh Youngmee 試圖把電影的動作和敘事拆開,兩部作品 <Invisible Sleeping Woman, Capsized Boat and Butterfly> (2016) 和 <The Hardboiled Love Story> (2017) 把自拍或拾得的現成菲林逐格的打印在紙張上,透過她獨特的手法逐幀處理然後再拍,形成眼前的獨到的影像質感。

Moon Yujin 專注於媒體藝術範疇,主要創作數碼抽象動畫;Cho Seungho 則是90 年代中期其中一位非常重要的錄像藝術家,兩人都向實驗電影注入了動畫的技術。當然,這個放映沒法涵蓋所有重要藝術家的作品,仍盼望能揭示韓國實驗短片短暫的歷史中風格上的多樣化以外,令觀眾意會到更深度的實驗和動畫論述。其實,我十分希望向香港觀眾介紹1990 年代動畫未被工業化之前的第一代藝術家,以及他們所帶來的各種短片動畫作品,可是其中一位主要的創作成員仍處於研究和調查階段,還得留待日後。

***個別作品及藝術家詳情 []