「據點。句點」成員劉清華與動畫藝術家老師的近距互動,是一生的創作態度的啟發。FPC member Jess Lau’s close encounter with animation professor Tamas Waliczky induces life-long commitment to the question of what it means to be an artist.

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現實中的虛幻:Tamas Waliczky 帶我從古埃及到他的威尼斯雙年展
劉清華 | 英譯:曾凱渝
**首發於國際藝評人協會香港分會藝評庫 2020年10月5日 […]

一幅古埃及壁畫投影於課室螢幕,我們和教授一起看,發現畫中人物的眼睛和上半身都以正面描繪,腹部以下至雙腳卻是側面,整個畫面以多重視角結合。然後教授問:「這幅畫在描繪現實嗎?你記憶中的眼睛或手和腳長怎麼樣?」到底何謂現實?記憶中的現實、經驗累積的現實、把眼睛打開後那所謂眼前的現實?旁邊的同學比我高一截,誰看到的又會更貼近現實?人們會否把自己想像中的美好當作現實?當現實本身搖擺不定,人該如何觀看世界?我當時二十歲,事隔至今接近十年;依然清楚記得那天,還有腦袋一瞬間被打開的感覺。

2011 至 2014年期間我在香港城市大學創意媒體學系修讀數碼影像,「Animation 1」為第一學年的必修科。當時我坐在冷得像雪藏庫的 CMC(創意媒體中心)七樓電腦房,沒有一扇窗、數十部黑色電腦幾行排開、每台配有超薄液晶屏幕。相比中學的小班房、木枱和椅子,身處其中不禁有種「果然係唸媒體藝術」的感覺。坐在課室第一排,Tamas Waliczky  教授站在我前方,鴨咀帽子、格仔襯衣,正當我們期待他會教導什麼高科技動畫原理,他竟然在螢幕放上一幅古埃及壁畫。

Tamas Waliczky 生於匈牙利布達佩斯,九歲開始創作動畫,1983 年始鑽研以電腦創作,1989 年已獲奧地利國際電子藝術節金獎。十年前,他加入我的母校創意媒體學院,2019 年更代表匈牙利參展威尼斯雙年展。今年教授決定退下教職,重回歐洲發展。從我的學生時代至今,Tamas 一直支持和鼓勵我繼續做藝術,但這些年關於他的中文報導不多,我問准許可,敲下這篇文章作為多年來的答謝,和師生回憶的筆記。

對 Tamas 的課堂印象依然深刻,如他指導抽象動畫,會先從抽象畫的歷史講起。與其使用主流動畫界的軟件工具,他選擇教導我們用一個完全免費及開源(Open source)的 3D 繪圖軟件 Blender。那時候好些同學都很生氣,覺得「出嚟做嘢都冇人用,學嚟做咩?」教授卻認為,開源軟件和共享資訊庫其實相當適合個人工作者或藝術家。當世上那麼多人不計成本,將自己的研究及創作成果放到網上分享,為的不過是令大家可以更自由自在地創作。

「如果有兩條路:左邊的是大家都在而相當熱鬧,但你根本不享受;你也只能走右邊那條,儘管只有你一人。」這段話我從 Tamas 那邊聽過不止一次。回到 1983 年,在電腦流行普及以前,他為了鑽研用電腦做動畫,辭掉了手繪動畫工作室的高薪厚職,當時的同伴都笑他是瘋子。這個瘋子就一直做他相信的作品直到現在,甚至在去年代表國家匈牙利出展「意大利威尼斯雙年展」,也是歷年來雙年展為數不多的媒體藝術家。

媒體藝術或3D實驗動畫總帶有艱澀和冷冰的刻板印象。Tamas 的作品即便具有相當實驗性與技術性,卻依然能展現人的溫度,為觀者創造出各個截然不同的新世界。1994年的作品〈The Way〉,是個顛倒了常用的單點透視系統的動畫作品:畫面中心幾個人在跑步,離觀者愈近的屋子和樹會變得愈小,反之離觀者愈遠則會愈大。1997年作品〈The Landscape〉,詩意地把動畫中的時間凍結,唯一有生命力的是動畫中的攝錄機,它的移動讓觀者發現該世界的時間是靜止的。2007年的〈Marionettes〉,他在三維世界裡創造了一系列扯線木偶,然後他去掉自己動畫師的身分,沒有將它們 animate(使其動化),因而觀眾所見那木偶不斷倒下的「動畫」,其實來自動畫世界中的自然力量*2(質量、重力、碰撞與隨機)。

 

“THE WAY”, 1994, Images copyright © 1994 Tamás Waliczky

“MARIONETTES”, 2006, Images copyright © 2006, Tamás Waliczky

我的畢業作品《消失之中》打從概念開始,就花了相當長時間與 Tamas(還有余家豪老師和黎肖嫻教授的指導)討論和思考 — 如何用動畫做藝術、動畫能否記實、還有其作為媒體的特質等等,至今仍在影響我的創作。而《消失之中》最終演變成一個關於物質如何在影像中轉換、思考動畫師的角色是什麼、並將勞動過程打開的小小影像實驗。學期尾, 同學們都要展示自己的作品概念,很快發現我的動畫將會是當年唯一一個去掉故事和角色設定的作品。記得當天有導師質疑我做的並非動畫:他看不到動畫的12項基本法則(註1)。又有同學說:「咁都得?係咪唔識 Animate 咋。」下課後我在走廊遇到 Tamas,他安慰我過後突然說:”You can only grow stronger, if you really want to make art.” 後來我花了半年時間,用力將作品完成,也在往後幾年陸續得到展出機會,讓本來沒打算成為藝術家的我,仍能繼續創作。在此特別感謝Tamas 當年給予的提醒。

2019 年的威尼斯藝術雙年展,他展出以「幻想攝影機」為題的作品,透過三維電腦圖像與動畫創造了一系列不符合「標準」的「虛構相機」。人如何觀察世界直接影響了攝影機的構造,而機械發展亦對人的想像構成重大改變。Tamas 創造了曝光時間與方式、光圈、快門及鏡頭結構都重新設計的「虛構相機」,更有趣和令人佩服的是這些相機都不是憑空想像,而是有根有據、皆能被實際生產出來。作品反覆打開觀者的視覺感知,展示捕捉,描繪現實與影像成像(image-making) 的各種可能。我突然想起當年「Animation 1」的第一課,或在更早的時間點開始,Tamas 就一直在追問何謂現實,以及人到底可以如何觀看世界。他沒有停止思考,即使在這條算不上熱鬧的藝術路上,還是踏踏實實地繼續創作。

後記:因為要寫這篇文章,我聯絡了同為 Tamas 學生,剛於愛莎尼亞念畢動畫碩士的校友 Aggie。這通跨越了半個地球的電話,長達一個多小時。原本公務式地拜托對方分享一些關於教授的故事,好讓文章更立體,最後我倆竟然都說到要擦眼淚。Tamas 曾經對她說過一個維尼熊的故事。在森林前,維尼跟豬仔說:「一起去探險吧!」豬仔非常擔心:「如果下雨怎麼辦?」維尼說:「如果不下雨呢?」

 

註1: 動畫的12項基本法則(The Twelve Basic Principles of Animation)源自於《The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation》一書。

“LANDSCAPE”, 1997, Images copyright © 1997 Tamás Waliczky

 

Life as ignis fatuus: The voyage with Tamas Waliczky from Ancient Egypt to Venice Biennale | by LAU Ching-wa Jesa | translated into English by Tsang Hoi-yu

**first published: 5 October 2020 AICAHK […]; reposted with permission

Discussions sparkled upon an ancient Egyptian fresco projected on the screen. The characters in it were drawn with the front-view upper body and side-view lower body, creating a multi-view picture. “Is the painting depicting reality? What are the forms of eyes, arms or legs in your memory?” Professor Tamas Waliczky (Tamas) asked. Questions then raced through my mind: What is reality? Is it in memory/ in the accumulated experiences/ in what we see with our eyes open? Who is closer to reality – the taller classmate by my side or me? Would fantasies be confused with reality? How shall we catch sight of reality in the ever-changing world? 10 years gone by, I still remember this 20-year-old novice sitting in front of the fresco with her mouth opened, as if it were just yesterday.

‘Animation 1’ was the first-year compulsory course during my studies in Digital Imaging at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong (2011-2014). The moment I first stepped into the freezing classroom of Creative Media Centre (CMC), all that surrounded me was walls, rolls of computers and LED screens, yet not a window; sitting at the first roll shivering, I couldn’t help but wonder at the modernity of media art studies. Lesson began. Prepared ourselves to engulf high-tech animation principles, Tamas had given us a punch: he walked in with his duckbill cap and checkered shirt, switched on the computer, and projected an ancient Egyptian fresco.

Born in Budapest, Tamas Waliczky began his odyssey in animation at the age of  nine. Just six years after his initial attempt working with computers in 1983, he won the First Prize (Golden Nica) in Computer Graphic Category of Prix Ars Electronica, Linz. For ten years since 2010, Tamas had been teaching in the School of Creative Media, and last year, he represented Hungary at the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, 2019. Returning from Italy, he did not stay long in Hong Kong this time, ready to embark on the next chapter of creation in Europe. On the path of learning and creation, Tamas has always been a warm support  guiding and encouraging me; before waving goodbye to my beloved teacher, I hope to make this passage a farewell gift – genuinely composed, rendered with flashing frames of our teacher-student reminiscences.

Rising up the first frame: Tamas’s lectures left a deep impression on me. He would start off an abstract-animation lesson with the history of abstract painting, and he chose to teach us on a free and open source 3D creation suite named Blender, which ignited the discontent of a few students who considered the software impractical for future employment. Tamas, on the other hand, believed that open source software and shared databases are indeed a fertile field for artists and freelancers; regardless of cost, countless people are cultivating the soil of creativity, innovation and freedom by sharing the fruits of their research and creation online.

“When two roads diverge, on the left there are lots of people but you do not enjoy it, you could only take the other even if you are on your own.”, the second frame came up with the words of Tamas, for more than once I have heard it from him. Travelling back in time to 1983 when computers hadn’t eaten the world, Tamas quitted the highly paid job in the hand-drawn animation studio, in exchange for his day-and-night investigation in the universe of computer animation. His friends called him crazy, but this crazy man continued his animation adventure till now, and became one of the few media artists who represented his country exhibiting in the Venice Biennale.

“THE WAY”, 1994, Images copyright © 1994 Tamás Waliczky

“MARIONETTES”, 2006, Images copyright © 2006, Tamás Waliczky

Despite the obscure and distant stereotype of media art and 3D experimental animation, Tamas could always deliver the warmth of nature and mankind through his experimental works, meanwhile, create a novel world for the audiences. In his work The Way (1994), Tamas has inverted the central perspective system commonly used in animation, as a result, the closer the object from the view, the smaller it appears; while the further an object is, the larger. With three runners in the animation, the audience would find the farthest runner the biggest. In The Landscape (1997), by poetically freezing the time, audiences could grab a glimpse of some miraculous moments in a small German village, with the camera being the only living element which moves through the place. In Marionettes (2007), Tamas has eliminated his role as animator from the animation, in replacement, the marionettes with no string collapsed by natural forces – mass, gravity, collision and randomization – which are calculated by physical simulation algorithms. Nobody animates the body but natural forces.

During the process of making my graduation work The Fading Piece, Tamas (also my teacher Mr. Ka Ho Albert Yu and Prof. Lai Chiu-han Linda) and I had continuously discussed back and forth: what is animation in art / what if an animation is documentary / what makes this medium peculiar? These conversations still profoundly affect my works and thinking. After all, The Fading Piece turned out as an experiment on the transformation of substances in moving images, the position of an animator as well as the revelation of time. At the end of the semester, when all of the graduating students were presenting their work concepts, I realized that my work was the only animation with no storyline and character. Without encompassing the 12 basic principles of animation (*1), a professor questioned if my work could still be called as an animation, followed with some students doubting if I could actually animate. After the lecture, I came across Tamas in the corridor, “You can only grow stronger, if you really want to make art”, what he said hit me in the heart. It eventually took me six months to finish the work, and I am grateful for different exhibiting opportunities after graduation. I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Tamas, whose advice has supported me along my journey to be an artist which I have never thought of being.

At the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale (2019), Tamas exhibited his work Imaginary Cameras, which comprises a series of images of unique, exceptional and fictional cameras created through 3D computer graphics and animation. The development of cameras is entwined with people’s perception of the world, in the meantime, machine evolutions often transform people’s imagination. Although fictional, what makes the redesigning of the aperture and shutter, duration and ways of exposure, and the structure of the lens most remarkable is that they could in fact be actualized and produced. <Imaginary Cameras> is thought-provoking, it repeatedly opens the audience’s visual senses, and concurrently shows the diverse possibilities in image-making and reality-mapping. From time to time, Tamas keeps asking ‘what is reality’ and ‘what are the different ways of seeing the world’, just as the questions he raised in the lecture of ‘Animation 1’, when I first met him. On the road mostly alone, being strong and never stopped thinking, he creates.

 

p.s.: Recently, I contacted Aggie, a former student of Tamas who has just graduated with a Master of Animation degree in Estonia, hoping to hear more stories about our teacher. Surprisingly, we talked for more than an hour and ended the call in tears. Sniffing with a running nose, Aggie told a story Tamas shared with her:
In the woods, Winnie-the-Pooh invites Piglet, “Let’s go on an adventure!”
“What if it rains?” Piglet worried.
“What if not?”

 

Footnotes:
* Ignis Fatuus: a deceptive goal or hope; a light sometimes appearing in the night over marshy ground, often attributed to the combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter.
^ The Twelve Basic Principles of Animation originated in The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation.