In part 4 of Linda Lai’s Prolog reproduced for Floating Teatime, she accounted for how Manifestos 2 evolved from Manifestos 1 — a major shift from a Deleuzian contemplation of time and space to radical empiricism. 《我們的錄像書寫2》「序言」轉載的第4節:黎肖嫻指出從「宣言一」到「宣言二」的衍化和突破:跳出德勒茲式對活動影像中對時間的純厚描述而重點轉移到革新的經驗論。

*feature image: from the Aurora Trip Sitter’s KNEE PLAY 2

** Read previous parts of this 5-part essay 閱讀前文: [1] [2] [3]

 

Manifesto 1 (2016-18) to Manifesto 2 (2018-2021)

There is no preconceived continuity between M1 and M2. Only a change of strategy extends M1’s intensive learning-workshop model with a small group of 8 to an open call of mature artists of varied origins to come together for a chance encounter in M2. A bold transformation occurred as the former M1 focus on crafting the interiority of individual video pieces shifts to  entrusting independent manifesto-writing into the hands of the forty-something participants who are all capable of establishing a position from outside video-making. A shift from making to “writing” (“-graphy” in “videography”) is necessarily performative as much as existential and trans-disciplinary. Videography is an integral part of our being, a unique thread connecting the individual to other levels of existence. Videography draws from the world and other people’s experience – the question of our basic accountability and obligation to the world and the people who fuel and incite our artistic creative practice is an ethical commitment

Poetics and aesthetics steer gradually in the direction of dialectics.

Imagine each of the videographic works we encounter in this series to be a potential social monad, full of clues and linkages to society and history, unrepeatable, distinct and resisting being turned into the representation and typification of the milieu they find themselves.

New Heights

While avoiding generalization, I would like to use two conceptual markers to qualify M2 for myself.

1/ From “narrative as the descriptive” to “pure/thick description”

Narrativity in videography refers to how we mobilize and organize sight and sound to describe our world within a certain length (duration) – I assume no dispute here. I also feel most of us in this project are also in the anti-adjective mode, that is, rejecting that our work could be generalized into an idea, or that our sentiments could be reduced to a handy word or two. As Deleuze would agree, the power of the unfolding process of an image lies in its descriptive power. On the one hand, with an image that turns countable, measurable time into duration and sustenance of the single moment, time is transformed into inhabitable space. The image itself thickens as recurrent (sight-and-sound) descriptions, whereby circuitous levels of consciousness perform. On the other hand, time, turned into inhabitable space of temporal experience, activates viewers who are presented with the possibilities of thick description. It is the immersive power of an image Deleuze has understood: we dwell within an image.

2/ Radical empiricism

I like to think of the video works in this project as the manifestation of what William James calls “radical empiricism,” which postulates that “the only things that shall be debatable among philosophers shall be things definable in terms drawn from experience.” Following from this, experience is not just a matter of “direct particular experience,” but also the relations between particular experiences – expressed by conjunctions or disjunctions. (James) This is an important break from David Hume’s empiricism: James’ theory of knowledge dismisses a notion of being as “I” that transcends experience and, instead, gives unity to the world. “The parts of experience hold together from next to next by relations that are themselves parts of experience.” This also allows technology, the use of theory, the making of concepts, artistic creation, politics, daily interaction with people and so on to sit on the same plane, all of which are a part of our experience – through different conjunctions in different specific instances — always already there as “a continuous structure.” (Britannica: Radical empiricism) This is a way to articulate technology being an extension of our being, integral to our experience. To James, there is no single worldview that is above others – if there is, it would not be possible for us to discuss questions of values and motives. To him, only that which points to our individual experience has room for negotiation. (Cooper) This is how art can be discussed and be regarded as a significant ground not to be collapsed into other domains.

Rosi Braidotti’s “nomadic subject” supplements the exploration of personal experience and intra-subjectivity, based on which she advances the discussion of “in-depth transformation of subjectivity,” which I find affinitive with James’ radical empiricism. In the context of art, she contends that artistic creativity is motivated by conceptual creativity, and that today we need more of the latter as well as conceptual courage – in order to overcome nostalgia, inertia, aporia and other forms of critical stasis. (Braidotti, 1) Braidotti defends the particularity of art as a nomadic practice: whereas artistic creativity is motivated by conceptual creativity, the former also refreshes the latter. She is highly conscious of the “philosopher” and the “writer” in her, each with a different push and both constantly negotiating. The philosopher in her persists in asking how to experience technology as the extension of our being, and what kind of new alliance would technology, art and philosophy form. The “writer” in her continues to feel amazed by the complexity and novelty of the world and responds in writing.

The postulates I have assembled so far make up my new materialist position. 

It would certainly sound pompous to plainly state that artists have the ability to assert direct change to society. But I believe none of us would be ashamed to assert our right to speak and the legitimacy to have our voice heard in its varied tonalities. The world in which we live has always been shaped by forces beyond us, nor are tools of (art-)making subject to our free deployment as we assume. But we must make our own experience, radically, in a world of shared structure – as long as we start to take note.

A view of Wong Pak-hang’s Habitation

 

從錄像宣言(一)(2016-18)到錄像宣言(二)(2018-2021)

「宣言(一)」專注於時間空間的美學化,以此為沈思默想活動影像的性格的軸心。「宣言(二)」到來,我們躍跳到跨界的的起點、從活動影像的「外面」向內看的位置。我們提問的是為何我們要創作,為何錄像書寫是個人實存的不可或缺 (integral) 的一部分,以至我們的書寫與世界何干。既然個人的創作和書寫支取自世界和別人的經驗,那我們對他她它們要付上甚麼起碼的責任?

「宣言(二)」的重心「記述的衝動」確實是個跨界、外在的起點。作品為本的創作問題,追求的不是創作的大理論,而是每一個作品其實都是一樁獨立的創作事件,當下的情境環境氛圍當下對策,以至衍生出不一樣的理念和實作的議題,在作品裡「糾纏」、釐清。如是,作品便不再只是結果,也可以、同時是過程,甚至是一些可行性的匯集,對生和生活提出的假設性的敲問。若借用阿多諾的說法,每一個上佳的藝術作品都是一個社會的「單子」(social monad),內涵獨特卻都是社會歷史的線索,不可重複,不能被普遍化為代表 (represent) 或標誌 (typify) 一整個時代的作品。

「記述的衝動」是個存在和如何存活下去的問題。宣言(一)只有8個參與者,是個研習的團隊。到宣言(二),45個宣言者都是願意整合自己的創作的人,其中34位是透過公開徵集而來的;有些我稍為認識的,也有更多是素未謀面的。這正是我們不是在閉門造車孤芳自賞自說自話的有力證明,而是一個有潛力的群體,在各自的位置可以繼續分享,到時機來到便結連起來。2020年一連串網上討論會之後,不少作者都重寫了他-她們的宣言,也有向集子提議新的作品。

一起攀登:現象的新高度

幾次的聚合,似乎有幾個可以歸納起來的我們創作上的共通點,該是眾創作人可以認同的吧(當然,我們都在變):

一。從表徵到聲、影作為純厚的描述

錄像的敘事組織著我們如何用聲音和影像去形容世界,這是基本功夫,但看來更多的參與作者相信活動影像是「反形容詞的」(– 或證明用概括性的形容詞去歸納一個作品就像殺掉了一個作品),活動的流程,聲影的敘述,珍貴的地方在於它本身就是個描述的過程,從陳述的動機轉換到描述,再潛進破解、超越時空、或時與空互為一體的純描述。活動影像抗拒「快樂」「憂愁」「驚弓」「躊躇」等概括性的形容詞。活動影像向我們討的是:呈現給我看。這本身就帶著挑戰「再現」的態度。影像的豐厚,在於它的耐看,有留住持續的描述的潛能。如果錄像書寫就是思路,那活動影像的述說效力就像一層一層的剖開,聲影的敘事體、述說的設計,是為了觀者可以與我們盡量同步。這樣,創作人的深厚描述才能轉化成為觀者(參與者)的不住的進入我們作品的深厚的描述活動。

二.「革新的經驗論」

如是,我可以大膽的把這個集子裡的作業和作品稱之為「革新的經驗論」(Radical empiricism) 的各種嘗試與實驗。William James提出這觀念,是哲學上重現打開了對「經驗」的論說,超越實證的經驗主義的局限,強調「經驗」不單是個別個體的特殊體驗,而必須包括不同個體的經驗之間的關係。因此,沒有任何一個世界觀是可以高於一切的 — 若有,那麼我們的價值和動機的問題就無從討論下去。對他來說,唯有那些指向我們個別經驗的才有討論的餘地。(Cooper) 這就是藝術可以被談論而且該被重視的假定的立足點。

這樣的以個人經驗和互為主體的經驗為參照,找出我們之間的關係的視野,在女性主義理學者羅西·布拉伊多蒂 (Rosi Braidotti) 以「遊牧的主體」(nomadic subject) 去治理有關主體的深度轉化的討論中,又向藝術提供了另一步。對她來說,我們的今天需要更多的「理念上的創造性」 (conceptual creativity) 和「理論上的勇氣」,而不是懷舊、無休的提問、墮入慣性、凡事上綱上線。(Braidotti, 11) 這裡,我看見藝術的特殊性:藝術的創造性是由概念的創造性所啟發的,藝術的創造性又翻新了理念的創造。布拉伊多蒂異常的自覺著她體內的「哲學家」和「作家」的不斷交涉。前者不住的問:如何去經驗科技作為我們存在的延伸?科技、藝術和哲學會是個怎樣的新聯盟?後者則不住喜悅地驚訝著世界的繁衍合雜,何其花姿招展,滿是新趣。

上述的兩點無疑是新唯物論出發的。

或許想像藝術創作者能直接改變社會是過於傲慢吧,但我們都不會愧於承認爭取發言權、爭取自己的(永遠在變動中的)聲音語調的「合法性」和有被聽見的權利 — 尤其當這些我們以為自然擁有的東西其實在資本和權力主導的社會經濟規劃模塑裡,早已牢牢的被握在擁有資本的、或少數的持分者以至非持分者手裡。然而創作就先對自己和器具有所要求,這絕對是我們的要求。

from Ryan Chan’s The Flashing

Citation:

Braidotti, Rosi. “Writing as a Nomadic Subject,” Comparative Critical Studies 11.2–3 (2014): 

Cixous, Hélène. Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Columbia University, 1990.

Cooper, Wesley. “James’s Radical Empiricism: Sensation and Pure Experience,” The Oxford Handbook of William James; ed. Alexander Klein. On-line version, 2020. Read 5 April 2021: https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199395699.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199395699-e-9 

James, William. The Meaning of Truth. New York: Cosimo Classics, 1909/2008.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Theodor W. Adorno: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/adorno/#5