In the 5th and final part of Linda Lai’s Prolog for Our Manifestos II reproduced in Floating Teatime, she asserts art’s power to generate knowledge, citing several theorists in Critical Theory, reiterating the place of experience. 《我們的錄像宣言2》的「引言」來到轉載「據點一杯茶」的最後一節:黎肖嫻引述不同「批評理論」的觀點,總結錄像書寫不單帶有生產知識的能量,更打開對「經驗」的重塑。

 

* feature image: Knee Play 1, Aurora Trip Sitter

** Read previous parts of this 5-part essay 閱讀前文: [1] [2] [3] [4]

 

Concluding… from the watchtower, nurturing the energy to create knowledge

Manifesto writer YUNG Tsz-hong (07-37) describes his videography begins with observing what is exterior in order to reach what lies in the structure internally. He seeks to abolish binary pairs such as content-versus-form. Yet as new imaging tools emerge, he feels “form” increasingly liberates “content” and becomes content itself. Perhaps there are more ways to overcome the binary opposites that worry him.

Sam Chan’s Time Regained: glitches and noise are the basic raw material

Here, I recommend taking a different path. Following a materialist thesis to cinema (Malcolm LeGrice), an image is always at once imagery (the world it refers to imbued with personal sentiment) and material object (size and dimension, grammars and rules adopted, material property etc. and their generative potentials). If so, there is no way we ignore digital materiality. Just as the qualitative differences that color pigment manufacturing, painted surfaces may make to the experimental possibilities of painting, or what optical printing has opened up for celluloid film, or how the interference of electronic signal transmission and properties of the magnetic tape gave birth to early video art, by which glitches and noise have become raw material, it is almost a perplexing over-sight that we refuse to cross the threshold to think of how digitality has given birth to a totally new set of “basic” raw material to work with. In Sam Chan’s manifesto, he made a useful list of such new raw material that yet deserves expansion. (07-06)

The split of form and content is underlined by a notion of art that places interpretation above everything else. Adorno speaks of “work-internal tensions” related to socio historical conflict, which is rooted in his “Negative Dialectics” (ND) And here lies a powerful ground to caution against interpretation: Adorno’s negative dialectics rejects the separation of hermeneutics and positive empiricism. “A hermeneutical approach would emphasize the artwork’s inherent meaning or its cultural significance and downplay the artwork’s political or economic functions. An empirical approach would investigate causal connections between the artwork and various social factors without asking hermeneutical questions about its meaning or significance.” (Stanford) Adorno argues that they should be understood against each other. “On the one hand, an artwork’s import and its functions in society can be diametrically opposed. On the other hand, one cannot give a proper account of an artwork’s social functions if one does not raise import-related questions about their significance. 

a moment in Dream: Four Units of Imagination by REICHRICHTER

Negative dialectics, in the long run, implies that there is no one single work that sufficiently stands evident of its milieu, and no singular work’s intentions and internal tension can be fully explained by the social cultural background that prompts its creation. Our milieu is bigger than our works, and yet our individual work transcends (the confines of) a milieu. Each piece of videography in this collection is itself a phenomenon, or the composite conglomerate of multiple phenomena. Each is at once an independent incident and a historical document.

Adorno, Badiou, James, Rancière, Butler and Braidotti are borrowed onto our conceptual map here as they facilitate a summative statement that affirms art’s role and power to generate knowledge of a unique kind. It starts with refreshing empiricism in order that experience can be interrogated in place of the transcendental subject to discuss what actions to take, and without having to fantasize our fragmented world to be totality. It is through experiences, one to the next, that fragments could be articulated as a continued structure, not totality.

Adorno’s “negative dialectics” rids the positive-negative-synthesis circle of being trapped in synthesis. It removes the overtone of progress in systems thinking. Negativity keeps the dialectical circle open, against transcendence, and confronts us with the limits of knowledge and the limitless constructed-ness of our subjectivity. Adorno’s way out is to continue to operate in the process of knowledge production. In this sense, synthesis is not to be removed: it is a momentary point to arrive in, and is significant as it is the starting point of the next round of negation. Adorno’s demand for art’s truth content should be understood this way.

In Badiou’s words, art itself is a truth procedure. “Art is a thought in which artworks are the Real (and not the effect). And this thought, or rather the truths that it activates, are irreducible to other truth—be they scientific, political, or amorous. This also means that art, as a singular regime of thought, is irreducible to philosophy.” (Badiou 1998/2005: 9) I cannot help thinking of each artwork to be a kind of dreamwork, not the equivalent of the formal dream narrative method. The truth of and the real in art can only happen concretely within art. Just as the fragments that make up our dreamwork at night draw from reality but function and come together in its unique own measure, its own logic — that of fracturation, irrationality and nonsense. Art, too, has its own truth procedures, which the contributors in this project demonstrate.

Compared to M1 [Manifestos 1, 2016-18], the phenomenological landing in M2 has expanded. Beyond Deleuze and Stiegler, both cited many times by M1 writers, more attention is now given to the radical empirical orientation of the individual videographers, as well as to each video as an individual event demanding its own methodology. Each work’s particularity pertains to a unique configuration of relations to the world out there. I suggest that our manifesto writings have engaged in the dialectical whereby the negation is highlighted as a recurrent value. 

WU Jiaru places experience ahead of sense-making. In one of our on-line sessions, she put it straight, “I will always be shooting/recording, no matter what. … I feel art is so important: art means survival, or else one goes collapsed. But I also make art and shoot in order to keep a safe distance.”  (07-34)

Wong Hei-wa, also Graphic Designer for this project, concludes, “Previously I thought it is essential to be apt and crafty with one’s tools, but now it seems it is essential that we trust our medium.”

What Cecilia Hua said is still turning in my mind… “The most fitting metaphor for my fascination with image forms is the awe humans felt when they discovered the upside-down pinhole image formed by ‘light’ and an ‘external world’. It must have been such a moment of pure tenderness, without any invasion or desire to colonize with the machines invented (which I have fallen deeply remorseful for). It is the distance between the inside and the outside that invites us to observe the change of both. It also manifests the relation between wang liang (shadow of the shadow) and jing (shadow) … from Zhuang Zi.”

We speak, we act out, we live, and ask to be heard; the immediate result is a humble entry onto the tracks of history – thanks to our impulse to document and make records.

Fragments from the here and now, something for those in the future to recover — the traces of our experiences and the stun of realizing the possibility of being forgotten. 2019-2021!

Great relief. After all, we have worked diligently on our own in our parts of the world and yet we connect. As simple as that.

Sincerity and honesty. Yung Tsz-hong and Winsome Wong put in their blessings.

Please keep going.

(6 April 2021)

 

still shot from the work of YUNG Tsz-hong

 

登上瞭望塔再看一次:孕育創造知識的能量

翁子康 (07-37) 理解他的錄像創作啟於觀察事物的外在形態以至可接觸事物的內在結構;他也要求要破解「內容」與「形式」的二元對立。而隨著拍攝工具的進化,形式解放了內容,成為內容。也許,我們可以更進一步的重整這個有關「內容」與「形式」二元或去二元的論據。

英國實驗電影創作和理論研究者馬爾科姆·麥格里斯 (Malcolm LeGrice) 的唯物電影論指出任何的影像/圖像 (image) 都既是意象 (imagery) 也是物質的對象 (material object)。這樣的話,數碼的物理性 (digital materiality) 就不可能被置於探討範圍外。如我們所知,顏料的生產、可繪畫的「面」等等曾引來了各種繪畫的實驗,又或光學印刷打開了菲林(膠片)創作的可能性,又如電子訊號本身的傳遞性和磁帶的特性成全了錄像藝術的出現,為何我們就偏選擇去忽視數碼(數字)運算如何引進了嶄新的創作素材,以至全新的聲影「語彙」和文法?陳顯宗的兩個作品和宣言,為這個甚難推動的方向留下了清楚的召喚。(07-06)

一個錄像書寫,又不是大眾傳播圈的一部份,可有甚麼文化社會意義?阿多諾強調作品內部的張力 (work-internal tensions) 如何牽引著社會歷史的矛盾。他的「負辯證法」(或消極的辯證法),正超越了「解釋學」和「驗證法」的局限:前者強調作品的內在含義和文化貢獻而輕視了其政治與經濟功能;後者重點在於延引個別作品與不同社會因素的因果關係而忽略了作品有其內部意義。(Stanford Encyclopedia) 他反對這樣的分割,如此,沒有一個作品能夠充分的成為時代的佐證,沒有一個作品的內在意圖和內部張力可以完全被創作的社會文化背景所說明。時代大過作品,作品又大過或超越時代。也可以說,作品作為一個獨立而個別的現象,具有潛在的社會功能或對特定時空的關切性,就是上述的「社會單子」;只是,對阿多諾來說,只有少數作品達到這個威力,也就是優秀作品與否的分別。當然,上段討論革新的經驗論的時候,我們已暗示了要把高低這個判斷的問題擱置。

An episode of Blue Button’s Fictional Diary

阿多諾以至當代的巴迪歐都肯定藝術的生產知識的能量。

阿多諾談到藝術的真理內容」 (truth content)。「負辯證法」最終拜脫了正反合的欣快前向的進步的系統思考,正反合不是一個理想化的循環。「反」並沒有超越性;「正反合」本身就反,「反」才是終極,知識有其極限。正視我們的主體性不住的被建構的境況,他的出路是不斷在知識的生產過程中操作。正反合的「合」是短暫而重要的。

巴迪歐說藝術本身就是一種「真理過程」(truth procedure)。藝術是一種思維,在這個領域裡,作品(而不是作品的效果)才是真實的。藝術的思維,或其引發啟動的真理,是不能被簡約為科學、政治、愛或別的真理的。也就是說藝術自身是一個獨立的真理體制,也不能被約化為哲學。(Badiou 1998/2005, 9) 如此,藝術工作就如同夢工作 (dreamwork),藝術的真理/真相只能在藝術裡發生,正如「做夢」,其內在的真理,與白天的生活經驗的操作不同。「夢敘事」(dream narrative) 有其自己的視聽組織和敘述邏輯,那藝術本身也有其真理程序。

確實的,「錄像宣言2」的三年過程,我是傾向於剖開「現象學」的種種對藝術創作(人)帶來的滋潤和養份的。太多的有關藝術的理論著作都是為哲學家和評論者而寫的。作為一個創作人和從事藝術教育的人,我偏向於有創作經驗的理論者,這是為何巴迪歐、麥格里斯布拉伊多蒂對我有更深的啟發。這也解釋了我的個人理論勇氣和理念的開發的執著,從「錄像宣言1」的德勒茲 (Gilles Deleuze) 重點轉移到「錄像宣言2」的遊牧思維,在「錄像宣言1」的斯蒂格勒 (Bernard Stiegler) 的宏大跨時空的批判系統的底部,我在「錄像宣言2」重新鑽進作品的內部和創作者每一樁獨立創作事件的網絡去,重新釐定經驗的具體實在性以及其不可被普遍化。「宣言」,也在正反合的循環不息的「反」遊戲裡成了點睛的動作。

身兼這個計劃出版部份的平面設計創作人的黃曦嬅在網上研討說:「從前我想才藝和工具技巧方面的純熟是至要的,現在看來,相信手中的媒體同樣至要。」

記得吳佳儒在網上研討的總結時直截了當的說:「就是一定要拍,甚麼都排!」這是我聽過的最爽的肯定。「藝術太重要了:藝術意味著生存,不容我就就會崩潰。拍,也是為了保持安全距離。」

滑惜子說:「我對於『影像』的著迷最恰當的比喻,類似人類最初發現小孔成像時,對於『光』和『外面的世界』投下映出的倒影發出的感嘆。那大概是最純粹的溫柔,並沒有後來發明的攝影機器用來拍攝他者的侵略性與佔有慾(,而我也因深陷這機器的暴力中而反覆懺悔)。正是這樣一段觀看的距離、內與外的位置,才能更了解環境與系統內外的變化。這也是莊子罔兩問景的關係。 

實作-整合-結連-發聲-整合-發表-被討論。這是唯一(讓我們的聲音)進入「歷史」軌道的途徑。「歷史」的起點就是「記述」和「被記述」。

活在當下,留住當下的某些碎片,好叫往後有可捉住的一點甚麼,可依循的軌跡,又或是認知著自己的「遺忘」的那錯愕。2019-2021。要記住是多麼的難啊!

這個已經兩個回合的宣言活動,有「運動」的慾望,沒有運動的實體,盼望留有運動的餘音、潛力。自從二月到四月的四次網聚之後,我的工作被卡住了,香港被重重卡住了,世界被卡住了,我們各自都在作甚麼?掙扎著甚麼?在沈默中,我想像著各人的天旋地轉。

在這個跨越3個年頭,超過12個月的創作活動要畫上句號的時刻,忽然有種簡單的釋然。這個其實是集團地個人的一段日子。就這樣,就這麼簡單。

翁子康黃慧心都說:要真誠。

請繼續上路。 (2021年4月6日)

 

Citation:

Allen, William S. Aesthetics of Negativity: Blanchot, Adorno, and Autonomy. Fordham University Press, 2016.

Badiou, Alain. Handbook of Inaesthetics; trans. Alberto Toscano. Stanford University Press, 1998/2005.

Badiou, Alain; Toscano Alberto, Nina Power and Andrew Gibson. On Beckett: Dissymetries. Blackwell, 2003. 

Braidotti, Rosi. “Writing as a Nomadic Subject,” Comparative Critical Studies 11.2–3 (2014): 163–184.

LeGrice, Malcolm. (Chapter 12) “Material, Materiality, Materialism” (1978), Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age. BFI, 2001.

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