It is perhaps a maker’s natural obsession to narrate oneself, deliberately or not, but through one’s life-time. A Trip to There, Tracey’s graduation thesis, is in a way a monumental push to enter this journey in flux. Embracing all she can, there also always seems to be void to fill. Traces of her having been there are as concrete with a forensic rigor. 每個創作者都曾經 — 以至窮盡一生 — 有意識或不自覺的記述自我。年青藝術創作人魏芷軍很用力的穿過這甬道,滿滿的收穫,卻又惘然若失;追憶是一種消耗。實在的卻是用時間和身體鑄出來的創作道途。愛看(錄像)作品的朋友們:這裡,你會讀到一個認真地記下來的寶貴創作歷程。潛進後,我們會對藝術的耕耘多一份敬意嗎?

2021.06.19 4-6pm“Fresh videos, in-depth transformation: 3 thoughtfully crafted journeys of the selves  |  D-Normal/V-essay expanded program in June 《平地數碼》六月膨脹學習見面系列 — Marathon Screening day

 

A Trip to There 《我在追憶,我在追,我在》

NGAI Tsz-kwan Tracey 魏芷軍

2021.05 | 20’16” [to view on Vimeo]

 

我遊蕩在時間線上,零碎散亂的片段隨我一路上走來,回盪著聲聲刺耳的話語,反覆詰問何去何從。然而沒有人回應,我繼續遊蕩。

《我在追憶,我在追,我在》是一份關於我面對個人紀錄及關懷的實驗性錄像記事。作品以系統式即興創作及自動書寫形式重新拼湊時空碎片,把靜止並陳舊的個人紀錄投放至具生命力的話語場景,為消亡的事件置入新意義,轉化成一段段跨時空的內在旅程。

 

開端

記錄於我而言,是以反抗姿態面對消亡的其中最有力方法,或至少抵抗了事件和記憶的徹底消逝。自建立了強烈的自我意識起,我便樂於記錄自己的不同面向和身邊的人事,思考個人形象如何被外界塑造,以及自觀的過程。

作品由上年的構思到現時階段,經過多重沉澱及掙扎,在面向觀眾或自己時亦有更誠實和集中的對話。由起初我在閱讀《觀看的實踐:給所有影像世代的視覺文化導論》時了解到拉岡關於鏡像階段的一些論述,談論到有關自我形象的分裂及完整性。文中應用於七十至八十年代的電影理論與我對於個人記錄的想法不謀而合,而且為我對自我形象的理解更提供了具體及規範性的學術討論。可是,基於我本身不太熟悉精神分析學的論調,亦較多以微敘事或錄像書寫作為創作主軸,而且我有太多想說想自白的事,一些對自我形象的剖析,因此我決定單純以鏡像階段的論述作為起點,思考身體於紀錄中體現的碎裂及延伸性,用直觀的角度去展開這次的創作。

我曾經思考過,究竟是我本身愛記錄生活,還是生活為我提供太多記錄的誘因和源動力,所以我的紀錄才會如此氾濫,自我形象亦變得複雜多變。在我成長的世代,科技提供了各種便利的生活工具,記錄儀器隨手可得。我經常追求能夠呈現最接近現實 (最寫實;近乎複製現實) 的生活記錄 ,不但是影像上,聲音上還是較折衷的書寫上,能記錄下來的我都會記下。漸漸不論是實體還是電子文件,也膨脹得無處可釋,而我亦愈加步入時空碎片所積的那個消亡但又鬼魅般閃爍的世界。

我記錄當下,是為了將來的無限重訪。當下,隨之被遺忘。

只有在那個已逝的時空裏,我才找回真實的自己。因為紀錄本身是誠實而且可靠的,我所呈現的虛偽和矯裝在紀錄面前是一個赤裸表現,我就得誠實地表現了自己的這個面向;以時態閱讀的過去和後來,紀錄更誠實地展現了自我形象的趨向和廣度。正因為我追求貼近現實的記錄,我必須覺悟到要兼顧作者視覺、作為觀眾的期待,和表現者欲求的自我揭露。我,作為記錄自己的作者,必須滿足在任何時候這三重身份的需要 — 即我要保留我的歷史,作出當刻複雜的反應,好回應將來的重遊和質問,以及行動主體的自觀及反省。作為觀眾,我對即將並已展開的訪遊有著一定的期待和疑惑。我質問有關自己的歷史,預想歷史推移過程,反省歷史與作者的距離。作為表現者,我有我的自白和體現,我在編制並嘗試表現多面向的自我形象。記錄,大概對我來說就是這樣的事。

「為甚麼我要如此執狂著生活無限分裂的碎片不願捨棄,而她們又可以通往何方?」我擁抱著碎片,反覆質問著自己。

 

躁動內在與遊轉的軌道

追憶是破壞性的,然而我無法停止自己把珍而重之的時空碎片慢慢推向被耗竭的結局。重訪是記錄必然的事,否則便失去記錄本身的作用。可是,我的記憶呢?我記住了,然後一一被記錄取代,我反成為沒有自己記憶的人,我必須依靠外在各種形形式式的跡象,以證明自己存在過。這是一個難過的消耗過程。然後,我對事件的記憶慢慢就只剩紀錄的碎化狀態,怎也拼湊不起我所渴望的真實。確切發生過在身體上的亦隨成長與我距離愈來愈遠,碎片中的那個我或我的就轉屬成她或她的了。我不清楚這是身體的延伸還是碎裂。

這些紀錄有著與現實不符的時間運動,因此我拒絕指向現實世界的紀錄回顧,把碎片之間的距離留在一個可以自足循環的遊轉軌道,以真實世界的灰燼創作一段非線性和脫離現實時空的自說自話。

我參考了電影《去年在馬倫巴》的敘事結構,故事以大量回憶 / 想像 / 話語等脫離單一時空並與現實相對的虛擬片段 (德勒茲提出的 “virtual” 相關概念的中譯 – 虛擬性) 建構角色的行動意義,即角色的背景、姓名和關係等資料,以及事件發生的所在地及時空都不是已有和被設定好的,而是透過敘事推移的揭露下所定義的。故事的時空錯亂,事件之間關係曖昧不明,交疊於呼應和介入的兩種姿態。另外故事內容更內部的自我指涉,不指向真實世界的任何歷史、文化或政治事件,而是一個內部循環的系統,即沒有故事以外的世界 (– there is nothing outside the world of the film)。在這個結構中或之上,電影必須有一核心命題作為推動力 (momentum) 引領事件的敘事層層遞進,以免發展散亂失焦:男主角渴求說服女主角他們去年相識並彼此約定今年重聚。這是想像、錯亂的記憶,還是純粹的敘事遊戲的結果?如何肯定?

就像《去年在馬倫巴》,我的《我在追》的聲影部分不依靠作品以外的任何系統,內部的細節互相自圓其說,在敘事軌道上,碎片與碎片堆疊,推展及衍生新的場景和意義。

 

操作

在整個創作中,我都在不斷改變自己的工作模式來適應不同挑戰。在構思期間我對於作品仍沒有太具體的想像,只是想到要把自己的紀錄和個人物件重新安置,令隨之而來的不同面向在一個封鎖的空間鮮活起來 (預想在拍攝上完成),並在碎片中重新閱讀及理解自己,回應反覆拷問的問題 (預想會在拍攝和剪接上完成)。但實際上,我要拍攝甚麼,我要怎樣拍攝,我在構思時沒有太大想法。慢慢我組織了團隊,為了方便溝通我寫了一個拍攝大綱 (不是劇本),然後在拍攝時專注已有場景並同時兼顧即興剪接 (用作有投影的場景,投影的片段舊至個人記錄,新至拍攝期間錄製的片段) 及拍攝安排。但整個過程除了拍攝大鋼的內容外,我更要求伙伴們隨時地記下大家共事、一起翻看我的舊照片和各種追憶及思考的過程,因為這些時光與紀錄的時光一樣誠實,我只是更大規模地實踐我的記錄習慣。

在創作後期,我無法以日常應對問題的方法應用於這次的創作上,我沒有文本可參照,拍攝大綱亦不是完整的作品大綱,收錄的素材大多亦散亂無序,我只有不斷思考、回帶、寫作、任意創作不同聲軌蒙太奇,以尋找可以前進的方法。然後,在以各式各樣的方法對作品置入想像,我慢慢在實驗中找回製作的節奏和推動力。我發現自己在實驗期間誤打誤撞地實踐了一種沒有接觸過的方式:系統式即興方法 (structured improvisation) ,多應用於藝術教育上,主要提出教育宗旨訓練學生在思考及實踐藝術創作時如何平衡個人自主與課程上的限制,以開拓思考空間及創作自由。在拍攝期間,大部分的時間主體都是浮動的,沒有清晰的故事線,大綱也只是一些環境的佈置,所以我會形容拍攝上我們大多都在「記下最有可能的」(capturing the most likely)。而在剪接時,我任由拍攝過記錄過的素材自動播放,沒有邏輯的聲影體驗反而讓我重新投入想像,它們有時成了片語,有時成了轉折句,有些更組成短詩般。漸漸我開始系統地進行即興創作,以自動寫作代替聲影組合,再以影像書寫錄像,以聲音書寫聲軌。作品就這樣在沒有預期目標的情況下,在斷段式的書寫間向前推進,然後走出多條遊轉的軌道來。

後期的思考和組合,比前中期的製作更耗時和掙扎,因此我會說作品的創作大概是在這個時候開始發生的,早前的都只是我在試著「記下最有可能的」。

 

創作時的寫作 (節錄)

1.

我的回憶總是晃動的,潮濕的,刺耳的,陌生且抗拒的。遊盪在時間線上,我陷入一種失語的狀態。我無法為過去的我辯解,亦無法與過去的我撇除關係。我只能眼白白看著事情依我記憶中發生,我已失去對我的過去的掌控力了。我像個不斷在尋覓可以根植自己靈魂的地方,或者在內在躁動中梳理出一道關於我的生活軌跡,又或是不斷在自我拷問,想問想知想探勘一切我有志於的事。

2.

失語後的,是無可逃避的面對。我要面對沒有永恆的停留或重覆;我要面對沒有可以補償過去缺席的時空;我要面對留下了的紀錄,它們重重覆覆,播放;暫停;快轉;暫停;倒帶…… 每一次的重覆,就像又一次損耗了我內心對事件的印象,我怕最後,我只剩記錄了的時空。我亦要面對沒有記錄低的任何瞬間,沒實在感的回憶,如鏡花水月,教我難以安寧。

3.

有一種鼓噪在我體內,她很想知道甚麼是我真正擁護的。

4.

面對後,我將梳理這一段時間以來的直視和想像。我回到現實的場景,把有的都展示出來,坦蕩蕩的;我在追憶。我仍在不斷找尋並扼問著可去往的地方,但漫長路上,答案也許不再如此頑抗,也許是豁然開朗的。

 

旅程

無疑這次有關追憶自己的創作對任何一個新輩出的年輕藝術創作者來說都是一件言之尚早,務之困難的事,要談論自己短淺的生活經歷,要不是有過難以釋懷的生活難關,又或是自己的生命快將結束,我想沒有人會像我這般愚蠢地開展這樣的一個題目。但是,能好好認真地面對和掙扎,最後誠實地自白,我想也未必不是一件挺好的事。

我反覆詰問著的,可能尚未得到圓滿的回答,但這旅程完結後,回答是否圓滿也不再重要,而我亦不需如此執著該問題了。

 

 

 

I traveled along the timeline, carrying clumsy fragments of my past, not knowing to where I could be led. I pursued, at points apparently getting somewhere, yet no one speaks to me except me wandering alone.

A Trip To There is an experimental video essay that forms conversations from my old documentations in response to the act of me reading my past and concerns. With the practice of systematic improvisation and automatic writing, I reposition my materials along the timeline, transforming past and unchangeable events into dialogues with new contexts, as well as creating a journey that penetrates spatial and temporal boundaries. 

The seed

Documentation, in my view, is a gesture of resistance, almost like refusing the complete vanishing of happenings, if not the death of everything. I have been documented by others and myself ever since I was able to distinguish “I” from others. These images reveal how I see myself and how I am shaped by my surroundings. 

From the original ideas I had a year ago to the current stage, this project has become more condensed and honest in terms of its value to me and the audience. I was fascinated by Lacan’s theory about the mirror stage when reading The Practice of Looking in the brainstorming stage of the project. It suggested babies encounter psychological change in self-perception when they first see themselves in the mirror, which has been applied to film theory in around the 70s to 80s. However, I have been more familiar with a materialist approach to image-making, and have produced works and studied courses grounded in a more phenomenological view on narrativity. In order to do justice to both my curiosity and a framework of practice to which I have committed myself, I unraveled the notion of the “mirror stage” like a seed to explore how it would generate new insights about self-images.

As for self-image, I got special “nutrients” from The Social Photo On photography and Social Media, which has enabled me to interpret my self-image through the years more objectively. I was born in a generation in which images of our own selves is no longer exclusive and private when compared to generations before us. Self-image in a way has become a kind of commodity, and its degree of authenticity is implicated in more than a handful of factors. As mentioned in the book, ‘the self-produced by a selfie and a traditional self-portrait are not the same. The connection of the hand to the cell phone at the moment of recording makes the selfie a sort of externalized inward look…The selfie undoes this photographic fourth wall because the observer is observed. You all see me, the same me, the me that I see and choose to share…’ 

 

I am my own loyal audience

I have studied images of myself like they are crystallized forms of me. In becoming my own audience, I found myself in constant expectancy of the potential revelations — what would my self-documentation revealed to me? As a performer cum protagonist, I was certainly deliberate in what to show about myself. Yet as the documenter of my own self, the other “I,” I have been driven by the how the past, the present and the future me could come together, gratified, forming a history of mine that could be told. And I have been very honest about the constructed-ness of a journey that seeks to reveal for the present and fulfil my curiosity as a future spectator of my past and present.

Unwritten principles have been established spontaneously in the many moments of me self-consciously rejecting my past lived experiences as a “closed case.” With all the footage I have stored carefully, I was led to the question, ’Why am I so insistent on not letting my past self go? Where would all this take me and how?” I also heard the voice in me, “I don’t want to be solely nostalgic, narcissistic and indulged in imaging, and there must be more to my drive [for my auto-ethnographic exercises*].” I want to create a work that at least provides me with some clues to my question, as well as to reconfigures the question critically. New focuses continued to emerge alongside my adamant thinking process and detailed documentation for the project. Bit by bit, I shaped the work into a video essay that reveals how I read myself, and one that concerns spatial and temporal changes. 

Unsettling noises; internal circulation

Reminiscence is always fatal and I can’t help denying it. The more I cherish my records, the closer I walk towards the erosion of them. I image my life as a habit, even as my instinct, but I have never got as close to them as to the point when I feel I am also inevitably bringing in potential destruction to my lived experiences. Documentation often replaces my memory and my immediate perception of what happened. Time and again, I found myself in the vicious circle of destroying what I treasure.

As memories are turned records, they become unsettling noises, symbols that arouse connotations of the past and the present self — they come uninvited, like I have no choice but to witness what happened happening again and again. And I expect all this.

I have no intention to pull all the records back to reality like a documentary of one’s growth, nor to demonstrate how much I have changed. The records already form their own temporal domain and could have only little relationship with what is current; they are what they are and stand by themselves. 

I am greatly inspired by the structure of the film Last year at Marienbad [Alain Resnais, 1961], in which the impact of virtuality (fantasies, memories, dialogs etc.) on the present impression is to define the character’s existence. Space and time are juxtaposed, generating new actions and meanings. The fluid flow between different space and time challenges the possibility of any chronological order of events that could be reconstructed. The film’s narrative has extreme demand on the spectator’s attention and her ability to distantly observe and draw connections from the constantly disrupted gestures and actions. It is not the plot points of a story but the flow of momentum bringing together disparate states of mind that sustains the narrative body: a man is trying to convince a lady that they have met last year and promised to meet this year. To. further destabilize the “story,” there is no background information about the characters but only their gestures and behavior, and the unpredictable “next step” of action in the unfolding narrative progress. Who these characters are is defined and revealed within the narrative trajectory.

In A trip to there, an internal audio-visual system is established without the relations of any system that is outside the work itself. Soundscapes, imagery and collisions of fragments are defined by their positions in the video work, and they develop and generate new contexts along the narrative trajectory. 

Operation

During the making of this project, I changed my work method constantly to be more adaptable to different situations. When planning the scenes for shooting, I could not just simply film what I have brought there — that would be without a focal point. But making up stories seemed artificial to me so I focused on just a few ideas about (1) planting my memories in a chosen location to let it grow, and (2) discussing the relationship between modified memory and its representation. Initially, I thought a majority of the final video work would be from planned shooting, but soon I found since 13 days in a rented location was not enough for an immersive experience to plant and grow my memory documents. In the end, the location mostly became a place for me to organize my thoughts; a lot of time was spent on assembling and organizing records, and to come up with possible treatment. The whole process is always in flux until post-production.

In the final phase, which I called post-production, it was difficult to apply my usual problem-solving method. I assumed that editing would be a matter of  “targeting and implementing” during the shooting. But since the project is not scripted, there is no direct corresponding realization, scene by scene, point-to-point, but approximating the potential use of my footage and experimenting. Through a series of collapsing my prior assumptions, I came to realize that my game is about adaptation and re-adaptation, that is, structured improvisation as an artistic method.  As a result of this, I became much less product-oriented, and what what it meant by problem-solving took on new light. My attention shifted to the overall shape of the work as trial endpoints to perfect my overall improvizational structure. “Capturing the most likely” was not only my principle of shooting process, but also throughout my composing process, which is how I define the experimental nature of the work. While editing, audio and video files were played randomly. Like in a game of automatism, they collided with one another, building seemingly relatable dialogues. They are no longer trapped by respective contexts and settings, they acquire new meanings as they form new phrases, gerunds and conjunctions that serve for longer sentences, and even full essays. Writing occurs not only in my expression of thoughts, but also of audio-visual entities; together they generate the momentum of my construction, like editing with a script, but one that evolves in the present continuous tense. 

The editing process took me a lot of time, which I believe was when artistic creation really took place, and when this project acquired its life. 
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Writings during the project-making (Excerpt)

1.

My memories are always shaking, humid, annoying, strange and rejected. Wandering along the timeline, I feel too much to utter(speechless, aphasia-like). I can’t defend but accept the past me. I can only witness the events happening again and again, as same as I expected. I am like a soul finding a place to be rooted, or combing a living path from the inner unsettling, or keep questioning myself, asking and finding things that I truly concern about.

2.

After the loss of words, it’s an inescapable confrontation. I need to confront that there is no forever staying or repetition; I have to confront that there is no compensation for the absence of time; I need to confront the records I have made, they repeat, play; pause; fast forward; pause; rewinding… My impression of it erodes as it repeats. I’m afraid that the documentation is the only thing left eventually. I have to confront the moments that haven’t been recorded, memories without proof, like the moon in water, always bothering me. I am stuck in the midst between the present and the gone world.

3

There is relentlessness in me, she wants to know what I truly embrace.

After facing them straight, I am going to comb the confrontation and imagination during this time. I return to the scene of this actuality, displaying everything I have honestly; I am reminiscing. Although I am still searching and asking where I am going, in this journey, the answer seems to be not that stubborn and relentless. It may be relieving.

 

The journey

This is undoubtedly a difficult project for a young artist to initiate which is about her reading her short and fresh past lived experience. After going through this journey, the question I raised in the beginning is still awaiting answers, yet the answer seems to be not that relentless. The question seems to be less important than the process of reading and writing.