Linda Lai / A constellation with dotted connectivity: why I made a dispersive monument

Linda Lai / A constellation with dotted connectivity: why I made a dispersive monument

Linda Chiu-han Lai 黎肖嫻

Linda Chiu-han Lai 黎肖嫻

發表於: 09 May 2016

To make a monument that does not monumentalize… Linda Lai explains her conception of “Mnemonic Archiving” in which 19 new objects embody her videography to date at Pearl Lam Galleries-Singapore, 7 May – 3 July 2016.


“A constellation with dotted connectivity” / Linda Lai 黎肖嫻


"The work described below was partially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. 9042111 / CityU 11404614)"


Notes: <Mnemonic Archiving: a Dispersive Monument> (記憶存庫:流散的碑誌) is my work in a double solo with Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng in THE THIRD SCRIPT curated by David H.Y. Chan for Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore (7 May – 19 June 2016)  [PLG Facebook here] [Press interview… ]




Mnemonic archiving is conceived to be an archaeological site where fragments of the past of Hong Kong collected and preserved from varied sources are re-assembled to highlight their multiple connections, in the end casting doubts on wholesome stories and monumentalism, asking whether the spatialization of everyday objects, including fragmentary images, could offer an equally problematic yet productive access to the past as a grounded construction. The entire work builds on 22 videos of mine, most of them formerly published in film/video festivals and originally for single-channel viewing. These video works, the result of my montage practice, were further disintegrated into video fragments, then re-distributed and built into 18 sets of big and small sculptures, each with a moving image element, including a 2-metre tall “central” monument with everyday objects. I have assembled found footage on Hong Kong in the 1930s, my own video diaries from 1992 to 2016, and recombined short clips of mainstream feature films from as early as 1934 to the 2000s. What is “moving image”? On this site, I have turned still photographs into moving image sequences, I have turned a long poem into running texts on two LED rods, and built a mirror sculpture by which images move as we move. I have learned about my modes of mediated attentiveness, and turned the exhibition into an open journey, in which visitors are invited to attend to new perceptual details, and thus I’ve come full circle to my feminist practice.


Constructing the site…


Mnemonic Archiving is an “archaeological site” (rectangular, roughly 90 sq. m) for visitors’ diversion. They may take a stroll, sit down for a break, and immerse themselves into an environment of physical objects and media fragments that are at once familiar and estranging. The site that I create honors urban everyday materiality through which a less attended history of everyday life is given material presence. Embedded in this site are “fossils” – moving-image fragments of my city’s multiple pasts looping automatically on old television sets housed in old furniture and all kinds of everyday objects. Images of the past on this site are from the artist’s own image archive built from the past 15+ years – found images from my historical research and my own video diaries collection, fictional as well as documentary. The looping images are distributed, fragmentary and yet “live” presences from the past. The site’s central “monument” is a “tree” – a sculpture-installation standing upright, made with plastic hoses, bamboos, bamboo slabs, spades, steel rods, TV antennas, extension cords, rolled-up fabrics, umbrellas, parts of dismantled furniture and other longitudinal everyday found objects, bundled together by ropes, wires and white plastic binders. Breathing out from this tree monument is the occasional ambience of a 4-year long construction process recorded on video, a view, from the balcony of my home, of a primary school being demolished and rebuilt. The entire archaeological site is filled with silenced pasts that carry on a life of their own, independent of our enthusiasm or indifference. This work is a critique of contemporary visual culture obsessed with lavish spectacles and ready-made stories with titillating dramatic contours. “History” in this work steps down from well-formed stories to fragments of sight-and-sound in motion, to be received as visual poetry full of presences of references to the concrete past. Rather than boosting passive image consumption, Mnemonic Archiving invites visitors to sit and stroll through. I, the artist, unfold the past as an archivist and experimental historian. Archiving is the articulation of traces of the past. Archiving reveals and asserts power structures…


Envisioning the site…


On a temporary site of mnemonic archiving, a quietly spilling hysteria takes disparate abodes in fragments of banal everyday objects …


A dispersive presence: thoughts without a subject, voice without a body. Meditations: one of me in dialogue with another of me, retreating from the familiar …


Scattering around are my incessant attempts to articulate a quest that resists naming …


Is shared memory really possible? What does it mean by “shared memory”? The act of archiving alone matters …


Archiving is the articulation of traces of the past …


Perpetual attempts to remember without sharing …


Whereas our culture industry capitalizes on our desires for storytelling, archiving is the mockery of perfect narratives. An archive pertains to the potentiality of narrativity but guarantees no crafted events.


Digitality affords my play of juxtaposition, thus connectivity, forging a theory of the fragmentary, my cybernetic dreaming in the age of cybernetic capitalism.


Temporal fabric of still and moving images made perceptible …


I offer no certainty for what is the past, what is the present, and what lies ahead – except that I was there and I am here, and for likely traces of the future, an emergent presence.


This is the site conceived…


artist’s impression and concept sketch of the installation (technical drawing by Kel Lok)














This is the completed site before cleaning up…


Site installation completed on 6 May, the evening before the exhibition opened (image by Linda Lai)












‘Door Games Window Frames’ (machine sculpture) 景框戲門(物理版)/ 2016 版)


(image by Linda Lai) Details of ‘Tree of Life’ 物語生命樹 (sculpture, 2m tall, 2016) (image by Linda Lai)









從構思到建造,我朝著一個考古場去一步一部實現 《記憶存庫》讓那些傳留到現在、四處飄來而可被收集的香港我城的碎片得以重新組合,彰顯碎片之間若隱若現的多重連繫,暗嘲整全敘事的言之鑿鑿,或碑誌式情操的理所當然。然而,我的把日常生活的空間化,把影像碎片任意散開,又真的令已逝去的回來得更全神?至少,我肯定我的碎片論和反碑誌具有重新打開、以好奇心張開的力度,還帶點玩樂調皮的成分,所掀動的過去還能扎扎實石,建構的「歷史」有根有據。《記憶存庫》動用了22個我的錄像作品,大部分是曾在實驗電影/錄像節、短片節或記錄片節發表過的單窗觀看的作品,都是我的「蒙太奇」習作所出。在這個展覽中,這些作品的「蒙太奇」成分被進一步的分解,重新組合,給安置於18個大小不一的裝置式雕塑裡,其中包括一棵兩米高的「生命樹」,由日常生活的現成物組成,但都嵌有活動影像的元素。整個「考古場」的活動影像,跨越兩個世紀前後約八十年,引用的商業大電影從 1934至2000上。找來的現成新聞片和家庭電影遠及1930s,動用過的我的個人錄像日記從 1992 至 2016。「活動」影像在我所建造的場域裡擴展了。我下點「法術」,數碼圖像就活動起來變成錄像。我把大小不一,各有凸浮弧度的大堆鏡子和反光面分層的交錯重疊起來;訪客移動,影像就活動起來。我又把一首長長的主題詩放在兩條長長的LED 棒上徐徐的行走。「活動影像」就一定是電影機、錄影機拍出來的嗎? 作品數月經營終於呈現眼前,而我,認識了多一點自己看和「留意」事物的模式,又我的專注力如何因著媒體的中介而進深、轉化。那麼我的「考古場」便是一個偏離日常生活軌道的浸淫性散步,希望訪者會注意到有趣的感知的細節、質感。如是,我復歸女性主義的本位,找到新的實踐的出口。




《記憶存庫》是一個供到訪者閒適地游走的「考古遺址」(長方形,約九十平方米) ,這裏佈滿了你熟悉的、感親切的卻又怪異的物件及媒體片段,你可在這環境裏隨意漫步或坐下稍歇,徹底浸淫其中。我創作的這個裝置環境,佈滿著種種不起眼的日常生活的物件,呈現出都市生活的物質性。裝嵌在這「遺址」裏的是「化石」-尋常的物件,古老的傢具,舊式的電視機無間地播放著我們城市的活動片段,有藝術家超逾十五年的個人錄像和研究搜集的庫存-你可看到日記式的錄像藏品及對歴史的探索,虛構的紀錄性的揉合並置。這些循環流轉的影像雖短碎,卻直指已逝的歲月中真真切切的「活過」。裝置環境的核心「碑誌」是一棵「樹」:一個矗立的雕塑,由塑膠喉管、竹竿扁擔、竹片、鍬子、鐵竿、舊式電視天線、接線、一卷卷的布料、雨傘、被拆毀的傢俬及其它日常物件所組成,再以繩索、電線及膠索帶綑綁。「樹」上掛著一個影像作品,像開了一道窗,顯示著藝術家的窗前景,是 一間小學歷時四年拆毀再重建的施工過程,間或發出隆隆的機器聲,令這「碑誌」滲透出一種營營驛驛之中不經意的時光流逝。這遺址充斥著被去掉發聲權的過去的種種,都靜默的活在我們的當中自身存續著,獨立於我們的冷漠或煞有介事。當代的視覺文化沉溺於奢華浮誇的影像及刻意引人遐想的戲劇性故事,這作品就是對這種文化的批判,創作過程摒棄了故事的完整性,以活動的視覺與聲音片段建構過去的真實憑據,以可見可聞的詩篇形式呈現。記憶存庫誠邀訪客在這裏徜徉,而不是被動的接收影像。我,作為藝術家,以檔案及實驗性的歷史書寫牽出已消逝的往昔面貌。存庫是與過去痕跡的連接,存庫亦是對權力結構的斷言與揭示…













Details of ‘Day & Night / Years & Seconds…at Apt. 21B, Block One’ (2000-2004) 一座21B的流年、日與夜 (2000-2004) / a long scroll about 5 meters long (image by Linda Lai)
Details of ‘The Bush’ 矮樹叢 (object installation, 2016) (image by Linda Lai)



‘Dry Rain’ 雨綿綿 (a theater box, video and object sculpture, 2016) (image by Linda Lai)
‘The Bush’ (an ensemble of 6 video clips and 4 object sculptures); with ‘Apartment with a View’ (video + scroll) in the background (image by Linda Lai)
Details of ‘Tree of Life’ (image by Linda Lai)



This is the final completed installation presented in the opening on 7 May 2016. 

Mnemonic Archiving: full ambience (image courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore)
panoramic view (Image courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore)


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