What could expanded cinema be in the digital age when the impulses to understand multi-level consciousness could be articulated as the meeting of hardware and audio-visual data to be completed by visitors? Stanley Ng's experiment Circuit materializes all this, and further turns the installation site into that of meditation, the meeting of one's selves. (FP Editor)
INTERACTIVE EXPANDED CINEMA || Circuit: Cinema & Meditation 虛遊迴路：冥想與非主流電影院 || Artist: NG Sing-yiu 伍昇耀
Site-specific installation @Floating Projects | 2023.02.11-26 | (14:00-20:00) | Tuesdays to Sundays
Site view from the first weekend of opening: “Experimental Sound Bath 01” [VIEW video]
workshop series (in Cantonese)
|| 2023.02.12 (Sun) | 15:00-16:30 | Relaxation Sound Bath 舒壓聲頻浴 | 登記 Link for Registration : https://forms.gle/4Ezx4uMsdYhJzUHPA
|| 2023.02.18 (Sat) | 15:00-16:30 | Yoga Nidra 瑜珈睡眠 | 登記 Link for Registration : https://forms.gle/o94nDb5o4e3LarQW9
|| 2023.02.25 (Sat) | 15:00-16:30 | Experimental Chanting/Meditation 音樂唱誦共修 | 登記 Link for Registration : https://forms.gle/5CSUG3pWZCJcNqxx8
The Project’s Direction: contemporary cinema as a starting point
“Despite cinema’s heritage of technological and creative diversity, it is Hollywood that has come to define its dominant forms of production and distribution, its technological apparatus and its narrative forms.” (Shaw, Weibel, 2002). Taking up such a fact, my attempt is to employ my industrial post-production skill to create an experimental movie that has no character and plot-driven events, which mark traditional cinema that we know.
By breaking down the usual elements in mainstream movie production into finer micro components, my experiment focuses on what seems to be visual effects generative of sound effects. In consolidating this approach, I have also appealed to the new age Chakra Theory, chakra literally meaning “wheel.” As a spiritual and meditative theory, chakra is derived from a traditional scientific domain in which religious and indescribable sensations diffuse. Their ethereal characteristics are highly suitable to present in an abstract form of visual effect. With coding and basic technological principles, I have turned simple material into an installation for interactivity: the sense of touch emphasizes the visitor’s self-awareness, which simultaneously expands his/her consciousness into the different section of circuit: a cyclic world of chakra In the process of this, the visitor becomes a participant, like the main character in a movie. The whole set-up of the installation site and participatory experience raise the question: can this artwork be cinema?
New Consciousness in Movies
Back in 1970, In his book Expanded Cinema, Youngblood pointed out, “When we say expanded cinema we actually mean expanded consciousness. Expanded cinema does not mean computer films, video phosphors, atomic light, or spherical projections.” (41).
Expanded Cinema emphasizes new modes of consciousness, not new technology. Youngblood also pointed out that with video, a new form of cinema, there was a shift toward cosmic consciousness: “a completely new vocabulary of graphic language is available to the image-maker now that our video senses have extended to Mars and beyond.” (139). Moving image has the potential possibility to extend our consciousness to a new abstract experience. As an example, Youngblood mentioned the Stargate in movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick). “The astronaut encounters the alien monolith in crucifix-alignment with a string of asteroids and is seduced through the Stargate into a dimension ‘beyond infinity’- that is, beyond logic.” (141).
In this Stargate, the psychedelic colour, mysterious pattern and the continuous camera movement seduce the audience’s attention into a new cognition: a cosmic consciousness which is beyond our experience and present logic. Along this line of thought, one of the tasks of my experimental movie is to establish the experience of a meditative world through abstract visuality to achieve new consciousness.
What’s in my movie experiment?
My movie concentrates on chakra, which is the conceptual and subtle energy system in human body as the New Age discourse has it. There are seven chakras in our body: The Root, The Sacral, The Solar Plexus, The Heart, The Throat, The Third Eye and The Crown (Shrestha, 2009: 22). A unique scene is designed for each corresponding chakra, which allows the camera to wander and enter the chakra’s journey.
The Cyclic World of Chakra’s Flow
The book Chakra Therapy: for Personal Growth & Healing (Sherwood, 1988) details the characteristics of the first to sixth chakra and the seventh chakra further, “There is nothing but emptiness, and in emptiness one finds himself in the ALL, the universal field of energy and consciousness.” (156). In my understanding, the seventh chakra means all and nothing. As for the first chakra, the book explains, “We must consider it also as one end of a system that at the opposite end opens at the seventh chakra.” (135). The first chakra represents birth and life, and connects with the inseparable seventh chakra with the all and nothing. In my work, after the scene of seventh chakra, the first chakra’s scene will show up again, followed by the second chakra’s scene, the third chakra’s scene and so on... This looping order will keep playing as a cyclic world of chakra.
Connect to The World
As research on new age therapy indicates, singing bowls can open chakra (Shrestha, 2009: 21). Hence, the installation is referencing the shape of a singing bowl. When a visitor touches the installation, the black screen with noise will fade out then shows the cyclic movie: audience enters into the chakra journey in different time slot.
A key reference for me is Shaw and Groeneveld’s immersive interactive work Legible City (1989). They describes, “The Legible City is a pioneering interactive art installation where the visitor rides a stationary bicycle through a simulated representation of a city that is constituted by computer-generated, three-dimensional letters that form words and sentences along the sides of the streets...... Travelling through these cities of words is consequently a journey of reading; choosing the path one takes creates a recombination of these texts, and spontaneous conjunctions of meaning.”
In their work, the handlebars and pedals of the bicycle interface give the audience interactive control over direction and speed of moving in the virtual city. The interactive relation between riding a vehicle and the exploration of virtual city breaks the wall between audience and the screen, which effectively allow the audience to expand their consciousness to the virtual poetic world through linguistic recombination. The act of “riding” is significant for the visitors in enhancing their feeling of moving through space exploring, even though they basically stay on the same spot.
Likewise, my work involves visitors’ action. They are required to strike and rim. In order to minimize on-site control, striking is modified to touching, and the mallet for striking is simplified to a visitor’s finger. A visitor may rim on the singing bowl’s structure and simultaneously rotate an extra thin stick to affect the visual content of the movie. This is how visitors interact with a singing bowl, and how they experience the causal relation between the world of chakra and their being with the singing bowl-liked Installation.
Interactive Narrative in Circuit
Shaw and his co-authors quote a concept from another scholar to inscribe a more general principle of interactivity, “Serres explains the narrative relation between the subject and the object as two dynamically interdependent durational systems. For Serres both objects and subjects are interactively defined by their temporal relations.” One example, they cited, is Greek mathematician Thales’ system of geometrical measurement, “To measure the length of the shadow of a pyramid at a particular time of day is to express the interrelationship between an object in motion (sun) and an object at rest (pyramid). In enunciating measurement as the duration or tempo of the relation between the pyramid and the sun, Thales converts mathematics into a narrative form.” (Shaw, Weibel, Brown, and Del Favero, 2003: 5). Serres differentiates between two objects: whereas the distance between the sun and pyramid is objective, their relationship was subjectively narrated by the mathematician via the measurement of shadow.
In my work, Circuit, the movie and the singing bowl are structured as two independent objects. The movie of chakra is continuously playing; the “singing bowl” (my own hardware construction) stands stationary. Visible lights spread from the movie, and the singing-bowl structure reflects the light from the movie accordingly. The background noise (sfx) from the movie is conveyed to the singing bowl which then produces resonance. The two independent objects produce the interrelationship objectively. And yet the viewer’s subjective participation injects into the interrelationship between the movie and the singing-bowl structure. New versions of the fluid interrelationship are narrated or sung, further stimulating and modifying the sound and visual content. Via interaction and participation, the singing bowl structure generates new visual content from the visual data (the movie), which points back to the singing bowl’s affordance, producing complex interaction. This is how objectivity and subjectivity intertwine in the interactive participatory process of Circuit.
Is Circuit Cinema?
The very question I have asked from the off-set, “Is my work Circuit cinema?” To me, Circuit is an experimental movie, exploring narrative [editor: sequential unfolding with an impact] on a micro level, and turning what is usually considered “post-production” into the main phase of creativity, the final execution of which lies with visitors' participation. I have also sought to make a statement about interactive narrative as an experiment to combine machine objectivity and human subjectivity. Drawing from New Age impulses to experience “consciousness” on multiple levels, I want to see how moving image, technology and participation meet and converge for a more-than-single-medium kind of experimental cinema.
Shaw, J and Weibel, P. (2002). Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary after Film. Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. Retrieved from
Youngblood, G. (1970). Expanded Cinema. E.P. Dutton, U.S.A.
Shrestha, S. (2009). How to Heal with Singing Bowls: Traditional Tibetan Healing Methods. Sentient Publications.
Sherwood, K. (1988). Chakra Therapy: for Personal Growth & Healing. Llewellyn Publications.
Shaw, J and Groeneveld, D. (1989). Legible City. Jeffrey Shaw Compendium. Retrieved from
Brown, N, Del Favero, D, Shaw, J and Weibel, P. (2003). Interactive Narrative as a Multi-Temporal Agency in Future Cinema. The Cinematic Imaginary after Film. ZKM Karlsruhe and MIT Press.
About the Artist NG Sing-yiu Stanley 伍昇耀
創作領域主要圍繞 新媒體藝術 / 藝術性動畫 / 動態圖像 / 插畫。
A Hongkong artist who stands for freedom without doubt.
Active in New Media Art / Abstract Animation / Motion Graphic / Illustration.
After completing a higher diploma programme in animation, Stanley Ng worked in creative industry for around five years. For the purpose of pursuing an artistic breakthrough and interdisciplinary mindset, Ng returned to academic study for a Bachelor of Art degree at the School of Creative Media, the City University of Hong Kong. After graduating in 2022, Ng is still seeking for new knowledge to mature as a new media artist.