Our Manifestos II upholds videography beyond the concern of moving image aesthetics and opens up the ethics of art practices to embrace the complex, crisis-ridden contexts in which we live. In the 3rd of the 5-part series, Linda Lai maintains the necessity of manifesto-writing to be fluid, performative, dialectical practices.《我們的錄像宣言2》於「據點一杯茶」5次連載的第3篇：黎肖嫻堅持宣言寫作思維實踐上的獨立性，撇開西方現代性的歷史包袱，辯證的、演述式的、柔潤的發揮宣言的力，儘管如何短暫，有待轉化。
**feature image by Linda Lai
Art, Renewable Power to Generate Knowledge: the Dialectics of Fluid Manifestos for Now
Video does not teach people anything. A videographer speaks and initiates an open game. Each work is an invitation. This is a challenge members of the Aurora Trip Sitters pose to all participants. “[We] refuse the hierarchical demarcation of the author (above) and the reader (below). From a phenomenological perspective, the author’s consciousness is not a transcendent existence, … We realize that this is not an equal sign between the readers’ noesis and the readers’ noema, and that the text is not the passive object. We emphasize the integration of the reader and the text itself, where the reader and the text become an inter-subject.” (05)
Winsome Wong humbly compares each of her video works to a room she builds in order that others may come in to do what they find fit. (7-33) She describes her space to be without willful deliberations and there are no absolute measures by which she constructs a version of our world. In fact, as she puts it, “Some conscious emotions are almost impossible to fit in logic or an existing language. … And I set no restriction to what I think and how I think.”
video still from The Song You Once Played on My Harp, Selina Lo
Between the lines and words of our authors, I sense an unstated sentiment: so much we can express that there is no end; so little we can do to make our world better, even if we find ourselves in great haste. This probably is why Manifesto 1 (M1, 2016-18) needs Manifesto 2 (M2, 2018-2021). In M1, we felt free to be self-indulgent: we discovered our voice and its other possibilities; we learned to be responsible “authors,” be sensitive to the movement of our selves; and we made effort to “conceptualize” what we made and subjected it to writing exercises. While marking out a personal territory with measures is inevitable in M2, we feel we should make more artists join the conversation, no matter how small a community we would remain in the midst of the big art world out there. And this is an important move.
Is Video Manifesto 2: Documentary Impulse a book accompanying 67 videos, or is it a collection of statements illustrated by the videos? Neither, nor. It is the documentation of a thorough process of self-dialogues, individually and collectively. The book (plus the works on Flash storage systems) speaks of those months and years and how we lived and survived through those difficult moments. We spoke and thought we should be heard – narrative selves already in the state of becoming. The time of preparation could be three years, 2018-2021; but the sentiments and impulses could be dated back to many more years ago. For me, it is a life-time of changes and breakthroughs, and I am sure that is true for many more of us.
Anti-Manifesto? Turning away from European Modernism?
“Manifesto” the term has drawn anxiety and restlessness. For that, we keep Bobby Chen’s original statement in our “features” session, which resists the burden of Modernism. (06)
My response to Chen is simple: manifestos, why not? Must we always take a historicist position? Must we take the entire historical baggage that prescribed manifesto-making on our back? Must we always align ourselves with the discourse history of the West? Are we not free to make organized claims and re-invent manifestos? And let’s be a bit more playful. Manifesto-writing does not need to be mapped point to point, line-by-line to the higher planes of art history in the West. We write our manifesto today in order that we can revise it in future. Manifesto-writing is not the same as making grand plans for the future. So, let’s just press the button, or answer the doorbell. We do, however, want to mark our present state of being through this manifesto exercise.
From a performative standpoint, an anti-manifesto is also a manifesto, from a specific interlocutor. Without any intention to divorce myself from my left-academic origin, I am more, to straighten the record, taking a nomadic feminist position to interrogate actions possible and relevant to how we live on here and now. It is felicitous that we have gathered an international community of artists rather than squeezed the project into localism, which is much on demand. Our subject positions change and we change in relation to how we come into the presence of others. There is no room for singular essential position: neither localism nor nationalism; the so-called international vision should always be subject to critique and revision, nor are we relativists.
A post-feminist, nomadic vision behind this project is affinitive with a materialist view of videography, premised on knowledge and theory resulting from acting out, in a human-technics co-agentic reality. Dialectical materialism remains the origins of speech-act performativity, the latter a methodology we owe to Judith Butler and the deconstructionists starting with Jacque Derrida. Butler does not actually teach us “what to do” and “how to” do something but, instead, gives us the reasoning to keep re-reading and re-writing, or to be in action, in order to keep the interpretive circles open, to detach ourselves from a fundamentalist base, much like how Michel Foucault advises us to behold the ordinariness of everyday life as the playing out of concealed and constructed value systems effectuated by structured power in history. To the constructed nature of artistic realities: steer away, and that means acting out, such as mobilizing the language we are good at. And this long string of thoughts is where I locate the activist nature of this project. If this stands, we may not need more and more manifestos, but we must not stop making new ones.
The history of manifestos in the West, despite its utopic overtone, is, in fact, anti-utopia, and this sentiment we share. (Think of the Surrealist movement, the Dada Manifesto, those of the Fluxus and the SI and so on.) Manifestos can neither be envisioning a utopia nor against a dystopia; they demand a concrete point to stand on to facilitate acting out, which is what we are doing. Being able to write our own manifestos is the evidence of our having lived and survived, and the fragments of thought we manage to grasp are saying, “I’ve been here and I’ve made my mark, and please come to visit me again in the near future.” […/ to be continued]
video still from Dark Global Carrier (2017), Marcus Vila Richter
我從字裡行間感受到：好像說也說不完，說也並不對急待「改良」的世界產生怎樣的改變，好像頂多就是我們自己和自己說話，互相砥礪而已。也許這是為何吶喊之後還要吶喊。一次的吶喊（「錄像宣言一」，2018），發現了自己的聲質、音量，還有聲音裡的細節。我發現「自我」的強調在創作是很重要的；「自我沉溺」也是必須經過的一步。把一個作品延伸為一個理論、個人的國度 (a marked out personal territory with measures) 是合理和必須的「虛榮心」，那接下來怎樣？為甚麼要有「錄像宣言2」？因為聽到更多的聲音、更多的姿態；更重要是讓更多勤勞地耕耘於遠近各地的錄像書寫人發現彼此的存在，無論我們是怎樣細小的一群。
陳品陶的「非宣言」也是一種宣言。認同他指出的，我們無須追歐奉美而把他們的進步或革命方式移植到香港。可必須指出，這絕對也從來不是「錄像宣言2」的包袱。舊／傳統左翼思維並不是我們的共同基礎，西歐的「現代性」的崩潰更不能用來調理或妨礙我們此時此地在香港的對前進、如何活下去的思考。但能夠找到與國際思維的景觀且可共同站立的點是重要的；如是，作爲這個計劃的發起人，我個人更貼近的是後女性主義的胸襟，是唯物論的基礎，強調知識理論生產與實作的對流、強調不會關閉的辯證圈。不實活實作，哲理何來？不生產理論，純操作，又那來進步？同樣是女性主義之所出，沒有理論是終極、可為現實定性的：重讀重寫是為了不住的重讀重寫，保持辯證圈的活潑靈動。就連所謂「另類」也是短暫的，等待有一天被質疑、被翻新，在它變為主流之前就要重新打開。這樣的「展演」式的態度以至方法學，自朱迪思·巴特勒 (Judith Butler)、以及後結構和解構主義哲學（如 Derrida 德里達的論述）早已豐富的提出了各種思考和行動的位置。我提到 巴特勒，特別因為她並沒有「教」給我們甚麼新的答案，而是鼓勵我們擺脫「必然」的「底」，正如米契·福柯 (Michel Foucault) 著我們必須留意理論以至價值體系和日常實踐背後的歷史權力的語境，其「被建構」的性格。巴特勒則強調：要擺脫，就要著手行動 – 這也包括運用語言活動，例如聲影。從她的理論和個人實踐，我看到了錄像書寫所領有的（文化社會性的）行動性 (activist) 空間。如是，我們不是需要更多的宣言，而是要不斷高舉發出宣言的行動，又或近似的行動，各自的、瞬間的、多姿多彩的、眾聲喧嘩的；正因為演述式的宣言是對「烏托邦」的拒絕，每一步往前走，「烏托邦」就化解了、變形了，只是最好又生出另一些烏托邦來，像旗幟的可以依著往前再走一小段路。《錄像宣言2 : 記述的衝動》正好是我們曾經發過宣言的證據，甚至是殘留的證據。然而瓦礫碎片是重要的，因為它們其實是「她／他們」，是我們發著微弱卻清晰響亮的聲音：我活過，存在過，來過這片宣言之地。潛台詞是：你最好改天再找我聊聊，看我活得怎麼樣。[…/ 待續]
view still from WU Jiaru’s Parasympathetic Hong Kong