FP member Kel Lok tells the tales of “those swords,” “those soldiers,” “that house” and “that model,” which embody moments of his life, his temperaments and his persistence that are best presented as toys in TOY AS MEDIUM, opening 20 November 2016 at Floating Projects.
[***English translation follows after the Chinese text and Related Readings. Please scroll down…]
由殘件組成之物：《那堆怪兵》 Those Soldiers
為他人而作之物：《那間小屋》 That House
Toy as Medium: FP Assemblage 玩具之間－ 句點聚疊 [event post]
Hello! You just want pure playing, just for fun. Andio Lai’s four-wheel drive and Wong Fuk-kuen’s B-Daman are yours truly.
To see for yourself fine craftsmanship in model making – Wai’s works will be a big feast for you.
In case you are interested in toys’ function as a medium, or want cultural analysis of objects that filled our playtime, come to meet all artists and join them in a discussion!
There is a lot more: fine drawings, sketches, tokens of love, nostalgic audio-visual clips, out-of-print vintage items, memoirs and mementos, you name it…
At this point, you’re probably wondering,
“So what are you doing here?”
Allow me, then, a formal introduction here to my toys:
“Hi, how are you? I’m here to tell you stories.” These are about my four (types of) toys and their little tales.
Unintentionally formed toys: Those SwordS
For a while I have been wondering: did I just grab garbage and turn it into another form of garbage?
In the beginning, there were only two inconspicuous wood planks abandoned in a corner and a belt machine of minimum usage.
I pressed the plank on the machine and, magically, thickness diminished as wood transformed into dusty power. Time flowed. I let the machine take me to feel the minute vibration as it did its job, automatically. Corners and edges smoothened; surfaces grew suave. And I found myself immersed in calm and utmost concentration on my fingers’ sensations. The birth of the wooden knife was just a by-product.
One knife after another… My species of “wooden swords” grows with morphological rigor. So here I am at “Toys as Medium,” with 20-something numbers born of my calm and leisure. It seems though, in the process of time, the “I” that made the swords and the swords that were made have been morphing, morphing into…
Assembled toys with hybrid bodies: Those Soldiers
As it is known, in a model kit, there are always some extra or surplus small parts, and that is no exception to kits for military miniatures. You want to take a lot at FP manager Wai’s miniatures: each one of them generated some left-over, unused parts, which, as the Chinese saying goes, are like the meatless rib-cages of a chicken, that is, no good for food, and yet a bit of a waste to be thrown away. Committed to the thought that there must be some use to every piece of material existence, I was determined to “exhaust” the last bit of “use value” of these abandoned parts. I took some glue and started to combine and mix, piece and collage, and sorted out ways to turn these “tasteless rib-cages” into something: to “broil” it, dry it, perhaps to “marinate” it with a bit of my own madness, to see if I may get “chicken powder” at the end of it.
Nil or all the through… I find myself in an endless journey that is wide open: assembling is a serious deal. I have not managed to make “chicken powder,” but what came out of this game is extremely “tasteful” – weird looks, unnamable objects, shocking combinations kept coming… It is no Frankensteinian nightmare.
When he/they — as one may become ten — gathered together, and while listening to Wai’s stories of World War II, alien stories began to pop up in my mind….
I started to write the imaginary stories about these soldiers…
Behind the Second World War, two facts are rarely known: Team Abel from America and Team Regenerator from Nazi Germany.
Abel, named after the second son of Adam and Eve in the Bible, though loved by the Lord, died as he was killed by his elder brother Cain. The naming of Regenerator would be obvious. Both of them consisted of the handicapped. They were teams formed by weird soldiers with unknown techniques.
A Toy Made for Others: That House
Fourteen years of togetherness. To have her accompanied through the most difficult days, like with a cat that hanged around at all times… and she’s now gone.
No matter how well prepared I were, psychologically, the moment of departure remained insurmountable to me. Words of consolation, care, chats to ease the mind… were all in vain.
No matter how much you cherished a person, or how much you want to protect or be on guard, frail words simply fail us. What an impotent role I found myself when you couldn’t even cheer up a person at a critical moment.
Who am I? Who is she? What is she thinking about? What does she feel? What does she need? What is it that I can do? What do I know? What else can I do for her? No matter how brief and short-lived, is there anything that may make her happy?
Would a toy work?
I found “them,” toys, and use them to make my own, and sent “it” to her…
A toy made for the future me: That Model
I heard there are three kinds of purchasers of model kits:
Type one – Players: they start assembling and building once a kit arrives in their hands, wasting no time to enjoy the process of “making” or perhaps to re-present the scenarios they see in their mind’s eye.
Type two – Collectors: Not only would they keep the packaging intact, they also apply additional wrappings to preserve it for good in its most perfect state.
No doubt, I am the former. To me, the only way to understand the mind of the designer and the fine design is to start making – from preparing the parts, organizing them, tweaking to assembling. The point is to turn the parts into material forms, so the work will come to life. For those perfectionists, preparing the ground, filling in the gaps, differentiating the color layers and in what order to apply them, whether to spray or to paint and so on are integral parts of the game. The skills required of mimetic perfection cannot be summarized in a few words. When you are in front of Wai’s miniature, you will need no more of my persuasion.
“That model” I present here is a little bit different. This box set is only half-done. That’s not because I don’t want to complete it, but that I don’t want it to be completed. I want to leave it to the “I” in future to finish it, “more” perfectly. This work, then, is about semi-preservation. My inspiration comes from a favorite animation pictures in my children: its story imprinted in me, and its ethos ever since then have been mine. Psalms of Planets Eureka 7. “Do not ask for what is too much. Learn to fight for it; if that’s the case, you’re sure to get something.” I’ve been that Renton Thurston all these years and will continue to be so.
Type three – the model warehouse-keepers. Like mine, their models are not exactly untouched, nor exactly waiting to be finished. They simply want to send these models to their future selves. The difference is, after all the mindful business of life, big or small, they have no time and energy left for re-assembling the models except to bring those pieces back home. And because of this, their unfinished boxes accumulates and form a warehouse, with the only hope left that one day they might have the luxury to spend, such as in a long vacation, to complete all of them. Isn’t that a little pitiful? Perhaps it is a kind of “romance” to look at these beloved toys and secretly hope one day this little wish will come true.
- * *
Humans and toys – that I believe involves what’s embodied in the Chinese concept of yuan fen, that is, fated chance encounters and predestined affinity that leads to relationship. Encounter is chance; affinity is relationship. Encounters are chanced affinity. The encounter of two persons could be fated chance, but does not necessarily lead to a relationship. One may say it’s all numbered in heaven. But the fact that you are reading my words now is somehow a significant chance encounter. Relationships are not just predestined but a result of our effort.
So I come here to this show to tell my stories. Yet the “aftermath” of my four stories, be it sequels or prequels, are in the hands of those chanced to encounter me and will to sustain their relation with my works. The actual toys in the show will take you in further onto my voyages of yuan fen. (November 2016)