Why is narrativity a relevant artistic concept in a data-driven milieu? An exhibition with 36 works speak — as videos, collage and photomontage, installation, pictograms, creative writing and game plans, by BA students at the School of Creative Media. The Ventriloquists 2021.
Exhibition venue: Singing Waves Gallery, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, City University of Hong Kong
Exhibition dates: 2021.08.17 – 2021.09.12 | 1-6pm weekdays, 11am-8pm weekends
The Ventriloquists are back.
Created in 2020 by artist-scholar Dr. Linda C.H. Lai to show the artistic experiments of BA students in Narrative Strategies (a core course for BACM students at SCM), the 2021 edition returns with 36 works by students (from the spring 2021 cohort) at the Singing Waves Gallery. We want to open up the discussion of why narrative concepts are central to artistic creation in a data-conscious milieu.
Ventriloquists speak without moving their lips, yet their voices are clearly heard. The ventriloquist is a paradox. S/he communicates in the liminal zone. Showing or telling, they invite imagination and attentiveness. Soundings over themes and messages.
“The Ventriloquists: Thinking Narratively 2021” is a sight-and-sound assemblage, a constellation of video dreamwork, thought paths as collage and montage sequences, visual analysis of well-known moving image works as pictograms, generative video and creative writing, and prototypes of game worlds…
Each work is a world of its own, together they form a carnivalesque clash of countenances.
Why does narrativity matter?
Narrativity honors structuration, organization, patterning and potential extension of a work.
“Thinking narratively” highlights the process of audio-visual reasoning… from step to step, from moment to moment, from details to more details…
Narratives are thought paths. By extension, they are about the process of unfolding and evolvement — thoughts, emotions, abstraction…
Narratives are the sequential ordering of elements that amounts to constructed truths and invented realities.
Narratives are persuasive arguments without stating it.
Narrative is NOT the synonym of story but constructing it.
Narrative is NOT the opposite of documentary but the latter’s body.
Narrative is NOT the enemy of abstraction but strengthens the latter.
Narrative could be as macro and/or micro as we could possibly imagine it. There are narratives on other narratives. There are narratives that look below the level of daily events — the process of erosion, the germination of a seed, changing moods and changing modes of attention, the changing pattern of a city’s traffic, how water boils and food cooks in a pot, the contrasted time flow of simultaneous actions, and more.
To the student experimenters in the show, there is no limit to the resources they deploy – maps, musical scores, codes, cut-outs, surrealist automatism, story-boarding, still and moving images and more… Narrative thinking moves beyond medium-based creativity.
Narrativity can be time-based media such as in videography; it could also be understood spatially as paintings, collage, pictograms (creative infographics) or an installation.
2021 Ventriloquists: Dream Narratives and the hidden “I”
Whatever the final artistic form is, a common characteristic of this year’s works can be described as the exploration of the “dream narratives” – by which students explore story-telling approaches that assert the irrational mind as a human reality not to be dismissed. As it is developed from Sigmund Freud’s understanding of dreamwork, where our hidden selves are at work, the dream narrative presumes our unconscious mind to be rich creative resources. Our dreamwork takes narrative forms, and many artists have developed their dream vocabulary.
“Dream narratives,” meant to gain understanding of our dreamwork and our hidden desires, cannot be equated with the unconscious, but are structured passages to tap its resources and to gain understanding of ourselves.
Within the realm of dream narratives, many artists in this show deal with darker subjects like mental illnesses, personal or family traumas and nightmares. Often a work starts with the question, “What happens when you let your mind go free?” Or, in reference to Freudian dream analysis, “Is it possible to have glimpses of our selves at work beyond our conscious mind?” From this point on a journey begins, many of which tend to be surreal, fragmented, and towards abstraction.
Somewhere in these artistic-creative journeys, a common grammar of sight-and-sound narrative features has emerged. Timelessness, fast cuts, disruptions, motion paths, multiple layering, the use of ambience and silence, primary colors and so on. Such strategies are equally widespread in the pictograms, photo-montage sequences, writings as much as in video works.
2021 Ventriloquists: Process – Systems – Structured Randomness
Artists in The Ventriloquists 2021 experiment with narrative concepts, not only to unfold less told stories, but hopefully to think of how sight and sound, text and audio-visual components could be understood as data with generative power.
In their interpretation of the present, many of the artists dealt with darker subjects like mental illnesses, personal or family traumas and nightmares. Many works stand proof of the possibilities to turn crisis experience into innovative creations; distress or vulnerability could be given a form imaginatively and analytically to incite conversations.
Experiences could be collective, but in art it is about the way an individual perceives the world – it is the details that matter. In fine details we piece together faces of our milieu, through the intertwining of empirical details and what may only be traceable in our dreamwork.
Artistic, cultural, and social influences shape the body of works in this year’s “The Ventriloquists: Thinking Narratively.” Each student show her/his own take on narrativity. They are all ventriloquists seeking to tell the struggles within their mind.
(Linda Chiu-han Lai and the Ventriloquists team 2021)
The 2021 edition is executed by a student committee of four.
Michelle Angela Japson
Thore Flynn Hadre
Kel Lok, Technical/Production Supervisor
Dr. Linda C.H. Lai, Project initiator, Project Chief, Instructor
To read all posts from The Ventriloquists 2020. http://floatingprojectscollective.net/author/ventriloquist/
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