Too Long Ago, Not Far, Winnie Yan's FPC open door solo (2023.09.16-10.08), turns the play with sight-and-sound fragments into a subjective-materialist time-space asserting a decentred subject. 《在不太遙遠的很久以前》 (據點打開門個人發表 2023.09.16-10.08) 延續了忻慧姸對聲影碎片創造物理性的主體時空的執著和好奇。
Floating Projects | 據點。 句點
JCCAC L3-06D (Tuesday - Sunday 2 - 8pm, Closed on Mondays)
No matter where I am, as long as I see birds fly by, I feel safe. In Too Long Ago Not Far, I loiter in contrastive distances between points, parabolas and echos, to describe things that repeat within a certain period of time. Memory has never stopped to (re)write over or cross-link the compressive states of oblivion. Undertaking Yan’s on-going practice of constructing a spatial-temporal void from loose diaries, this current show carries on with deploying image-making tools of all sorts to extend sessions after sessions of familiar moments, thus her way of bidding farewell through collaging, reconstructing and speech renunciation.
The other day L raised a physics question in the office. “Does time transit faster up the mountain or by the river?” she asked. I guess it’s the mountain.
March 17, 2018
Her home is coated with shades of burnt yellow ochre: aged newspapers baked by the lights, a rusty kerosene stove, and a cubicle cramped with old appliances. She said she wouldn't buy anything again even if something is broken or gone. These days I often pat her shoulders. Her arms are so thin the shape of her bones is clearly visible. In the past few years, I have occasionally been asked about my habit of keeping a diary or not. I just realized the last entry was already seven years ago, and nothing special happened these days.
One midnight I received a text message from a stranger and I waited until the following afternoon to respond. Sunrise and sunset, I copy-pasted all the things she asked about one by one. It wasn’t until I asked friend C in the evening that I realized the stranger was a friend I made a few days earlier. That day, I asked her during the screening if she wanted a piece of the half-melted Meiji chocolate I pulled out from my bag. She treated me to a piece of chocolate cake afterwards. In about two years’ time, she will see the message I sent.
I have forgotten why I wanted to jump into this hole. Too Long Ago, Not Far refers to a state of compression, which describes the different kinds of blurred boundaries between the many things that happen within the same period of time and their consequences. Be it a long time or just a brief moment, similar or analogical events repeat and superimpose, morphing, dispersing, and emptying out the content of a specific temporal order, as if that event happened a long time ago (subjectively speaking), even though it is just a few days ago (actual time).
Day A – morning: waking up--taking an exam; noon: visiting friends; evening: watch films; sleeping
Day B – morning: waking up--going to work and writing; noon: strolling with colleagues; evening: looking at my mobile phone; sleeping
What I really care for is the pattern and conditions of classification and separation involved in the process of recording. There are those things that can never be clarified by logic or in a few words, as they are just tokens of habits and conventions. Foods that belong to different points of time and occasions, strangers turned colleague, the transitional phases of friendship, including the fine cracks caused by, say, different posturing or aura. When I was young, my music theory teacher would call notes “tempeh” (fermented soybean). To me, notes as notations are visual objects, concrete assignment I depend on to grasp my position – to connect one group of display with another, and to understand a network to be a community, or city, or home, and to add “my” or “our” before these nouns. This is a dog, or this is an animal, or I could also call it “Biggie” (that's the nickname of my neighbour's little dog); Biggie lives nearby, and needs to be walked around 8:00am and 10:00pm every day. So on, so on and so forth. Flat portraits gradually grow three-dimensional. Remember: naming is a way to establish relationship. Until there are no more mimosa on the roadside, park benches are separated by handrails, and the ikaguras change their gathering place, I would always be in doubt, feel lost, and hesitate, “Do I still like it here?” In every place, we would always be thinking of another similar space or the template of its likeness. Perhaps we have always taken for granted that things exist naturally the way they appear to us. So, one day, if their aura changes, and even if something is wrong, we would just slowly get used to them over time, acknowledging our own insignificance and, reluctant or not, we would embrace and forget.
When I first took up this Super 8 camera, I already knew I was about to leave. A said that I was like a person who is running forward with great difficulty, but is constantly being pulled along. Following up on the imitation visual test in my previous work Localized Blindness, this current event, Too Long Ago, Not Far, alludes to the English textbook "Huaying Tongyu" mode to record everything I want to read over and over again, just like opening an emergency manual in my pocket in survival mode. Huaying Tongyu [《華英通語》, literally, interchangeable expressions between Chinese and English, first published in 1867 in New York] is the earliest English textbook for Chinese people. The book uses Cantonese phonetic notation to teach the pronunciation of English words. It occasionally includes short sentences for daily use, to convenience Chinese users who need to contact and negotiate with foreigners. This mode offers me the base for a kind of counterattack, and from which I derive my response to the many questions posed to me about my previous art games: I was often asked about my choice of language in the dialogue, and various narratives that crudely summarized the city as a neon city. I was obsessed with these things that would be reviled by teachers as aimless. Empty lens, I think my existence is no different from theirs.
In his book Place: an Introduction, human geographer Tim Cresswell cites writings on the Tlingits (Indians in Juneau) – how, due to their daily needs, the territory Indians gave the ocean many names according to their movements. On the contrary, the surrounding land was completely ignored as if invisible, and it was “a realm without meaning,” or simply “a fact of life” only (p. 10) Accordingly, in my solo, words, phrases and their translations are compiled from several editions of Chinese and English Phrasebook, with Chinese Pronuncation Indicated in English (huaying tongyu《華英通語》). A city and its looks, rather than being defined by a “dictionary,” should instead be said to be based on a bored flâneur – my identity and vision -- who looks repeatedly by different paths, making attempts to understand textbook meanings against things around her. The shells under my feet, the back of my father’s head, and the cart at the end of the street are all presented in similar sizes and measures through the viewfinder. Everything taken here looks like a portrait, not landscape.
My works record different kinds of loops in our city. The blossoming and withering of plotted flowers at home. Renovation and demolition in different districts and communities. The never-ending horse races. Birds flying in and out. The marked pronunciation in the Chinese and English Phrase Book conjoining “cut” and “cat” with the same utterance. The complexity of Cantonese sounds and other linguistic forms. The hustle and bustle of people coming and going in the city. The chaos of objects scattered across the city. Even if I occasionally find overwhelming pressure and difficulty in breathing, in the very same moments lie the intimacy out of almost twisted love – the same warmth I feel when hearing my grandma using dirty words in the lounge waiting for our return flight.
The day this solo event ends, I shall have already gone to a different place and received the final box of developed film. I remember that every time I toy with celluloid film, I would be asked, “Wouldn't this be a little wasting film stock?” Instead of answering whether using film is a matter of personal sentiment, I assert that my reason of using film is precisely because I want to make it an event about preserving my fragmented memories, or, to be more precise, Super 8 makes me care more about the very act of a gaze. Each moment is like an eye's blink, brief but indifferent to the clarity of the record. When using film, the care of pressing the shutter, waiting for a reply from the photo studio, and the various low-level mistakes that could lead to overexposed images and so on, constantly remind me of the richness of the place my camera captures, just as my work is also the work of a machine.
For a while, people I didn’t know very well would often say to me out of the blue, “If you slow down a little bit, you would fall behind.” I had no way of knowing what I was falling behind or where I was going. Maybe in those so-called backward days, I was in fact happily partying with three hundred puppies and leaving my creation far away. Or perhaps I was in a kind of melancholy and overthinking the uncontrollable future, and therefore indulging in nightmares about all kinds of things that could happen.
No matter what, I have gradually grown used to escaping, like I just described in the above.
人文地理學家 Tim Cresswell在《地方》一書提及特領族印第安人因著生活所需，按照他們的移動為海洋起了繁多的名字，相反周邊的陸地卻如隱形般被完全忽略，是個「缺乏意義的領域」。作品中的詞語與其翻譯由數個版本的《華英通語》集合而成，與其說是要以「字典」定義一個城市的模樣，反過來應該說成是以我這一個百無聊賴的遊蕩者(flâneur)的身份與視覺，透過不斷重複的路徑觀看，嘗試以四周的事物理解教科書的含義。腳下的貝殼，爸爸的後腦，街巷盡頭的手推車都是以差不多的尺寸透過觀景器(viewfinder)在我的右眼呈現。這裡拍的都像一面肖像，而非風景。
That day, it was raining. My hands were shaking when shooting finished. I was screaming a whole bunch of bullshit out of my adrenaline rush to A who was far away. I want to remember that moment and the loose irrelevant fragments before and after.
那天下著雨，拍完手一直在抖，跟遠方的A 嚷著一大堆adrenaline rush的廢話 —- 想記住這瞬間與之前之後的所有零零碎碎無關 。
“…time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” - Jean-Paul Sartre “On The Sound and the Fury: Time in the Work of Faulkner”
J once asked me, with a blank expression on his face, whether I had asked why my works were often about illness, such as video Localized Blindness and screenprints Stammers. I said I never thought much about it. Theoretically speaking, illness really looks like a form of irritating defects, and yet it is a state of being, just like I had once laid in bed for over a month, overwhelmed by the helplessness of waking up every morning just to watch the sun placing another thin sheet on my body. And days as such went on and on numbing my senses. Even now, occasionally, my spinal chord would return to me the sensation of those bedridden days. Then many years have passed, and I find myself killing time via artistic creation, or I happen to have to get along with a co-worker who stammers. Not a single time have I felt annoyed. Writer Wai Chee Dimock once pointed out that the character Benjy in William Fulkner's Sound and Fury, though broadly agreed to be defined by idiocy or mental retardation, is not represented as someone with deficiency. In fact, according to Faulkner, there is a certain self-centeredness and idiocy in the purity of children, but it is precisely because of their status of infancy that they can demand compassion and love from society. Faulkner's narrative uses Benjy's almost extreme blind innocence to magnify the stereotype of the chaste identity of the younger sister Caddy, and he extends this perspective to reveal the various conflicts and contradictions within the world.
J 曾經板著面問我，有沒有曾經想過為何我的作品環繞疾病，包括《局部失明》，或者《口吃》。我說沒有，理論上疾病確實看似一種煩擾的缺失，但同樣是一種狀態，正如自身一度躺在床上個多月，每天醒來都看得見太陽又將一層薄紗蓋在身上的無力感，日復日的模糊，現在偶然背骨還是會提醒自己這段日子。就如年多後利用作品殺時間的我，或與患有嚴重口吃的同事相處，為此我並沒有任何一刻對這些情景感到不耐煩。作家宋惠慈(Wai Chee Dimock)曾指出福克納(Faulkner)作品《喧嘩與騷動》(Sound and Fury)筆下中的Benjy 儘管廣泛定義為一種白痴(idiocy)或智能障礙(mental retardation)，但這角色的設定並非一種缺失(deficiency)的呈現，按福克納所指，孩童的純潔存在著某種以自我為中心(self-centeredness)與白痴，但亦正因著其身份可以要求社會的憐憫與愛護，敘事以Benjy 一種近乎極端盲目的純真(innocence)放大對親妹妹Caddy的貞潔身份定型，伸延以該角度揭示與世界所產生的種種衝突與矛盾。
"Without time difference, I am nothing." I kept thinking of this sentence during the month I spent in Germany this past summer. I almost failed to remember that the starting point of Too Long Ago, Not Far was when I saw a man tapping on every object around him while I was waiting for the bus. He was tapping the bricks with his umbrella and slapping the station sign with his hands. He even ran up to a departing bus to smack it in the air. That is his way of establishing a connection with the surroundings, just walking and tapping directly, even if it seems dangerous to others. My way of establishing my relationship is by constantly elongating things encountered as images; and I have heard that by connecting different memory points, we establish new meanings and thus strengthening our memories. During a roundtable discussion, Timo expressed his doubts for the use of methaphors, and how to balance the different pulls of the work, or whether it is necessary, especially in an international art platform, to express the full contexts of a work in the artist's statement. I have spent much time “loitering” through his works, but not a single time have I wanted to exhaust the background of his making like working out a puzzle book, no matter how much I like his works. Leckey said that he likes some creations that make him stupid. There is much in what he said: for various reasons, what seems stupid or vague often reveals something.
“What I hope for from it, in effect is nothing other than the record of a threefold experience of ageing: of the places themselves, of my memories, and of my writing.”
– from Georges Perec's Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, p. 56, “The Street” | 喬治．培瑞克 (Georges Perec)，《空間物種》，頁90。
“A French prisoner of war succeeded in escaping in the middle of the night from the train that was taking him to Germany. The night was pitch black. The prisoner was wholly ignorant of his whereabouts. He walked for a long time at random, i.e. straight ahead. At a certain moment he came to the banks of a river. Therewas the moan of a siren. A few seconds later, the waves raised by the passing boat came and broke on the bank. From the time separating the moan of the siren from the splashing of the waves, the escapee deduced the width of the river. Knowing how wide it was, he identified it (it was the Rhine) and having identified it, knew where he was."
– from Georges Perec's Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, p. 88, “The Conquest of Space, 5 - the escaped prisoner” | 喬治．培瑞克 (Georges Perec)，《空間物種》，頁141。
– Tim Cresswell's Place: an Introduction | Tim Cresswell (著) 王志弘, 徐苔玲 (譯)，《地方》，頁60。
Tim Cresswell (著) 王志弘, 徐苔玲 (譯)，《地方》，頁164。
“Naming is power — the creative power to call something into being, to render the invisible visible, to impart a certain character to things.”
– from Tuan Yi-Fu's Language and the Making of Place: A Narrative-Descriptive Approach, p688.
“How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.”
– Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, back cover.
“It’s all good to work around with different image making methods: not a lot of people realize the joy in me of playing this editing game. Sticking with one way or another also helps me to appreciate more and observe more while working.”