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  • Ran Ma

Anachronic Chronicles: Voyages Inside/Out Asia


While it is true that “The history of man is also the journey of the viewer” (Chiara Bertola), ‘Anachronic Chronicles’ through reassembling visual documents, mostly of analogue format such as found footage (and slides), home movies, and photographs collected from ordinary people, seeks to reframe and zoom in onto the hidden episodes and ignored histories of both human and the non-human within and beyond Asia in the post-WWII era. In doing so, it also aims to reposition the amateur (sometimes anonymous) photographers and filmmakers and their works in dynamic dialogue with the viewers to the exhibition, and to search for different possibilities to reflect and remember.

Hence the ‘anachronic(al)’ should not be simply misunderstood as an erroneous lensing in mixing up the dates or outmoded action that is out of the context as seen from the perspective of the present. Instead, it should be understood here as an analytical perspective and artistic intervention that is intended to disturb the homogeneous time and resist the teleology of progress underlining any grand narrative and history writing.

Another connotation of the ‘anachronical’ relates to the nature of working through/with time regarding how the participating artists rediscover and rearrange their visual documents and archives from the past. The sense of everyday-ness and serendipity of their discoveries is made even stronger when the projects are juxtaposed together as intersecting texts. In so doing, this project dialogues with the complicacy of the intersecting histories and geopolitics across Asia and Asia-pacific in the postwar era toward globalization.

I’m calling you.

Rebirth (reverse) of humans and elephants.

This project interweaves both visual and textual journeys of persons, living creatures and objects across Asia and Asia-Pacific. MATSUMOTO Atsushi (Japan) has been for a long time working on found footages and alternative archives from various places across Japan. ‘I’m Calling You: Rebirth (reverse) of humans and elephants’ focuses on the longest-living elephant in Japan (and assumedly one of the loneliest), Hanako (1947-2016). His project not only collects photographical records from ordinary Japanese zoo-visitors (together with their families, friends and colleagues) as they posed in front of Hanako for the past sixty-nine years. Also, the dates of these donated photos, together with the zookeepers’ journals in relating to the amateur photographers’ personal recollections and sense of loss, also channel in-between their layered collective memories as Japanese society has been drastically transforming and changing throughout the decades. In rearranging the photos and routes of visitors interacting with the photos, Matsumoto envisions not only the possibilities of ‘rebirth’ for the elephant, but also in seeking to ‘reverse’ the photographers’ lost time. Whereas Hanako’s long-term solitude in enclosure has been recorded to render living evidence to ordinary citizens who visited her, this exhibition also seeks to reposition Hanako within the historical memories between Thailand, Japan, Taiwan (e.g., with Taiwan’s oldest, legendary elephant Lin Wang), and other parts of Asia.


The project by Hong Kong-based artist LAU Wai, which leverages the view point of one of her family members to thread together the travelogue footages shot by her grandparents around the mid 1960s, could be considered a response of some sort to the stand-alone imaginary of ‘Hanako’ the elephant from Japan. Originally from mainland China, Lau’s grandparents relocated to Hong Kong and used their 8mm camera to document their trips home and overseas at a time when the People’s Republic of China was experiencing tumultuous years of political radicalism. These home videos, sometimes interwoven with a glimpse into the grandparents’ business trips overseas, have nevertheless proffered a precious opportunity for us to grasp the technovisuality of diasporic Sinophone subjects at a time when it is rare for people from the mainland, Hong Kong or Taiwan to get hold of a movie camera and turn it to their own private, daily life and itinerant experiences. The ‘banality’ underlying these home videos has then become something highly inspiring in shedding light on the genealogy of amateur moving image and filmmaking across Sinophone communities within and beyond Asia.

Found: Secrets of Time

In a long abandoned Japanese style house in central Taipei, some hundreds of slide films were found lying scattered on the floor. Like so many other ‘found’ visual materials, they appear ‘unknown’ and ‘unloved’. Roughly confirmed as photographs taken in the 1950s, the slides seemingly piece together a group of young people’s journey around the States, together with their families, while it is remains uncertain whether they owned the house and lived here. Among those images, one can not only discover typical motifs of travel photography such as postured human portrait and landscape, but also many moments that seem to have been results of improvisations and non-preparations---some were captured in a grand carnival, some were in market, park, museum and their places for stay. These unauthored images may not be able to offer us much information about Taiwanese history of photography or even social reality. However, when the films (most of which are surprisingly in sound condition) are realigned and arranged in a different setting, we see better how homeland and foreign country intersect, wherein the eyes meet, and moments of longlines haunts the spectacle of light and color…the layers of time in the past few decades unfold, and reveals the fact that what has been found are the secrets of time.

Authors unknown. Around 1954-1960.


如若“人類的歷史也是觀客的歷史”( Chiara Bertola),“倒錯的編年”則希望通過利用從普通人、業餘影像作者那裏收集、發現的諸如“拾得影像”(found footages,包括幻燈片)、家庭錄影與照片等各類前數位影像檔案來重新聚焦二戰後的亞洲這一語境,並关注其中那些被忽略的或不為人所知的微觀歷史與跨地域關聯。通過此舉,本單元也試圖在業餘(有時甚至是匿名)的影像製作者和展覽的觀客之間建立更具活力的聯係,從而打開更多有關思考與回憶的可能。



長期以來,松本篤(AHA!,日本)的藝術項目輾轉日本各地,其收藏與整理工作都和拾得資料與另類檔案的創立緊密關聯。“有花子的风景”的主角名為“花子”(Hanako),據說她是日本國內最高齡、存活最久(也許也是最孤獨的)的一頭大象(1947-2016)。松本的項目是從廣大的日本民眾中間徵集攝影作品,並將各個世代、背景的人們與花子在世69年間的合影甄選、編輯而成的。與動物園飼養員的日記一道,這些圖片所記錄的業已流逝的時間在某種程度上構成了這些普通動物園遊客的“共同”記憶。而藝術家則通過他的細心編排與路徑設置,不僅讓花子 “復生”(rebirth),同時也讓這些攝影者/觀者得以回溯(reverse)往昔時光。然而本項目不僅意在展現普通(日本)遊客的日常經歷,也希望通過穿插其它來自亞洲的視覺影像資料與物件——例如和台灣民眾所十分熟悉的傳奇亞洲象“林旺爺爺”(1917-2003)有關的圖像資料——將“花子”重新放置到區域性的歷史記憶中來進行思考。


香港藝術家劉衛的作品中一向不乏有關家族影像與家族史的思考。本次參展作品的影像資料來自於60年代劉衛的家族成員在香港、日本各地等所拍攝的家庭影片——它似乎可以被看作是對日本的大象花子(以及台灣的林旺)過於隔絕的意象的一種回應。在中國大陸經歷政治動盪的60年代,劉的部分家人得以移居香港,並因工作關系有機會巡遊海外;其祖父當時則成為“手持攝像機的人”,以8mm 影片記錄了家人的旅行與日常。這些看似過於尋常的家庭影像,為我們探尋華語語繫文化表述與基於現代技術的可視性(technovisuality)之間的交匯提供了珍貴的視點。而通過這一項目,我們也得以重新對華語社羣業餘影像的發展系譜做出思考和整理。



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