Following the trace of love

It is a bit hard to define what type of work “Love at Fifth Site” is — a digital installation, a creative project, or simply a film (even though there is no record of this on IMDb). The installation is made of 5 film clips, and you get to “watch” them by standing in front of 5 different screens. However, instead of listening to the characters speaking to you, you actually follow the characters’ dialogues by pointing your own phone at the screen at each of the site, with the help of an APP.  At the same time you also get to experience the scenes by interacting with the props supplied onsite, which appeared to set in the same way as the ones in the film.

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At first I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I encountered that at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, but it turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable experience to follow the development of a love story. The lack of music is the only small disappointment to this experience, as the audio and sound element would make the whole story more engaging together with the visual and interactive elements.

It is fascinating to see how this creative use of digital device gives people a new way of “being in control”, which has been seen in many other creative artworks such as this one. It certainly allows the audience to explore the visual space more actively compared to the traditional cinematic experience. However there has already been contemplation on a  world where smart phone penetrates all parts of everyday life and even dominates people’s thinking and perception. An extreme but not unrealistic example has been demonstrated in Black Mirror-Episode “Nosedive”, where people constantly rate each other with their phones after every single encounter, and the whole social trust system is built upon that as a result.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have the choice available in the meanwhile, so that we can all be easily surprised and inspired with that little device in the pocket.

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Black Mirror-Episode “Nosedive”

 

Life and death under LED lights

I encountered two amazing LED-based art installations when travelling. Both artworks featuring twinkling LED lights in the darkness — one is set outdoor in the desert field of Uluru while the other one is indoor at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney.

  1. Field of Light-by Bruce Munro

Over 50,000 bulbs light up a massive block of land the size of a football field at the foot of Uluru. The colours and strength of light of the bulbs change automatically and gradually as the audience move around the field in the darkness, making the whole filed come to life in a quiet and calm way.

Being in the red centre of Australia is already a mind-blowing experience. The Field of Light exhibition is certainly a nice touch that adds another layer of fascination to the place.

“I saw in my mind a landscape of illuminated stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light,” he (Munro) said. “Field of Light is a personal symbol for the good things in life.”
(http://www.thenibbler.com.au/article/field-of-light-graces-uluru/)

2.Mega Death by Tasuo Miyajima – MCA Australia

Mega Death (1999) features about 3000 white LED counter gadgets on a three-walled billboard. The counters count down from nine to one, on to darkness without indicating “zero” then return to nine and repeat themselves. They are programmed to be completely switched off every few minutes, leaving the viewers in complete darkness, then go back to counting at various speed again.

The changing faces of numbers or digits appear in different forms in almost every piece of artwork in Miyajima’s exhibition- Connect with Everything, and this piece is the most impressive work in terms of its scale and design. Almost like some kind of ritual, the blue illuminated room and its numerous glittering LED counter gadgets is a very power visual expression that challenges the audience’s perception of time and changes.

“It is about the Holocaust, but it has parallels with global tragedies. It holds the meaning of many of the human-caused tragedies of the 20th century: the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, terrorist attacks … any mass death or destruction or killing where a life is taken before [its natural term].”
(http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/japanese-artist-tatsuo-miyajimas-digital-genius-on-show-at-sydney-mca/news-story/09b11f9888762c46102f08ee97d58186)

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The use of LED lights in the darkness opens a gate for me to be fully immersed in these installation space. It’s interesting to see that both artists have chosen the same medium to express their concepts and ideas yet shape them into something quite differently, as one celebrates the greatness of lives, the other contemplates the meaning of death. While it is also undeniable that the two themes are closely interlocked with each other at all time and are simply showing the 2 different sides of the same story.

To remember, to forget, to heal

It’s been a while since the last time I watched a stage show in a small theatre…and I forgot what an intimate experience this can be. What made me feel this way are two Japanese theatre productions at Arts House Melbourne as part of the AsiaTOPA festival.

Both productions deal with the topic of 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, reflecting on the disaster’s impact on people’s living with a close glimpse to their inner minds. The simple settings on stage open up a new dimension where my attention is exclusively dedicated to the stage and the performance happening there.It hence becomes quite intimate — like witnessing a tragic process that interweaves the past and the future, the deceased and the lived and is something that is very delicate, fragile and easy to be overlooked if not contemplated carefully.

The first production: Time’s Journey Through a Room is about a man’s dialogue with the spirit of his deceased wife and his new girl friend, revealing his desperation for hope while also a sense of frustration of being worn out by the sadness.

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Source: http://artsreview.com.au/times-journey-through-a-room/

The second production: Kagerou – Study of Translating Performance is a performance involving simultaneous interpretation of a woman’s voice talking about her husband who died in the earthquake. Performed by one person with headphones on, the production also uses a projection of moving images in the background as the person does the oral interpretation. Her shadow projected on the background creates a special presence of a person among the images of objects and sceneries.

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Each of the two shows has a unique way of depicting the character’s mental reaction to their loss at the natural disaster, by gently letting the character’s voice being heard with a series of subtle and distinct expressions. They captured moments after a person is finally settling in the fact about death of the loved one and is trying to get on with life. Somehow, making sense of the unforgettable is actually helping the lived ones to forget, to move on and in this case, to heal as part of a national tragedy.

More Than a Dreamer

It’s very hard not to associate La La Land with The Artist, not just because of the singing and dancing part, but more the vintage style and nostalgia feeling the two films both have, even though I have pretty much forgotten about the actual story of The Artist.

La La Land has won 6 awards out of its 14 Oscar nominations. So it wouldn’t be surprising if La La Land harvest similar amount of attention as The Artist, who won 5 Oscars.

In fact, the film has already connected with audience on different levels all over the world, such as:

Naomi Watanabe dances to the theme music of La La Land.

and “Lie Lie Land”graffiti.

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Back to the film, the main characters-  Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling made a lovely couple — A young actress trying to build her career in L.A and a musician who is constantly facing the dilemma between art and living.  The opening and the ending scenes are the highlights of the film to me.  Especially, the ending is a flashback of the what-ifs that could have happened in their lives — a made-up “happy ending” that completes audience’s imagination for that couple, just as we have all wondered about wot-ifs at some stage of our lives. Watching the whole process actually unfolds in details are something that is quite powerful and fascinating.

Overall it’s a film showcasing the distance between dreams and reality, and the romance that happens on the journey from dreams to reality, presented with great music and dancing performances.  Not so much a film for Valentine’s day maybe, but is a good  option for couples who are facing choices or singles who simply want to fall in love.

Game of Reality

Waving mobile phone in front of the artworks of “Prosthetic Reality” exhibition displayed at the No Vacancy project space of Federation Square is an amazing and entertaining experience thanks to the augmented reality work created by EyeJack .

The invasion of augmented reality to everyday life seems have taken up its speed ever since Pokemon Go. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that in the near future, where there is a real world there could also be a digital world parallel to it. The interaction of the physical space and digital creation will be taken onto more active, diverse, and precise forms. In conjunction with new technology, the new digital world play with our visions by blurring the boundaries between what is real and what is artificial, and challenging our perception of the so-called reality.

In “Prosthetic Reality”, what the digital “add-on” offers is more than a visual feast full of animated movements, sound effects, and unknown elements, it’s a new space filled with creativity and surprises, encouraging people to actively explore what is beyond the visual object itself. The scope of expression for artworks has been largely expanded by allowing interpretation on many different levels. It’d be interesting to see if one day such “augmented” effect can be applied to larger scale visual projections or multi-dimension objects like sculptures.