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.

The Big Lebowski

I watched The Big Labowski as part of the Shimmerlands outdoor cinema at University of Melbourne, with the expectation that this would be a black and white Russian film.

After the movie I learned the following:

-The White Russian/ (as called”Caucasian” in the film) looks like a fun and easy-to-make drink.
-The way Julianne Moore makes her appearance is brilliant (painting while flying down from the ceiling)
-Walter Sobchak seems always angry.
-This Kaoru Betto shirt worn by the Dude added some more fun sparks when I am lost in the dialogues.

Overall I found it a free-spirited movie with loose plots, a playful attitude, many great music pieces and memorable scenes, both aesthetically and characteristically.

My favorite scene:

To me these scenes actually have some resemblance to a Lady Gaga music video or American Horror Story trailers, however it should be noted that this was all made pre-1998 when the computer-based CG animation technology probably only just started in film production.While in the film, these expressions just come out smoothly and all details are well-embedded as part of the dreamworld. Perhaps that’s one of the reason why it’s such a classic film that is still worshipped by people nowadays.

Lunar Chinese New Year 2017

First day of Year of Rooster in Melbourne, a summery day spent with blue sky, sunscreen and ice teas. To join the celebration, I went to Crown by the side of Yarra River, an alternative Asian Chinese gathering precinct in the CBD other than laneways of Chinatown.

On the big screen outside of Crown, Serena Williams won Australian Open Women’s Single over her sister Venus Williams — A happy day for the Williams sisters, so does it seem for most of the Asian-looking people who spent endless time and money at the Casino tables inside Crown on that day, or at least at face value.

I got corrected at work a few days ago, for calling the New Year “Chinese New Year” rather than “Lunar New Year”, because apparently for Asian Chinese who do not come from China but also celebrate the New Year, they would prefer to use the word “Lunar”… It’s interesting to think about the connotation behind that — to downplay the “Chineseness” side of New Year.

The hustle and bustle of people at Crown’s riverside night market has a good resemblance of the New Year shopping crowd in China. Other celebration features include lion-dancing, fireworks, and display of the Zodiac Lanterns, which all attract a great deal of crowds and cameras.

Lunar Chinese New Year in Melbourne, a quick dose of Chinese culture accompanied by  the colour of red, sound of drum from lion-dancing, and an influx of foreign wealth, largely fulfills people’s curiosity towards this traditional festival and brings deeper understanding or misunderstanding of the culture.

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First dinner for Year of Rooster, at a Thai restaurant, due to not being able to get a booking at preferred Chinese restaurant.

 

Unreachable love from past past past life

Your Name [君の名は] has now generated over $1 Million at the Australian box office according to Madman Entertainment.

I am not a big Japanese anime fan, and sometimes would prefer to keep a distance from watching them, mostly because I see animation as something that happens in a world parallel to the reality.

To me I’m not really sure which one I like better — The theme song  “Zen Zen Zense” or the film itself. The film is a love story involving the switching of destiny and identity between a boy and a girl who met in the alternation of space and time. Complicated as it may sound, everything becomes crystal clear once “Zen Zen Zense” starts to play, as it nicely fills the gaps of the bitter sweetness of unreachable love depicted in the film.

The lyric line of Zen Zen Zense [前前前世] – even though it is just a simple phrase describing “past past past lives (many many many lives before… )”,the perfect rhythm gives the line an extra layer of power and firmness that echos in my mind. The dreamworld in the film has been brought even closer to me by this song, to an extend that it crossovers with the reality and sparks endless emotions and pictures about love, destiny and the boundaries that make them even more cherishable.

Zen Zen Zense in a nice female voice: