Kwan Ng re-purposes 18 years’ goal-driven multimedia experience design expertise for artistic exploration of visual dramaticity… In his [G]Local Empathy System, visitors “write” the potential stories of affective postures by walking through a routed journey.
01.09.2018 – 20.09.2018 | 11am – 7pm daily | Sheung Wan Civic Centre 上環文娛中心
Science fiction turned reality…
Big seductive smiles, streamlined bodies, hybrid creatures, flickering display screens of all sizes staring at us like celestial bodies, the lure of consumption, 360-degree surveillance, ceaseless flow of intimate exchange… Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner back in 1982 is surely not an exaggeration to the contemporary persons.
The ubiquitous presence of moving images in our daily surroundings is nothing new to us. As small as the digital display on a wrist watch or as big as the LED walls on the façades of a building, images cum media contents scream at us in every corner of our public space, and that includes buses, taxis, MTR trains, lifts and escalators… Surfing and browsing on our laptops or mobile phones is a seamless activity: messages in and out, movies streamed by Netflix, a favorite news program and more, all alternating or simultaneous on a single device unit.
What we see is how we see: screen mediation, tool innovation
Not long ago, screen size options were limited to 4:3 or 21:9 aspect ratio, that is, the TV we watch at home or movies in the cinema. Display formats and viewing situations were more or less predictable – on a couch by the TV was routine, and alternatively in a comfortable seat in a pitch-dark cinema with a silver screen. In those days, the media content, film or video, when produced, paid little attention to the final viewing situations, which were rather stable anywhere.
In recent years, we have seen filmmakers using a mobile phone to shoot videos for audience who watch movies on their mobiles. I consider this reasonably taking into account the actual reception condition of media contents – the display medium matters. A much smaller screen implies the viewer may watch it when waiting for a bus or even walking on a street. Shooting tools also change accordingly. Alongside these changes, we find frequenter use of tight framing, enhanced contrast in composition, fast rhythm and shorter shots and so on – as if only by doing so would one be able to keep the attention of the constantly distracted viewers. New aesthetics arises, or customizes for interruptible and mobile viewing experience. This, perhaps, is only a small part of our situation.
The display medium plus the technology involved not only changes the way of storytelling, but it should also bring about different emotional resonances. In this show, I play with the many elements involved in the single act of media content reception by separating them to see what new experiences may arise. These elements include the audience’s act and process of viewing, and the display medium in terms of physical size, aspect ratio, distance between audience and display medium, and the dynamic variation of such a distance.
Dynamic emotions, a rollercoaster ride…
Visitors will “journey” through a passage of dramatic fragments. What we normally called “editing” is irrelevant. In my work, shots used are “found” from multiple existing films rather than shot. The temporal ordering of shots, though preserving the linearity of a passage, highlights in fact the holding up of finer units of a shot on specific surfaces. How does such a design affect the visitors’ sensory experience? How does it change their perception of the individual images, which are supposed to be familiar material drawn from popular cinema? How does the mobile viewing journey enacted by my customized display machine synchronize with our senses? Will such synthesis surprise us beyond the sum of its parts?
In a 7-stop journey, visitors experience the ebb and flow of emotions, extracted from scenes of popular Cantonese cinema in the 1960s, as they impress visitors through contrastive display devices, from 5” LCD screens to 10m x 3m wall projection. The seven stops are: (1) Intimacy & Suspense, (2) Holo Shot, (3) Repulsion & Expectancy, (4) Sequential & Repetitive, (5) Double-crossing, (6) Portraits, and (7) Ending that Never Ends.
Re-purposing: from goal-driven communication to free discovery
For 18 years, Ng has been designing multimedia display for the commercial sector, whereby controlling audience and display relation is his routine. In this exhibition, he turns his skills and experiences to the context of artistic exploration via unusual storytelling. When freed from commercial objectives, how would he transform “experience design” into a critical enquiry? Would the visitors be able to own the experience for themselves? Would they be able to invent new meanings out of ordinary melodramatic textures?
巨型的誘人微笑、流線型身驅、繁多的物種，雄踞屏躍動著，以天外的姿態凝視著我們，是消費的誘惑，是三百六十度的監視，遙遠，亦是此起彼落的零距離交流……。對於當代人類而言，1982年電影 《2020》(Blade Runner) 裡的世界已不是遙不可及的誇想。
不久的以前，熒幕的比例限制於4:3 或 21:9，要不是家中看的電視，就是戲院裡的電影。展示形式和觀看的環境均是不出預期中的：若不是尋常家裡電視前的沙發，就是漆黑戲院裡銀幕前的軟墊椅。那個年代，製作電影及影像，基於媒介的制式，創作者鮮有考慮最後的觀看模式。
近年，不少電影工作者開始使用手機拍攝影片去切合手機另一端的觀眾的操作環境。這個考慮觀看場景及媒介的創作舉動，與顯示媒介 (display media) 有關。小巧的熒幕背後暗示觀眾可能正等待巴士，或是行走在路上。拍攝的工具改良同時，拍攝手法亦隨之而變，近鏡的運用愈見頻繁，構圖內的對比愈見鮮明，節奏明快，鏡頭要短— 一切的手段希望延續分心觀眾的專注目光。新的美學崛起，或是為受扞擾的流動觀賞經驗而服務，也許只是當代影像的一小部分。
七個站的旅程，觀眾會經歷情感上的潮脹潮退，六十年代的粤語通俗劇的碎片，將以不同顯示媒介盛載，小至5吋熒幕，大至3米投影，以不同的觀賞距離出現於人前。七個站是七個相關又看似獨立的展示基調，分別為：一、 親密與懸疑；二 、 浮影；三、 欲拒與還迎；四 、順序與重複；五、 影像交錯；六、 人像照；七 、請看下回分解。