ting bu dong
(I hear you but I don’t understand)
sounds and visions from China
by Laura Fong.
This piece of video art is basically a collection of digital images and sounds that can be heard and seen every day in China today. The images were all shot from a window, glass, or an elevator. They reflect my emotions at present here in China, where there is always a barrier between me and the environment. I see but I do not belong. I am always on one side of the glass and can neither cross it nor break it. I’ll always be a spectator in this country. A passenger of life. The chaos in the great city in a great country. Moving around constantly from point A to point B.
The superimpositions and speed changes in the images reflect a little of my psyche and the surreal way I see things around me. The dirty and repetitive editing is another element that supports this concept. (As a professional video editor, I believe in the aesthetic of "anti-editing" or incoherent editing to reflect certain mental states). In China there is too much information everywhere, but nothing (and everything) makes much sense to me. I dwell in a habitat that is not mine and it all seems a bit odd and thus surreal.
The design of the soundtrack is equally or even more significant than the images themselves. The meaning of the sentences in Chinese is not as important as the concept of sound, which is very different from Western concept of noise in public environments. I wanted to give special emphasis on the constant repetition in the use of loudspeakers in the high tones, in the accumulation of different sounds from different sources, all together at the same time. As I said before there is too much information coming from everywhere: vehicular traffic, people, people, people, people, people, construction sites, children crying, the music of the speaker coming from the little shop on the sidewalk, people passing by with motorcycles on that same sidewalk, the girl with the microphone selling stuff. China is in itself a very loud country and the idea was to use the sounds we constantly hear in the shops, listening on the phone in the street, subway, bus, at home with the construction of the neighbor who wakes me up at 7 in the morning ... !!!.. etc ... these are situations that
never existed at this magnitude in any place I have lived previously and I wanted to reflect that on the design of the sound that goes asynchronously with the image (meaning that it has little relationship to the image, but when fused it creates a completely new, third idea).
Maybe people that do not live in China or have not set foot on Chinese soil will not understand the concept of the piece very well, but for
me it also acts as a document and a means of expression of my "sounds and visions" in this country.
The locations are Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, and roads in the province of Gansu in the direction of Tianshui, Lanzhou and Xiahe. The piece is designed to be shown in a loop on a monitor with headphones. A big difference will be noticed if it is viewed with sound or without.
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