Capturing the daily habit of the old folks in the Nam Shan Estate under the CCTV angle, the trace of the neighborhood activities, coordinate with the rhythm of door opening and closing reveals not only the commonness of the old public housing living, but also represent a strong sense of time and space. The rhythm of door can bring sense stimulation to audience, at the same time carry out the key element in the video.
“Doors” opens with an unchanging cross-section of a public housing estate building, the kind in which the doors to each unit all open in the same direction onto a large outdoor hall that also serves as a public balcony. The frame is fully occupied by seven floors, leaving a total of 42 doors (and apartment facades with a set number of windows) visible. At the outset, the scene is largely silent, with a lone figure washing a window. Slowly, other figures enter from the left or right sides, opening doors and entering apartments. All the while, the sounds of jangling keys, sliding Bostwick gates, and slamming doors are exaggerated with foley effects. Strangely, several figures enter from one side and exit directly from the other edge of the frame, not returning home at all. Beginning at this point, the viewer recognizes that this is a carefully choreographed and edited scene: doors start to open and reopen in rapid succession for sonic effect, occasionally opening in different directions and with different clicking sounds. As multiple doors begin to open and close in unison and in striking visual patterns, the audio balance drifts between left and right. The orchestra of doors then begins to vary in speed, adding in additional rhythmic elements. Then the light changes, and some figures walk across in slow motion; voices emerge, and more figures walk the screen in fast forward. The video ends with nightfall, as apartment lights also join the fray. Chilai Howard Cheng has digitally reconstructed an accidentally utopian view of communal life, a vision in which creative force triumphs over crowded living conditions.
Text by Robin Peckham.