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[中][ENG] 全然地接受未知,在彈性與慣性之間,探索生命對等的可能──專訪台灣編舞者、新媒體藝術家蘇文琪 An interview with Su Wen-Chi

全然地接受未知,在彈性與慣性之間,探索生命對等的可能──專訪台灣編舞者、新媒體藝術家蘇文琪


文:張欣怡


《人類黑區》/攝:林敬原


2021年5月,全球疫情大爆發已一年多,相較於彼時疫情狀況未明以及確診人數高居不下的狀態,此時因為疫苗於各地開始接種,似乎也讓人類看見重返常態的曙光,各行各業無不引頸期待解禁那天的到來。以藝術生產為業的創作者,亦難逃這一波劇烈的衝擊,與全世界共感震撼:一場高度仰賴科技工具和數位載體,才得以突破室內空間及人數限制向外連結、虛實共存的沉浸式體驗。

作為自我生命實踐的職業創作者

談到數位科技與舞蹈身體整合純熟的創作,就不能不認識來自台灣的新媒體表演藝術家蘇文琪。十多年前初識文琪和一當代舞團YiLab.,當時她即「以結合新媒體與表演藝術的概念與形式著稱,嘗試從新媒體的思維裡,重新思索表演藝術的可能性,延伸當代藝術在面對數位科技的衝擊所帶來的提問與省思」,這段藝術家自述的文字,今日讀來格外有意思,彷彿提前揭示了未來創作型態的趨勢;此時,筆者與文琪相約網上見面,多虧視訊軟體的發明,具體縮短了兩人身處不同時區的物理距離,才得以身(聲)相會,從恍如隔世的疫情,展開了我們的對話。 「回看2020年,真的覺得很瘋狂!不曉得自己是如何撐過這麼多場的線上活動,到後來理解到身體是越來越抗拒接觸數位載體。疫情之於我造成最直接的影響,就是身體的疏離感,我渴望找回扎實的存在感受,一種踏實感。」因此,文琪在今年有意識地選擇有限度使用線上社群平台,投入更多時間和舞者進到排練場工作,重新感受身體的質地和脈動。


投身藝術領域初期,作為職業舞者,從台灣的光環舞集轉換到比利時Kobalt Works,文琪堅定地表示「心裡一直都明白自己是渴望創作,工作期間也會產生自我質疑,甚至感到求知若渴和自我成長的不滿足」,也因為大學時代主修法語,所以當決定出走,歐洲便自然成為她的目的地。這段期間她浸淫在多元文化的表演創作環境,踏實地生活著,享受著個人思想、身體和創作思維的獨立和自由。在移動進出的過程中,自身持續地吸納、學習有趣的事物,對於自己身處的環境、社會文化的氛圍的洞察力變得更加敏銳,亦有助提升問題意識的產生;而身體也直接地感受到最適宜的生存狀態為何,以及內心強烈的創作動機和渴求。爾後當她再踏上家鄉的土地,即創立了一當代舞團YiLab.。

感受身體到力行實踐,理解彼此到共同實驗


早在光環舞集就接受扎實的身體訓練,因此文琪自覺身體感受力非常敏銳,對於聲音也很敏感,不論創作、表演或者生活,經常傾聽身體主動發出的訊號(直覺);一直傾心於不同媒材的創作形式,同時著迷於聲音藝術,尤其對於科學和科技的發展如何影響人類、社會現象乃至於生活型態擁有高度的興趣,文琪持續地摸索和探究,也因而選擇了當時在台灣還是新興學科的新媒體藝術學系。

因著學習新媒體創作的思維和邏輯訓練,更強化了自我問題意識以及創作動機的產生,接著透過創作實踐去消化自身的提問,藝術創作的存在模式於焉成形。在舞蹈和新媒體交融創作之際,文琪也認為這兩種截然不同的藝術形式,又或者是聲音媒材都能帶來直觀的感受,給予創作者、觀眾再詮釋的空間,進而創造無限的想像。


憑藉著自身的敏銳度,文琪在創作之路專注聆聽自己身體的聲音。她長期觀察不同領域的創作者,感受他們在藝術形式乃至於美學表現上,清楚的做了選擇,包括其堅持的質地和信仰的價值。透過長時間的關注,她陸續邀請了不同文化和專業背景的藝術家們,一起展開探索未知的創作旅程。


《身體輿圖》/攝:Luc Vleminck


創作,為了呼應一個時代


從個人獨舞《迷幻英雌》、《Loop Me》、《ReMove Me》、《W.A.V.E──城市微幅》、《身體輿圖》等,進展到「彩虹三部曲研究計劃中的《從無止境回首》和《全然的愛與真實》,近年感受到全球暖化帶給人類災難的警示和迫切性,因而創作了《人類黑區》。在不同的創作階段,她邀請跨領域藝術家們合作,除了認可彼此所堅持的創作質地,過程中意識到個體個性和養成背景各異,時常提醒自己要尊重不同的(領域)文化特質,如何建立彼此文化之間的對等狀態一直是文琪進行跨文化合作時所追求的平衡。


一切之初,必須全然地接受每個獨立個體的樣貌。文琪提到《從無止境回首》的印尼日惹樂團Senyawa追求音樂創作形式的突破,也透過音樂去翻轉社會和政治樣態。樂團和印尼舞者們的能量和爆發力十足,習慣多做少說,直接從做當中去應證理論;相較於他們的狀態,文琪理解對方的慣性,深知自己的身體是安靜的,所以需要將自己的能量提升到跟對方同一個程度,才有力量去對話,並且協調出彼此對等的狀態。


在創作研究的過程中,文琪參訪了多個科學研究機構與科學家相遇。對於科學家永不放棄的實驗精神,她特別舉了線性加速器為例,甚至很有可能研究一輩子最終卻找不到答案的狀態,自己坦承受到很大的衝擊。面對科學研究人員這樣長時間摸索可能到不了的盡頭,相較於創作者對於作品的實驗到完成結束的設定(必須)是幾年的光陰,自己產生了新的自我提問,因為創作是因有問題意識產生了動機,嘗試透過創作去回應外界狀態,這個實驗過程好比科學研究,是需要時間醞釀的。


虛實之間,從「心」出發,回歸身體經驗


談到疫情之下,許多藝術活動被迫拋棄實體轉為線上播送,或是強調虛實共存的臨場感,文琪認為即便解封後,現場實體活動的存在,短期之內仍然會是主流,因為人們仍渴求身體感的真實存在。


受到衝擊的創作者面臨轉型、嘗試用數位科技平台進行創作表演,文琪強調創作結合科技或者新媒體的藝術形式並非追趕流行,更非追求裝飾性的表象,仍須回歸到自身身體經驗出發。尤其她認為創作應該是心中所想和身體力行需要一致。回想起她新媒體創作的起心動念,來自於意識到生存的危機,刺激到自我信仰,產生自覺的問題意識後,開始嘗試一連串的藝術實驗。


剛過立夏不久,她感受到今年幾乎是從零開始,重新看待人與人之間的距離和過往人際交往的認知,感覺生活的時間感重新回到身體的時間,有意識的關注無意識動作(反射性)的產生。對於未來,她仍繼續感受、醞釀著第三部曲,看待無常,更正向的擁抱未知。



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張欣怡

旅歐舞蹈暨馬戲製作人、2021衛武營馬戲平台策展人



 

Accepting the unknown in full, exploring how to balance life between flexibility and stability

— An interview with Taiwanese choreographer and new media artist Su Wen-Chi


Original text: Gwen Chang Hsin-Yi

Translator: Tiffany Wong


Infinity Minus One /Photo: Chen Yi-Tang


In May 2021, the worldwide pandemic has been going on for more than a year. After so long facing the uncertainty of the pandemic and the never-decreasing number of confirmed cases, it finally seems that, with the rise in vaccinations around the world, now at last there is a ray of hope of getting back to normality, every industry is looking forward to restrictions being relaxed. Creative artists were not immune from the dramatic impact of the pandemic, and suffered the same shock as the rest of the world. Only dependence on technology and digital tools could make it possible to break through indoor spaces and limited attendance to connect with others outside, in an immersive experience where the real and the virtual world co-exist.


A professional creative artist seeking to create her own life


Talking about works that skillfully integrate digital technology with dancing bodies brings me to Su Wen-Chi, a new media performing artist from Taiwan. I first encountered Su and her YiLab. dance group ten years ago. Her self-introduction “Combining the concepts and forms of new media and performing arts, she attempts to rethink the possibilities of performing arts from the perspective of new media, extending the controversy and reflection of contemporary art in the face of the impact of digital technology.”, means much more now, as if she foresaw the future trend creation would take. Today I have been able to meet Su online, thanks to video software which overcame the physical distance between two people in different time zones, and made our dialogue possible.


“Looking back at 2020, it was crazy! I don’t know how I made it through so many online activities, and eventually I realized my body was rejecting digital media more and more. The most direct impact on me from the pandemic was the physical alienation. I am eager to find a solid feeling of existence, a steadiness.” That was why, this year, Su made a conscious choice to limit her use of online community platforms, and spend more time working with dancers in the studio, to get back the feel of texture and pulsation in the body.


When she first entered the artistic arena as a professional dancer, moving from Taiwan’s Taipei Dance Circle to Belgium’s Kobalt Works, Su said to herself with certainty, “I know in my heart that I desire to create. I also have times of self-doubt, I feel the hunger for knowledge and am sometimes dissatisfied with my development”. Having majored in French at university made Europe a natural choice of destination when she left home. During this period, she was immersed in a multicultural performance-creation environment, living in a down to earth way, enjoying independence and freedom of personal thought, body and creative thinking. In the process of entering and exiting different positions, the body continues to absorb and to learn interesting things. The body becomes sensitive to the environment in which it finds itself, its awareness of the surrounding social cultures and atmosphere is heightened, which helps to raise awareness of problems. Su feels directly through her body what is the most suitable state of physical existence, as well as feeling a strong motivation and thirst for creativity through her heart. Later, when Su returned to her hometown, she founded the contemporary dance group YiLab.


From feeling the body to practising; understanding each other to experimenting together


Having received solid physical training at Taipei Dance Circle, Su feels that her body is very perceptive and sensitive to sound, and she always listens to her body's active signals (intuition), whether in creation, performance or life. She has always been interested in different forms of media creation, and fascinated by sound art, especially in how the development of science and technology affects human beings, social phenomena and even lifestyles. Su continued to explore and study, choosing the Department of New Media Art, which was still an emerging discipline in Taiwan at that time.


Her training in the thinking and logic of new media creation strengthened Su’s self-awareness, ability to question herself and motivation to create. This was followed by the digestion of her own questions through creative practice, and the mode of existence of artistic creation taking shape. When dance and new media are combined, Su believes that these two distinct art forms, or sound media, can produce intuitive feelings and give both creator and audience room for reinterpretation, thus creating infinite possibilities for imagination. Relying on her own acuity, Su focuses on listening to her body's voice in her creative journey. She has been observing creative artists from different fields for a long time and feels that they have made clear choices in their art forms and aesthetic expression, including their insistence on quality and the values they believe in. Based on her long-term observation, she has invited artists from different cultural and professional backgrounds to embark on a creative journey to explore the unknown together.


Off the Map/Photo: Luc Vleminck


Create, to reflect an era


Su’s work has progressed from solo pieces Heroïne, Loop Me, ReMove Me, W.A.V.E., Off the Map and others, to the publishing of Infinity Minus One and Unconditional Love and Factin her Rainbow Trilogy research project. In recent years, Su became aware of the warnings and urgency global warming has brought to humankind in the form of catastrophes, and created the work Anthropic Shadow. At different stages of creation, she has invited cross-disciplinary artists to collaborate with her. Apart from recognizing one another’s creative qualities, they are able to discover each other’s uniqueness and differences in background, reminding them to respect the different characteristics of other cultures. Achieving equality between different cultures is a balance Su always seeks in her cross-cultural collaborations.


The first prerequisite is to accept each individual’s own character without reserve. Su mentioned Infinity Minus One, where she worked with Senyawa, a band from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, who pursue breakthroughs in the format of musical creation, and use music to reverse social and political patterns. The band and Indonesian dancers have very powerful energy and are used to ‘working more and talking less’, jumping directly into activity to prove their theory. Compared to them, Su understood that her body is comparatively quiet, so she had to raise her energy to the same level as her collaborators in order to have the strength to conduct dialogue, and achieve equality.


During the creative research process, Su has visited scientists in several scientific research institutes. She talks about the spirit of scientists who never give up experimenting, and gives the linear accelerator as an example. She was stunned to discover that scientists may spend their whole lives seeking an answer they may never get before they die. Comparing the time spent by scientists and researchers on a potentially never-ending research project to creative performance art research, that usually spans just a few short years, made her ask a lot of questions of herself. Because creation is motivated by the awareness of problems and attempts to respond to external conditions through creativity, this experimental process is similar to scientific research, which requires time to develop.


Between the virtual and the real, she sets off from the ‘heart’ and returns to physical experience


We talked about how many artistic events had to be changed to online screening due to the pandemic, and the emphasis on integrating the virtual and the real, Su thinks that after restrictions are relaxed, live activities will still be mainstream, because people still yearn for real physical presence.


The impact of the environment has been forcing creative artists to make changes. Su emphasizes that attempts to make use of digital technology platforms for creative work and performances is not about chasing the trend, or seeking for ornamental styles of expression, and that it is essential to return to our own physical experience. In particular she thinks that creation must be consistent with what she wants and needs to do in her heart and mind. Looking back at her new media creations, she started a series of artistic experiments as a result of going through the crisis of survival, which stimulated her belief in herself and developed her consciousness of problems.


Now, as summer begins, she feels that this year is almost like starting from scratch, time to take a fresh look at the distance between people and relationships, feel the sensation of time returning to her body, and be aware of her unconscious actions. Looking to the future, she continues to feel and develop the third part of her trilogy, looking at impermanence and embracing the unknown in a more positive way.



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Gwen Chang Hsin-Yi

Europe travelling dance cum circus producer, 2021 Weiwuying Circus Platform Curator