Monday, 6 May 2013

睇唔明 I don't get it!



[Scroll down for English]

同細佬去睇<新世紀福音戰士新劇場版:Q>,縱然被改2號機座上的獨眼明日香歇斯底里的戰鬥感動得差一點就要哭,還是被庵野秀明要一而再再而三的去顛覆自己的經典和那充滿象徵意義符號的畫面搞到一頭霧水。睇完之後同細佬討論咗好耐庵野秀明究竟喺今集想講乜嘢,講咗好耐都無咩結果,最後都係返屋企上網,睇下唔同嘅討論區,唔同嘅人有咩睇法。雖然最後決定都係要多看一、兩次才可有結果,但思考過程總叫人興奮。


好耐都冇時間去戲院睇戲。去到戲院見到睇<Q>嘅就得小貓三幾隻(只係我去嗰間戲院,發行商唔好唔上最終章!),隔離排隊睇Iron Man 3排晒長龍,Iron Man 3梗係多人睇啦 -- 大明星,多特技,娛樂性豐富,最重要嘅係,一定唔會睇唔明。但係自己就走去睇一套明知睇完之後都唔知做乜嘅戲,我係唔係自己同自己過唔去?

香港人都患有「睇唔明恐懼症」。<金枝慾孽 2>收視低賴睇唔明,西九的「屎」不是藝術因為睇唔明,不喜歡閱讀英文書籍因為睇唔明。

其實「睇唔睇得明」是不是這麼重要?又怎樣才算得上睇得明?

•••

過去的一星期,香港終於有點像樣的公共藝術品排住隊出現。相對於區議會要呃公帑嗰啲核突公仔,這批由世界知名藝術家創作的充氣雕塑確確實實為沉悶及充滿不安的香港帶來一點活力。無論是公共機構或私人商業贊助的展覽,這類具啟發性的大型作品都叫人興奮。

這回吹脹雕塑大戰由西九M+ 博物館的Mobile M+: Inflation!展開序幕。六件作品由本地及國際藝術家創作的巨型作品各有各自的故事。雖然藝術家各自有自己的故事或message想表述,不過M+ executive director Lars Nittve 於媒體導賞時說的一番話又別有意思,他說:「藝術本身的意義來自你對它的詮釋,你從它身上看到甚麼,就是甚麼。」

大部份香港人一定很不習慣這一套。要香港人自己詮釋自己看到的藝術品的意義,跟叫他們不要炒樓炒股票沒有兩樣,差不多是mission impossible,因為香港人有興趣的並非尋找意義的過程,而是一個model answer。

香港人一出生就註定要奉行目標為本的宗旨做人,返學的真正目的是要考試得到高分數,老師講考試範圍以外的知識都視作浪費時間,給我past paper 同model answer 就好了;學彈鋼琴是為了考試考到八級,以便日後可以教鋼琴賺多個錢,跟養成對音樂的興趣無關,我不會也不用問題,我只要達到目的。討論百日維新的歷史意義?倒不如計算一條一定會有標準答案的方程式。

這樣的成長背景,突然你要他們思考和問問題,是何其困難!如果我的答案不是model answer 的答案,怎辦?我只要答案,我不要思考,請你快快告訴我!

西九M+就是不告訴他們Paul McCarthy的Complex Pile是甚麼意思。不要緊,明與唔明之間總有一兩個聲大大的人會說那是屎,然後開始有人談論著屎的意義,指責那是核突的東西而不是藝術,很快那被大部份人認同的comment就成了model answer。最後屎都爆開,太好了!玩完!思考討論到此為止。


那邊廂鴨子就簡單得多了:靚,可愛,在維港中浮下浮下,一看就明白,不須討論,沒有爭議,model answer就在眼前,是十分「安全」的選擇,香港人都喜歡 play safe,跟讀書都要選擇讀 business/ finance 一樣。

•••

「睇唔明恐懼症」在香港可能是不治之症,但其實睇唔明的東西才是好東西,因為它會令你思考,也是當權者最害怕的事。




Finally I got to go see Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo at the cinema with my brother. This long awaited third of four installments -- also known as Q -- of Hideaki Anno's reinvention of his classic TV anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great challenge, even for loyal fans who grew up with original series in the 1990s. The return of the now one-eyed Asuka, still hysterical, battling in her new EVA Unit-02 almost moved me to tears (I don't know why my heart aches watching these giant robots fight, watch a clip from the original TV series below). But the way Anno subverts his own classic over and over again with all these symbolic images and anecdotes was seriously confusing. I had a long discussion with my brother afterwards, and we even Googled for people's opinions on their interpretation of this installment. We couldn't reach a conclusion in the end, but still, the journey of search for an answer was fun and exciting.


It's been a long time since I made it to the cinema. There were few people in the auditorium for Q, a stark contrast with the never ending long queues for Iron Man 3 (It's just the cinema I went to. Hong Kong distributor please bring us the final installment). It's not hard to understand why more people are lining up for Iron Man 3 - an ensemble cast, special effects, entertaining, and most important of all, no one would have trouble understanding it. Am I punishing myself by going to watch a film that I knew I wouldn't get it?

Hong Kong people suffer from this "I don't get it-phobia". TVB's symbolic period drama Beauty at War achieves a low rating because people "don't get it". The pile of "shit" featured in West Kowloon Cultural District's Mobile M+: Inflation! exhibition is not art because people "don't get it". People don't like reading English texts because they "don't get it".

Is it really that important to "get it"? And what does it mean by getting it?

•••


Over the past week, public art has taken the centre stage as exhibition of various inflatable sculptures are on show in the city. Compared to those tasteless objects mounted by the District Council that have cost taxpayers multi-million dollars, it is a delight to see something decent and yet challenging.

The battle of inflatable sculptures began with Mobile M+: Inflation!, presented by M+, the contemporary visual culture museum opening at the West Kowloon arts hub in 2017. Six works by local and overseas artists all carry different messages. The museum's executive director Lars Nittve said during the press preview that the meaning of art works is derived from viewer's interpretation. You decide what it means to you.

Unfortunately this is against the nature of Hong Kong people. Asking Hongkongers to decide what an art work means to them is no difference from asking them to stop speculating in the stock market or property market. It's almost a mission impossible. Most Hongkongers don't like the journey to search for an answer. Cut the chase, they WANT a model answer.

From the day of being born, Hongkongers are destined to be goal-oriented. The genuine goal to go to school is to achieve high scores. Teachers teaching stuff outside of the examination syllabus is deemed as a waste of time. Just give me the past papers and model answer, they would say. Learning how to play the piano has nothing to with enjoying music. They just want to achieve grade 8 so that they can make extra cash out of teaching other kids. They don't know, and there's no need, to ask questions. Achieving the goal is what matters the most. Let's discuss the historical meaning of the Hundred Day Reform during the late Qing period? Forget it. They would work on a mathematical formula because there will always be a model answer.

Growing up in such an environment, how is it possible to ask Hongkongers to suddenly think and ask questions? What if my answer is far fetched from the model answer? I don't want to think. I don't want to be wrong. I just need the answer. Tell me the answer NOW!

M+ is not telling you what Paul McCarthy's inflatable sculpture Complex Pile means. That doesn't matter. Because between getting it and not getting it, some "opinion leaders" will come out and state their opinion, calling it a pile of shit, not art. Then these comments are gradually adopted by many as model answer. Then one day, the pile burst. Game over! There's no need to think any more.


The other side of the battle is the adorable Rubber Duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. It's pretty, it's cute, floating in the Victoria Harbour. No one won't get it. There no need to argue, no controversies. The model answer is just right there. It's a very safe choice, and Hongkongers like to play safe, just like they would choose to study business or finance over literature or other humanities subjects.

This "I don't get it-phobia" is an incurable disease in Hong Kong. But little do many know, that things that you don't get are in fact great stuff, because they will force you to think, which is what the authorities fear the most.






3 comments:

  1. Vivienne...there may be another way of seeing this.This genre known as "contemporary art" is arguably an almost entirely Western cultural product...its origin in French cultural theory... and the French and English, and Dutch for that matter were past colonial masters of much of the Asia. Could the local resistance to the latest products of western culture be viewed as just resistance to "telling the natives whats good for them?"

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  2. Hi Ross thanks for your comment. That's an interesting point. But as a matter of fact at last night's Blur Hong Kong gig, people were crazy and some locals were spotted waving the Union Jack flag through out the show. Too bad I didn't take any pics but judging from what I saw, it was more like feeling nostalgia of the good old colonial times (Blur is a perfect example of Britishness) than resistance.
    This kind of "I don't get it" attitude applies to not just contemporary art but also other things, like I mentioned in the blog post. In today's Apple Daily, its entertainment front page reported TVB achieved its lowest prime time TV rating because people "don't get" costume drama Beauty at War, blaming it for being "too difficult to understand". So I think it's more than just anti-western or anti-contemporary art.

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