时间:2013 年 12 月 21 日
【说明】本文是“EX!T4 台湾国际实验媒体艺术展”中一场学术对话的记录稿，该 场活动由牯岭街小剧场总监姚立群主持。原定的对话人是来自上海的实验动画艺 术家邱黯雄和来自台北的实验动画先驱、资深导演石昌杰，但因邱黯雄被暴风雪 困于美国纽约机场无法前往，而临时由策展人曹恺替补，与石昌杰进行了一场关 于中国实验动画的对谈。全文收入于吴俊辉编著的《台湾以左，亚洲之右:实验 电影的亚洲实践与研究》(恒河出版社，台北，2016 年)一书，本文为新修订的 精编版，现标题及章节标题由曹恺另撰。
石昌杰:大概两三年前，有幸被邀请到北京参加了“中国独立动画电影论坛”，个 人就很讶异中国在这几年突然涌现了一批创作力非常强盛的独立动画艺术家，尤 其有一位刘健导演，他去年来台北有得到金马创投的影片制作经费，在去年也邀 请了他的动画短片《混吨 & 秩序》，这部片在今天放过了。 另外一个惊讶是就历史的发展轨迹来看，台湾在动画电影艺术上面，起步得比较 晚，比上海美影厂晚。可是就实验动画的创作发展，因为在台湾民主制度的关系 之下，台湾应该是早几年。可是，在中国大陆因为文化底蕴的关系，这几年我所 看到的中国大陆的实验动画作品，都让我有这种精彩夺目，振聋发聩的感觉，觉 得台湾好像应该在这个领域要再加把劲的那种感慨。 邱黯雄导演虽然他今天没有办法来到现场，因为曹恺跟他非常的熟悉，我想今天 的引言大部分就让曹恺来讲。首先我就从作者这个人来谈，虽然现在有这个思潮 说:“作者已死”，可是毕竟艺术家作为一个创作的中心，某方面还是能带给我们 看到创作艺术家个人内心的世界、意识形态，偏好的美学的符号语言。
曹恺:正好在今年五月份的时候，我对邱黯雄做了一个访谈，在这之前我跟邱黯 雄认识很长时间，但是对他艺术创作的整体了解，其实还是从那次访谈开始的。 在那个访谈中，我询问了许多邱黯雄他自己的学习经历、创作经历等，今天，我 正好就把电脑里的这份访谈纪录稿拿来做为我今天介绍他的依据。 邱黯雄是是四川美院毕业的，毕业以后他之后不久就去了德国，在德国卡塞尔艺 术学院学习。我一开始以为他是直接去学习动画，其实他学的是一般的造形艺术， 但是他在卡塞尔学院学习的时候，经常到动画的工作室参观，然后就慢慢产生兴 趣，在那里听了一些动画的课程，无意当中就掌握了很多动画创作的方法。据他说， 在卡塞尔学习的过程当中，最大的一次的触动是看到南非艺术家威廉·肯特里奇 的动画创作。我记得差不多是在 2000 年左右的时候，我在上海双年展时看到了肯 特里奇一个用剪影方法制作的动画，当时我也觉得大开眼界。邱黯雄是在德国看 到，他一下就被肯特里奇式的动画给吸引住了，他开始想是不是也可以用这种方 法来尝试做一些创作。
石昌杰:肯特里奇的动画我在纽约看过，在访谈之前我就觉得邱黯雄这样的画风 或者说表现手法真的跟肯特里奇有种相仿。这种技术其实在台湾比较少为人所知， 除了在台南艺术大学有一些同学在做。当然邱黯雄这个跟肯特里奇的作品不太一 样的是比较属于水墨的表现方式，是纯粹属于国画，或者说中国绘画的这种表现 语言，肯特里奇用的是油画的一种技法在表现。当然，我们看到邱黯雄的作品里 面其实是结合这两种手法，当然在实验动画的手法里面，这种像水墨的做法，以
前的上海美影厂，是用多重曝光的方式，那其实是“拉毛”，剪纸动画延伸过去的。 可是在所谓现在当代很多数位化时代，很多是用电脑的工具来表现水墨的这种技 法。可是邱黯雄跟肯特里奇两位的做法，其实是用纯粹绘画型的。虽然邱黯雄没 有来，但我比较好奇这种做法，我看到它并不是那种一张一张的，有很多像这种 涂过去又抹过去，又留一点点。因为你在涂抹不管是油彩、油墨或是水墨，它会 有一种遗迹，渲染开来又不像渲染开来那种感觉，层层的这就看到这个影像保留 了前个影像，那种残留的笔触。当然有一种做法是放在玻璃片上面，有些真的是 单张单张所绘制的。因为他本人没有到现场，所以我满想知道说你有没有参观过 他的创作过程或工作室，如果有参观过的话能不能稍为揭露一点点他在创作这些 画面的技术表现手法?
曹恺:石昌杰先生的这个问题，其实当时我也有问过邱黯雄，他跟我做了非常详 细的介绍，我也可以跟大家分享一下。因为在我的这一篇访谈文章，在中国也已 经公开发表了，所以这个话题也不是什么秘密。邱黯雄是 2004 年从德国回到中国 的，当时正准备开始做动画创作，之前他也做了很多尝试，比如用摄影的方法来 拍摄一组一组的照片，然后做成定格动画，多次试验后，他最后还是决定使用手 绘的方式。 在这之前，我有一个问题问邱黯雄，就是刚刚石昌杰先生也讲到的——中国传统 水墨绘画对邱黯雄有没有影响?邱黯雄因为在国外待过一段时间，异地的经历使 他对自身本土文化更加关注，他也发现水墨动画是一个非常有美学价值的艺术表 达方法，但他当时的制作条件，使得他没有办法用上海美影厂那一套完整的制法， 而且美影厂系统好多关键制法据说还有一点保密，这就很难把这个方法运用在他 的创作中，这些情况迫使他寻找一些其他的试验解决办法。
石昌杰:讲到这个实验，其实我个人有一个感触:某方面来讲个人创作者其实有 时候多少是跟所谓的产业界的技术保持着一种距离，在台湾当然是因为有卡通加 工的传统，像我这辈的动画创作者，也因为没有办法即时或是顺利的进入到产业 界，所以自己没有得到所谓产业界的技术培训等。可是反而自我摸索出一点属于 自己的绘画创作语言或者动画创作语言，到最后来说是满难能可贵的。我相信在 中国同样的这个状况，刚刚听起来邱黯雄虽然他也看到这种水墨动画的珍贵性， 可是相反的其实如果他当初真的得到上海美影厂这个国家的赞助，他做出来的我 相信还是以前的那个样貌，就没有他现在这种东西融会的语言出现，我反而觉得 这是塞翁失马焉知非福。他有了他自己的一种动画语言跟视觉语言，我在听到刚 刚曹恺所讲的他的出生背景，加上第一场一点钟的那个场次，很多这样的创作者 都来自于美术院校，也因此他们跟所谓的动画科系的学生的思考脉络是不一样的， 他们不再只是服务为一个专业主义，也就是他不是只是想要做一个螺丝钉。因为 动画的分工是非常的细腻的，其实他们作为一个个人动画创作者的决心，我想是 非常旺盛的，也是这点让我觉得非常珍贵。
曹恺:邱黯雄一开始也在宣纸上做过一些实验，在宣纸上实验时他发现一个问 题——他当时买了一个很好的数码单反相机，他就想用定格方法画一点拍一 点——但一个问题是宣纸在水墨上去之后纸会皱，因为宣纸在没有裱之前是不平 整的，有墨和没有墨的地方，水多水少的地方，都不一样，一拍出来画面就不平整。 多次尝试后，他就采用了一个方法，就是在油画布上画、后来他是直接在金属板上面画，在金属板上面他就没有办法用中国画的颜料，后来他实际上是用丙烯颜 料画的，他用丙烯颜料加丙烯的稀释液和水，然后把它调和开来，笔还是用中国 传统的毛笔，在金属板上面一面画一面拍，逐格拍摄，他是用了一个这样的方法。 当然，在这里面的具体过程我想也很不容易，因为要掌握水分的控制，什么地方 该实什么地方该虚，晕染、笔触等。他也用了一些其实是西洋绘画的办法，如用 一些白粉和黑色丙烯颜料结合起来，调合成不同效果的灰色系，施以覆盖。因为 传统中国画颜料都是透明色，是没有办法覆盖的，所以，我以为邱黯雄的创作里 面既有中国画写意的感觉，其实隐约也有德国表现主义绘画的一种笔触。
石昌杰:太精彩了，我想应该说是独门招数了，如果把它当作一个武林的门派， 那的确是邱黯雄自创的一种招数，是挺令人敬佩的。因为我们刚刚谈到了上海美 术电影制片厂的这种方式，虽然是很多的技术没有传承下来，可是我记得在我学 生时代看过日本电视台采访上海美影厂，的确是有揭露这样的技术，当然不可能 揭露太多。基本上就像我刚刚在引言的时候所谈到的，他用到其实是剪纸动画， 然后用拉毛的技术配合像重复曝光这样的一个方式来制作的，精彩的美影制片厂 那种传统的水墨动画。 在台湾因为没有那样的一个片厂，其实在台湾有两位导演，像杲中孚跟史筱筠， 前后大概差了几年，他们都是用刚才所讲的用纸张来直接的绘画，就是把水墨画 在纸张上面，那史筱筠导演甚至用到宣纸，其实也创造出很不错的现代水墨动画， 谈的也不再是忠孝节义的那种题材。所以邱黯雄在我看起来在现代水墨动画甚至 是一个中西合并的绘画技巧，他独创了这种招数，当然所有的动画家或艺术家并 不希望被人家谈的只是一种技艺的发明而已，因为所有的艺术家都是有一定的想 要抒发自己的感情或者自己的想法，在他的动画电影中其实我看到了有如我这一 代在台湾的一些动画导演也好或者是一些创作导演也好，其实我们那个年代比较 喜欢创造一些大议题的东西。我们可以看到几乎除了《江南错》这个片子，比较 诗意、怀旧加了一点点电子音乐，它还是有一点新旧融合，可是大部分的议题都 在处理历史、整个环境，大时代，甚至把最远古的神话结合当代科技的这样的寓言。 我觉得他的内容是相当丰富、很值得探究的，所以在内容的阐述上不晓得是不是 曹恺在访谈的时候有问到类似的问题?
曹恺:我也跟邱黯雄谈过这个情况。我第一次看到邱黯雄的作品，是 2006 年上海 双年展，他当时是他的第二部动画作品——第一部就是《江南错》，然后第二部 就是《新山海经I》，我当时看了非常震撼，就是这种方法，国内之前从来没有 人用过。因为当时用动画的方法、尤其纯粹以手绘动画的方式在中国的双年展展 现，在他之前还没有。《新山海经I》是三屏幕展示的，结合成一个超长的幕墙， 作品表现了一个中国传统的古代传说，借以反映当今社会政治现实当中的很多问 题，用了很多借喻、隐喻的方法。那么这个问题我后来也问过邱黯雄，他当时为 什么会选择山海经这样的一个内容。邱黯雄的回答是，他在国外学习西方的文化 和艺术的过程当中，特别会产生一种孤独感，他对自身本土文化的探究就越发的 强烈，他当时在德国就已经产生了用山海经为题材做一个作品。
石昌杰:像《新山海经I》我看到的是他借用了中国文化的最古老的一种神话题 材，可是他谈的却是一种非常当代的政治，我们可以看到说自然文明跟科技文明 间的一个对峙，然后他把所有的当代科技工具不管是汽车、钻油的机器，战车等，
都跟所谓的动物结合，对我来讲其实是一种爆炸力创新的手法。可是他通通在这 个动画的世界是成立的，因为我们绝不会想像说一个机器人或是一个动物这两个 符码可以相互的结合在一起，我看到他相当强烈的创造能力让我个人非常钦佩。
曹恺:以我对邱黯雄平常的了解和交谈，邱黯雄不像一般艺术家是完全出世的、 超脱的、只谈艺术不谈其他的那种人，他是那种关心社会政治的有识之士。他在 自己的微博上面也经常对很多社会现实问题发表对自己的见解，他有自己非常强 烈的政治立场，他有他自己对社会关注的表达，他还是一个各方面非常强烈的人。
石昌杰:我发现他关注的议题也非常的广泛，我自己在看这些访谈录之后，稍微 介绍一下《新山海经I》。《新山海经II》又让我看到了他也对三峡作为一个历 史的巨大的事件带给环境的一种灾难，包括基因改造这样子的技术带给人类的灾 难等提出他很多的见解。所以如果说《新山海经I》讲到了一种政治、宗教、文 明之间的冲突，《新山海经II》把议题挂勾到基因改造、环境工程公共工程对环 境跟生命的破坏，所以我觉得他关注的议题是非常庞大的。至于我们后面看的这 两个影片，一部是《民国风景》、一部是《山河梦影》，这两部片就像刚才曹恺 所讲到他似乎对政治方面有非常深的观察。从民国经过中国共产党建国以来的这 些想法，一种历史的观照，不晓得他有没有特别谈 ? 不过对我来讲他是针对那么 细节议题的关注，他其实是站在一个更高的一个立场来看这整个历史的灰飞烟灭。 当然不晓得在访谈之中有没有讲到更政治方面的一个议题?甚至是禁忌的话题?
曹恺:我跟邱黯雄五月那次做的访谈，还是偏重于学术的一个访谈，但我们私下 有过更多的讨论和交流，包括我们平常在微博上的互动等。我和邱黯雄的许多观 点是比较接近的，包括对近现代历史的关注等。你若看见邱黯雄他的样子，你会 感到他有一种传统乡村知识分子的气息，甚至于我觉得那是一种已经正在消失的 士大夫的气质，这种气质在中国现在已经比较罕见了，但我觉得在邱黯雄身上被 保留下来了。那么，对于近现代历史，尤其是民国历史，我们私下也有自己的探讨。 邱黯雄对于山河变迁、一夜之间灰飞烟灭的历史突变，他是用一种特别视觉艺术 的手法去表达出来的。他的作品屏幕特别喜欢用一种超宽屏，我把他理解为中国 画山河长卷式的表达方法，也非常符合历史大河奔流的内在含意。当然，这样所 有的表达方法都是经过一些诗化的处理，邱黯雄的内质里有很多诗人的气质，他 也有这方面的倾向。艺术家要表达一个历史问题观点的时候，必须经过一个视觉 转化的方式，那么，我觉得邱黯雄就是找到了一个非常适合自己的视觉表达方法。
石昌杰:谢谢曹恺，虽然邱黯雄导演没办法到现场，也帮我们还原了他的气质、 内在的想法跟他创作的背景，也因为这次的节目是你个人策划的，我们刚刚在座 谈会之前也聊到听说你有找到一个更珍贵的资料。因为你也谈到在历史发展上， 之前中国大陆都比较是国家来主导影视的创作，动画被当作是一个幼教的重要项 目，所以其实上海美影制片厂担纲了一个重要的角色。自从中国整个走向市场化 之后，其实不仅是上海美影制片厂没落了，也相对有个契机就是个人动画创作者 掘起，很想了解一下在诺大的中国大陆上我相信也是人才济济，我们刚才聊到像 刘健、雷磊、孙逊这几位，其中几位前几年他们的作品都被邀请到台北数位艺术节里面的文化影展，还蛮想继续跟你们做一些交流的，能不能从这样子比较大的 方向来谈?
曹恺:好的，其实我跟邱黯雄做那次访谈之前，我和他之间有过一些散漫的对谈， 我们的谈话是从一个中国动画的发展史开始的。 这一年来，我一直在关注中国独立动画或者说实验动画的发展，所以我也开始对 中国动画的历史作了一些梳理。我把中国的动画史分成了四个历史阶段，第一个 阶段就是 1949 年以前，从上海万氏兄弟开始的一个原生的民族商业动画发展史， 这个历史到 1949 年的时候就中断了，那是一个大的转折点，很多历史在一夜之间 发生了一个改变。然后 1949 年之后的历史延续，我把这段时期叫做社会主义美术 片时代，1950 年代的时候，中国用美术片这样的概念取代了动画，当时整个上海 美影厂——就是上海美术电影制片厂，一个官方主导的、为意识形态服务的动画 电影产业。这段历史最后没落大概是在 1980 年代，也是最后的高峰，剪纸影片和 水墨影片出来之后，就已经走到了它的最后辉煌。进入 1990 年代以后，中国完全 进入了一个商业社会，大量的外资进入中国，国际动画加工业也进入中国，因为 中国的人力特别便宜，所以大家看到大量好莱坞的动画片，它的加工实际上很多 是在中国完成的，在 1990 年代初这个是一个非常发达的行业，这个行业其实一直 到现在还有，这个是第三个历史——就是动画加工片的一个历史。这个历史邱黯 雄认为是一个毫无价值的历史，但它也是一个确实的存在。那么第四个的历史阶 段，就是从 2000 年开始，中国出现了真正意义上的独立动画，完全以作者个人的 主观意识为出发点，由个人独力完成的动画片——第一个作者集群叫做 “闪客帝 国”，当时一些年轻人用 FLASH 这种比较便捷的电脑创作方法来创作一些动画片。 下午大家可能看到了卜桦的一个动画片，卜桦最早也是 “闪客帝国”的代表人物。 从 “闪客帝国” 开始中国就有了很多艺术家开始介入创作二维动画、三维动画， 慢慢的，各种动画形式就越来越多越来越多。所以，现在一般认为的中国独立动 画的发生是从 2000 年开始的。
曹恺:从今年年初开始，我做了一些中国实验电影的考古工作，就是追寻一些实 验电影源头，看看能不能发掘出一些我们所不知道的作品。在这样的情况下面， 一个偶然的机缘巧合，有朋友给我看了一部实验影片，这个影片是一部动画片， 然后我一看，就觉得很有历史年代，我的朋友告诉我，这是郝智强早年的一个作品。 我跟郝智强认识已经很多年，他在中国大陆是一个相当有成就的纪录片工作者， 他还担任过 CNEX 的监制。谁也不知道原来他还做过这么一部动画片，这部动画 片出品的年代，远远超出了我的想像，是 1988 年的创作。这部动画片的出现，一 下就把中国实验动画的源头提前了整整十二年，提前到了 1980 年代末。
石昌杰:那个年代在中国大陆，我想 1989 年之前做出一个文化批判性这么强烈的 作品，个人觉得非常的讶异，就像刚才说的不管是做创作或学术研究能找到这么 一个“国画史”是很棒的一件事。因为我自己在研究台湾的动画历史，其实有些片 子是在文字上看到，可是你没有办法找到它。其实连剧照都找不到的时候，个人 觉得最难处理，因为那样的一个存在变成了口耳相传，有时候我甚至会怀疑那样 的事情或者那个作品在不在，或者是不是哪个前辈过虑了。我很高兴曹恺在做学 术研究探讨的时候找到了 1988 年郝智强的这部作品，这个作品是来自于一个纪录 片拍摄者，那之后他还有没有在拍这种个人动画呢?
曹恺:实际上郝智强大学读的是北京电影学院的动画专业，但是在他那届之前的 动画专业，教的都是动画制作——就是他只教制法，不教创作思想，不教整个创 作过程。郝智强入学的那一年，北京电影学院第一次招了一个动画导演班，只有 四个人，郝智强就是其中之一，他的老师很多都是上海美影厂的一些老导演。 当时 1980 年代是个中国思想特别活跃特别开放的一个年代，我自己经历过这个时 期，我觉得我们这一代人很多的文化理想都是来自于 1980 年代，当时郝智强的一 些老师其实思想都很开放。上海美影厂有些老导演虽然他们自己的创作受到了体 制的很多局限，但是因为当时中国有很多动画片能够送到国外去参加一些动画电 影节，像《三个和尚》《小蝌蚪找妈妈》这样的影片，因为制法上面的高超还是 拿过很多国际的奖项。上海美影厂有个老导演叫阿达，他是郝智强的师父，阿达 出国参加这些海外的动画电影节的时候，他看过相当多的西方实验动画，可能还 有国外的一些导演在动画电影节的时候送给他一些自己的作品——在当时应该是 VHS 盒带，阿达就把这些资讯带回传授给了他的学生，这样的一些资讯对年轻人 来说是非常重要的。 郝智强创作的这个作品是他当时的毕业作品，当时他一定要自己做一个个人的作 品，后来他花了一年的时间完成了。这是他自己唯一的一件独立实验动画作品。 毕业以后，他被分配到中央电视台动画部工作，动画部是为少儿节目服务的，要 他整天画那些小孩子的卡通动画，他当然完全不愿意做这样的工作，但在离开中 央之后，他也无法再做自己动画的创作。在当时的情况下，他就把自己转向纪录 片的方向，所以在这之后的二十多年里面，他从一个学习动画的年轻人完全变成 了一个纪录片的作者。
石昌杰:非常可惜，我想这真的是一个大环境、大时代的关系会影响到创作者他 的方向，当然纪录片也是另一种选择，我们在台湾目前纪录片非常的夯，它所受 到的注目或者文化部的支持远胜于动画。
提问观众:刚刚曹恺导演说有一些的动画的发表在 2000 年以后开始在以视觉艺术 为发表场合的双年展里面发表或展出，我想问一下这样子的展演形式有没有对动 画这个形式产生一些无论是概念上或是技术上的刺激或转变?
曹恺:实际上，很多做实验动画的作者，他们本身是做当代艺术出身的，对他们 来说，动画可能是表达他们艺术观念的一种方法;那反过来说，当代艺术的场域 是否使得动画发生了一些改变呢 ? 我觉得这种情况应该是正在发生当中。比如说 现在像是孙逊的展览，他有时候会做一些动画和他的绘画结合、带有某种装置性 的展示方式。 我来台北之前的两天，我去广州参加了一个实验动画展——“动画是一层皮:十一 个艺术家的动画案例”，用了很多复杂的展览方法，就是每一个作者不但要把自己 的动画作品在美术馆的空间展示，他还要展示跟这件动画作品相关的很多物件， 比如原画、手稿、台本、玩偶模型等，有的是做成大幅壁画和动画结合起来的展 览方式，还有一个是纯粹的动画装置。像是孙逊的的展示方式就很特别，他用一 个非常大的画卷，从二楼吊下，正面是他的原画，背面才是他的动画作品。更加 极端的方法就是我刚刚跟石昌杰老师有讲到吴超，她是广州的一位女艺术家，她 花了两年的时间创作了一个二十二分钟的动画作品，那已经是很长的，而且更加 夸张的是展示的方法，就是一面是三屏，另一面还有一个特别长的宽频，她的这个作品就必须要在一个当代艺术的场域里面才能够完成。传统的影片式的观看方 法这个作品的展示就会受到很大的局限，我觉得最有可能就是当代艺术这种现场 感和空间感这种追求对动画语言的创作形态产生的一些改变。
石昌杰:台湾比较有在做装置性动画的创作者，大概就高重黎，目前一件作品也 正在台北美术馆展出，之前还在意大利的动画历史博物馆去参展。我想说在规模 上，台湾也能在这方面发展得更活一点，因为目前看起来大陆朝这种当代艺术发 展的动画艺术家比较多。
Asia from the West: A Case Study and the History of Chinese Experimental Animation
Speakers: Cao Kai, Shi Changjie
Time: December 21, 2013
Place: Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre, Taipei
NB: This passage is a record of a dialogue at EX!T4 Experimental Media Art Festival in Taiwan, hosted by Yao Liqun, the director of Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre. The scheduled speakers were Qiu Anxiong, an experimental animation artist from Shanghai, and Shi Changjie, pioneer of experimental animation and senior director from Taipei. Unfortunately, due to the storm, Mr. Qiu was trapped at the airport in New York and could not attend. Curator Cao Kai took his place and engaged in a dialogue with Mr. Shi on Chinese experimental animation. The passage is included in West of Taiwan, East of Asia: A Study of Asian Experimental Film (Le Ganges Edition Public Group, Taipei, 2016), edited by Wu Junhui. The following passage is a newly edited version, with the title and sub-title provided by Mr. Cao.
Shi Changjie: About two or three years ago, I had the honor to be invited to China Independent Animation Film Forum in Beijing. I was surprised to find that in the past few years, there have emerged several highly creative independent animation artists in Mainland China. Director Liu Jian is one of these artists; last year, he was in Taipei, and received a production funding from the Taipei Golden Horse Film Project Promotion. Last year, we also invited Mr. Liu with his short lm Chaos & Order, and this lm has also been screened today.
Another thing I found surprising is that, historically, Taiwan started rather late in the eld of animated lm, later than the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. However, in terms of the development of experimental animation, Taiwan is a step ahead because of the democratic system here. But since the mainland has a rich cultural heritage, in recent years, the works I have seen are all very wonderful and have expanded my horizon, and it makes me think that Taiwan should work harder in this field.
Although Director Qiu Anxiong cannot join us here today, Mr. Cao Kai is quite familiar with Qiu, and I think it is proper to let Mr. Cao speak for the most part today. First, I would like to start with the concept of “the author.” Now we have the idea of the “death of the author,” but as the center of creation, tartists can show us their inner worlds, ideologes, and their preferences in aesthetic symbols and language.
Part 1. Case Study: Qiu Anxiong
Cao Kai: It so happened that this May, I had an interview with Mr. Qiu. Before the interview, I had known him for a long time, but my general understanding of his works started only from that time. In the interview, I asked Mr. Qiu a lot about his experiences studying and making art. Today, I will use the script of that interview as a reference in introducing him.
Mr. Qiu Anxiong graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. Soon after his graduation, he went to Germany and studied in Kunsthochschule Kassel. At first, I thought he majored in animation there, but it turns out that he started with general plastic arts. While in Kassel, he often visited the animation studio there and gradually developed an interest. He took some courses as an auditing student and mastered quite a lot of the techniques inadvertently. According to him, when studying in Kassel, what influenced him most were the works of William Kentridge, an artist from South Africa. I once saw a silhouette-style film by Kentridge at the Shanghai Biennale and thought it was an eye-opener, too. Qiu saw it in Germany and was immediately attracted by Kentridge’s works. He wondered if he, too, could make works with this technique.
Shi Changjie: I have seen Kentridge’s films in New York. Before this conversation, I already thought that Mr. Qiu’s style had a certain resemblance with Kentridge’s. In fact, this technique is little known in Taiwan; only some students use it at Tainan National University of the Arts. Of course, Mr. Qiu’s works differ with Kentridge’s in that he adopts an ink painting style, and it absolutely belongs to traditional Chinese painting—or shall we say belongs to a Chinese way of expression—whereas Kentridge applies the techniques of oil painting. Actually, we see that Qiu’s works combine the two techniques. In experimental animation, Shanghai Animation Film Studio has also adopted the techniques of ink painting, and it uses the method of multiple exposure, i.e., “feathering,” adapted from cutout animation. Nowadays, in the “Digital Era,” ink painting is created on the computer, but both the works of Qiu and Kentridge adopt pure painting. It is unfortunate that Mr. Qiu could not join us today; I am curious how his works are made. I see that they are not single pieces; many are brushed over again and again, and still leave a blank. When applying the brush, no matter in oil or ink, he often leaves traces, kind of like smudges and kind of not; under a new brushstroke there still exists an old one, which is called a “residue.” There is a particular way to do it on a piece of glass, but these are still single pieces painted one by one. Since Mr. Qiu is absent, I wonder if you have visited his studio and watched him work? If you have, would you please tell us something about his techniques or methods?
Cao Kai: Actually, I have asked Mr. Qiu this question before, and he gave me a very detailed answer, which I can share with you today. This passage of mine has been published in the Mainland, so this topic is not a secret. Mr. Qiu came back to China in 2004, and wanted to start making animation then. He had conducted many experiments before; for example, he took several sets of photos and made them into stop-motion animation. After a lot of experimentation, he finally decided on the method of hand-drawing.
Before this, I asked Mr. Qiu a question, which Mr. Shi also mentioned before — does traditional Chinese ink painting have any influence on him? Mr. Qiu has overseas experience, and while in a foreign land, he paid more attention to his native culture. He found that ink animation has a high aesthetic value. But due to limited conditions of production, he could not adopt the complete methods of Shanghai Animation Film Studio—plus some of their key methods remained secret. And so it is difficult to apply this technique to his creation, and he was forced to look for other solutions.
Shi Changjie: Speaking of experimentation, I have something to say: in a certain way, sometimes, there is some distance between the artist as an individual and the techniques in the industry or field as a whole. Some animation artists of my generation could not immediately or successfully join the industry, so they did not get technical training either. But in turn, they developed a unique method of their own in painting or animation, which is a very valuable experience. I believe that it is the same in the Mainland. Mr. Qiu appreciates ink animation a lot, but if he had gotten national support then, I think what he would have created would be similar to the works of others. The integrated style you see now would not have been possible. So that might have been a blessing in disguise. He has his own language of animation and visuality. Just now, Mr. Cao introduced Mr. Qiu’s background; together with the film screened at one o’clock, we know that many artists graduated from art colleges. Their ideas are thus different from those who graduated from animation departments. They do not labor under a sense of professionalism, that is to say, they are not satisfied with being an ordinary person. In making an animation, the division of labor is normally very detailed. As an independent animation artist, their determination is very firm—which I nd very precious.
Cao Kai: In the beginning, Mr. Qiu also tried xuan paper, but then he came against a problem. He bought a high-end digital SLR camera and planned to adopt the technique of stop-motion, taking a photo of each drawing. But the problem was that when the ink is applied to xuan paper, the paper would crinkle. Before being mounted, xuan paper is always uneven; it would always be different depending on whether there is ink or not, or whether more water was there or less. And once shot, the frame is uneven, too. After several attempts, he finally came up with a solution. He paints on canvas, and later on metal plates. On the latter media, he could not use the ink for traditional Chinese painting, so actually he uses acrylic paints. He adds the dilution and water into acrylic paints and makes it even. The brush he uses is still the traditional Chinese brush. Once he nished a frame on the metal plate, he would take a photo. This is his method. Sure, I don’t think the speci c process is easy, because he has to control the amount of water and to decide where to paint and where to leave a blank, etc. He also applies certain techniques from Western painting, like combining white powder and black acrylic paints together to make different shades of grey, or covering over the colors, whereas traditional Chinese paints are all transparent and could not be used to cover colors over. So I think that in Mr. Qiu’s works, there is some freestyling with traditional Chinese painting, along with a touch of German Expressionism.
Shi Changjie: This is brilliant! I think it can be called Mr. Qiu’s secret skill. If we compare the field of animation to a faction in martial arts, it certainly can be called a special move, which is admirable. Earlier, we mentioned the techniques Shanghai Animation Film Studio employed; indeed, many of their techniques did not last, but I do remember seeing a program when I was young, where a Japanese television station interviewed this Studio and revealed some of their techniques—not many of them, of course. Like I said in the opening introduction, what Mr. Qiu does is silhouette-style animation, using the technique of “feathering”, and adding double exposure, achieving the same effect as the spectacular works of Shanghai Animation Film Studio.
In Taiwan, we do not have a studio like the one in Shanghai, but we do have two directors, Gao Zhongfu and Shi Xiaoyun, who both adopted these methods, making ink drawings on paper. Director Shi even uses xuan paper. In fact, they have also created wonderful modern ink animations, no longer talking about filial piety and righteousness. So, in my opinion, Mr. Qiu’s technique combines both Chinese and Western methods, which is quite original. Sure, an artist does not like it when people only talk about his invention of a technique, because artists have feelings and ideas that they want to convey to the others. In Mr. Qiu’s works, I see the trace of some Taiwanese animation directors of my generation who liked to touch on big ideas. In Mr. Qiu’s works, the film Jiang Nan Poem is quite poetic, nostalgic, with added little bits of electronic music, so it actually also combines the old and the new. Apart from this film, most of his works talk about history, the cultural environment, the present day, etc., and even combines ancient myths with modern technology. I think his works are quite rich in content and really worth discussing. Did you talk about this in the interview?
Cao Kai: I have talked about this with Mr. Qiu. The first time I saw Mr. Qiu’s work was in 2006 Shanghai Biennale. It was his second animation work, New Book of Mountains and Seas Part 1, while the first was Jiang Nan Poem. At that time, after seeing the film, I was shocked. No artist in China ever employed this technique. Before him, there was never animation works—especially drawn by hand—in biennials in China. New Book of Mountains and Seas Part 1 was shown on three screens, forming a super long screen wall. The film relates an ancient Chinese myth, and through it, reflects many real societal and political problems in our day, and it adopts the methods of metonymy, metaphor, and so on. Later, I asked Mr. Qiu why he chose the text of The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Qiu answered that when he was abroad, studying Western cultural and art, he would feel lonely and developed an urge to study our native culture. When he was in Germany, he has already had the idea to create a work based on The Classic of Mountains and Seas.
Shi Changjie: In New Book of Mountains and Seas Part 1, I can see that he borrows from the oldest myth in Chinese culture, but what he talks about is very modern. We can see the conflict between nature and technology. He blends all modern technological tools with animals, be they cars, oil-drilling machines, tanks and the like. To me, this technique is quite innovative. In the world of animation, this is not a problem at all. In the real world, of course, we would never think the same of a robot and an animal. I admire Mr. Qiu’s creativity a lot.
Cao Kai: Based on my experience and chats with Mr. Qiu, he is not like those artists who stand aloof from worldly affairs, talking about nothing else but art. Mr. Qiu is a man of insight and is concerned with society and politics. He often expresses his
opinions on social issues on Weibo; he has a firm political stand and would express his opinions on social matters. He is a man of intense emotions.
Shi Changjie: I find that Mr. Qiu has a wide interest in things. Reading the interview scripts gives me a brief introduction to New Book of Mountains and Seas Part 1. Whereas Part 2 shows me his concerns about the Three Gorges Dam, with its huge environmental damage. He also expresses his opinions on issues like genetic modification and the like. So, if Part 1 deals with the conflict between politics, religion, and civilization, then Part 2 is concerned with genetic modification, the deterioration of environment and life brought about by environmental engineering and public projects. I therefore think his themes are all rather large. As for the two films we just saw, Minguo Landscape and Temptation of the Land: as Mr. Cao said, they reflect Mr. Qiu’s deep observations of politics. I wonder if he has ever talked about his opinion on historical changes, like from the Republic of China to the founding of People’s Republic of China? He actually stands on a higher level to present the changes, so I’m curious if he has ever touched on a more political angle in your interview—even a forbidden one?
Cao Kai: The interview in May emphasized academic matters, but in private we have had more exchanges on such matters, including our interaction on Weibo and so on. Mr. Qiu and I have much in common, like an interest in contemporary history. If you see Mr. Qiu in person, you will have the impression of a traditional rural intellectual, or shall I say the temperament of a scholar-gentry, something which is gradually disappearing in China now and rare to find, but which I think still remains in Mr. Qiu. As for contemporary history, especially that of the Republic of China, we have discussed that a lot in private. Mr. Qiu chooses a special technique of visual art to present historical changes. His works prefer an ultra-wide screen, which I think is like a long scroll in traditional Chinese painting, and it matches China’s long, long history. Of course, these expressions all underwent a poetic treatment; Mr. Qiu is a poet in nature and thus has such tendencies when making works. When an artist presents a historical issue, he must convey it visually. So I think Mr. Qiu does nd a way of his own.
Part 2: Historical Legacy and the Present Ecology of Chinese Animation
Shi Changjie: Thank you, Cao Kai, for sharing with us Qiu Anxiong’s temperament, ideas, background even though the director himself could not make it. You are the planner and just now at the forum it was mentioned that you discovered some valuable material. You said that because lms were made collectively in Mainland China and animations considered an important program for early childhood education, Shanghai Animation Film Studio indeed undertook a major role. With the market economy in China, the Studio has declined and yet independent animators have sprung up. I know Mainland China is rich in talented artists; we have talked about Liu Jian, Lei Lei, and Sun Xun. Some of them were invited to the Digital Art Festival in Taipei a few years ago. I want to know more about this. Could you please talk about this?
Cao Kai: Okay. In fact, I had a talk with Qiu Anxiong before that interview, which was about the history of Chinese animation.
For the past year I have been focusing on the development of Chinese independent or experimental animation, trying to sort out the history. I have divided it into four periods. The first period saw the development of native or national commercial animation with great contributions from the Wan Brothers; this ended in 1949, which was a turning point with radical changes occurring overnight. Then in the second historical period after 1949 socialist cartoon and puppet lms prevailed. In the 1950s the concept of “animation” was replaced with “cartoon and puppet lms” (meishupian) in China. At the time, the Shanghai Animation Film Studio, a government-led and ideologically imbued institution, dominated the animation and film industry. This historical period ended in the 1980s when this particular artistic form reached its nal peak. Cutout animations and ink animations saw their birth and nal glory at the same time. A commercial China appeared in the 1990s with huge foreign in ows of capital. The animation processing industry was also introduced into China due to the low costs there. Many Hollywood animation lms we watched were processed in China. The industry developed in the early 1990s actually exists to this day. This is the third historical period—the history of processed animated lms. Qiu Anxiong thought the period is of no value but it indeed existed. The fourth historical period started in 2000 when independent animations came into being in China. They were entirely manipulated and independently completed by the creators on their own. The rst group of these creators was “Flash Empire.” Some young people at that time made animations with Flash, a convenient and effective computer software. Some of you may have seen an animation created by Bu Hua this afternoon, a typical gure from “Flash Empire”. Since “Flash Empire,” many artists in China have been engaged in the creation of 2D and 3D animations. Gradually there were more forms of animation. So it is generally recognized that independent animations emerged around 2000.
Cao Kai: Earlier this year I started my archaeological investigation into experimental lms in China—in other words, tracing their point of origin in an attempt to nd works still unknown to the public. Out of pure luck, a friend showed me an experimental lm, an animated one. At rst glance, I knew it was quite old. My friend told me it was created by Hao Zhiqiang many years ago. Hao is an old acquaintance of mine with considerable accomplishments in the documentary format. He was a producer of CNEX. No one would have thought he made such an animation. It was produced in an unexpected year—1988. Since this was discovered, the history of experimental animation in China start 12 years earlier, that is, in the late 1980s.
Shi Changjie: That such a highly critical work was actually made in Mainland China then—before 1989—is amazing. It is great to identify the “history of Chinese animations” either for the purposes of creation or of academic research. I have studied the history of animation in Taiwan. People come to know some lms from books but there is no way to nd them. It is most difficult when the stills are lost; then the works
become mere legends, for which I would doubt their existence or the conclusion of my predecessors. I am so glad that Cao Kai discovered Hao Zhiqiang’s 1988 work in his academic research—and made by a documentarian. Did he make any independent animation since then?
Cao Kai: In fact Hao Zhiqiang majored in animation in Beijing Film Academy, but before his enrolment, only the actual techniques were taught in the major—how the animations are made, in other words, but not creative ideas or the entire process of production. The program for cultivation of animation directors was provided by Beijing Film Academy for the first time in Hao’s freshman year. There were four students in the program and Hao was one of them. Some of his teachers were directors in the Shanghai Animation Film Studio.
The 1980s in China was characterized by open minds and I am a witness. I feel that for people of my generation, many of our ideals came from that era. Some teachers of Hao Zhiqiang were actually open-minded. Although the directors in Shanghai Animation Film Studio felt restricted by the institution, some animations were sent to compete at international animation festivals. Animations such as Three Monks and Baby Tadpoles Look for Their Mother won many international awards for their superb technique. There was a director in Shanghai Animation Film Studio—A Da, Hao Zhiqiang’s teacher. A Da watched quite a few experimental Western animations and probably some VHS-based works from foreign directors as gifts when attending the festivals overseas. A Da brought them back to his students, which were of great importance to these young men.
Hao Zhiqiang created the piece as the final project before graduation. He insisted on doing it on his own, so he spent one year. It is the only independent experimental animated work made by Hao himself. After the graduation, he was sent to the Animation Producing Department of CCTV to make TV programs for kids. He had to draw cartoons all day long, so he gave that up. He found it hard to create animation after graduating from the Beijing Film Academy. In such circumstances he turned to documentary, and in the following 20 years he has been a documentarian, not a documentarian.
Shi Changjie: What a pity. A creator may, to a large extent, be subject to the in uence of the social environment and the times. Documentary, of course, is a choice. Currently in Taiwan documentaries are very popular, which draw more attention and support from the Ministry of Culture than animations.
Question from the audience: Director Cao Kai just mentioned that some animations after 2000 were released or shown in biennales where visual arts tend to predominate. I want to know if such forms of exhibition have stimulated or changed the animated form conceptually or technologically.
Cao Kai: In fact, many experimental animators were originally engaged in contemporary art. Animations, for them, might be a means to express their artistic ideas; in turn, have animations been changed in the domain of contemporary art? I think that’s what is happening. Sun Xun, for example, would sometimes combine animation with his paintings or with installations in the exhibition.
Before I came here in Taipei, I was at an experimental animation exhibition in Guangzhou two days ago called “Animation is a Piece of Skin—Case Studies of 11 Artists.” There were various complicated ways of exhibiting the works. The creators needed to display not only their animated works in the gallery but the relevant objects such as the original painting, manuscript, play script, and puppet models. Some combined large-scale wall paintings with animation while others provided a purely animated installation. Sun Xun’s method of exhibition was peculiar. A large picture scroll hung from the second oor with his original painting on the obverse side and his animated work on the reverse side. Wu Chao, as I just told Mr. Shi Changjie, resorted to extremes. An artist from Guangzhou, she made a 22-minute animation over 2 years— which is quite long. Her exhibition format was astonishing. There were three screens on one side and a very long screen on the other, and the work can be displayed only in the domain of contemporary art. Its exhibition will be greatly limited if the work is watched like any traditional movie. I think that is probably because the pressing sense of presence and spatiality in contemporary art is in uencing the making of animations.
Shi Changjie: There is probably only one creator of installation animation in Taiwan— Gao Chongli. His work is now being exhibited in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and was displayed in the Animation History Museum in Italy. In term of scale, I want to say, Taiwan should welcome a higher degree of exibility as compared to Mainland China where there are more animation artists setting foot in contemporary art.