李振华 × 雷磊：对我来说就像一个城堡 Li Zhenhua x Lei Lei: To me it feels like a castle
李振华 × 雷磊：对我来说就像一个城堡
李振华 雷磊 2016
雷磊:好的，就我个人来说，在中国独立动画是介于当代艺术、电影和所谓的动 漫产业的边缘和交界线上的一个东西，它和在西方不太一样，有可能在欧洲独立 动画是一个完整的职业状态，就是有独立的制片人，国家的资金可以申请。但是 在中国我觉得没有这样的一个职业的存在，更多地是艺术家自我的一个创作状态 的认可，而不是一个职业的名词。
所以，我觉得好处是独立动画在中国没有一个职业上的束缚，没有一个规则，但 问题也是，它很难找到一个循环的模式。就这个情况，可能就让独立动画的艺术 家寄身于其他的环境内，我们可以看到这样的例子:有的艺术家就走向了电影， 有的艺术家就走向了当代艺术，或是说偏向吧，不能说走向，还有的艺术家就慢 慢偏向于一个影视文化公司的运营模式，这个都有相对的范例。但是我觉得，我 自己的生存状况是我不要一个特别工整的运作模式，因为独立动画生存于三个系 统之外，应该可以找到一个适合于自己，不是那么职业化的独立运作模式。
雷磊:原来，说到我的工作方式更像一个即兴创作。比如说我绘画，也做音乐， 我会有很多的灵感，然后我会在迅速把它变化成为动画或者视觉，然后可以去一 些电影节。但是渐渐的，我觉得这样的工作方式太过于昙花一现了，我需要反省。 所以最近几年，我会让我的创作慢一些，更多地思考一下。比如说从《照片回收》 开始，我会整理出一个自己的逻辑，对待图像也好，对待影像也好，我希望自己 构建一个系统去处理这些素材或者是档案，所以我的作品渐渐不那么依赖于灵光 一现的想象力或者灵感，虽然它们同样难能可贵。
就像我们之前聊到的，我觉得我的创作可能没有一个固定的模式。比如说《照片 回收》和《照片手工上色》是和苏文合作的，我在做的家庭纪录片是正好我读到 了父亲写的文章。但是我还是希望我每个作品之间是有联系的，是有一个艺术家 思考的脉络在里面，我会有一个自己思考的主题。
关于主题，我现在最近越来越感兴趣，是对于一些历史文献的收集和整理，然后 对它的一些消化，但是是用一个艺术家的视角来看待它，用一个有趣的线索把它 串联起来，有一些新的捏造或者荒谬的结局，找到一些戏剧感。我觉得也很有趣， 这些历史资料都是很写实的，是很具体的，但是这种捏造是抽象的，艺术家的想 象力也是抽象的，所以在两者中间找到平衡是非常微妙的。
雷磊:这些档案或者历史资料是非常具体的，是确实可信的，它感觉不可动摇， 它有权威性。然后另一方面，艺术家的想象和艺术家的逻辑与他荒谬的处理方式 又是非常抽象的，我觉得是很有诗意的，幻想的，不可言语的。这两者之间造成
一个张力和空间，这个空间是作品存在的地方，这个场所是艺术家舞蹈和张牙舞 爪的地方，所以我特别喜欢在这种较量中，或者在这两种力量中间去表达自己， 就是说这种平衡和这种拿捏是好的艺术家能够做到的。
雷磊:我觉得是的，我刚刚聊到的“空间”是一个比喻，是一个空间，但是我觉得 如果在展览和日常中我们会把它具像化。比如说最简单的，我们会希望在日常生 活里面有自己的私人空间，但是在展厅或者公共空间里，我希望去虚构自己的一 个幻想之地或者自己可以玩得开的一个方寸之地。我觉得这是相互作用的，就是 这个空间会对艺术家造成一定的压力，会让艺术家有所改动，艺术家也会对这个 空间进行一些反抗和改造，然后最终形成一个有趣的在计划之外的一个形态。
我跟苏文合作的《照片手工上色》项目，我们就在一个酒店里面搭了一个黑屋子， 这个黑屋子就像空间的具像化，然后也是对酒店环境的一个反抗，我要对抗它。 这个黑屋子跟照片和记忆有关，我们会把里面填充满 1168 张上色照片，让观众进 入到这个空间里，就进入到我们的世界，进入到我的幻想地。
雷磊:我觉得脉络可能不是一个关键词，我觉得它是一套系统，是艺术家自我构 建的一套系统。这个系统对我来说就像我的一个城堡，我在里面可以避风挡雨， 就像我刚刚在宁都看到的这个风雨亭。但是同时，它又是我的幻想之地，我可以 站在风雨亭的顶端看到更远的地方。
雷磊:我个人觉得档案它首先是有时间属性的，我们在收集很多档案的时候就知 道它来自 80 年代，甚至一些老照片或者一些杂志上直接印刷或标注了它的年份。 但是如何把它们构建起来或联系起来，这就是艺术家的能力。我觉得我最感兴趣 的就是虚构或者捏造的故事。比如说在《照片手工上色》这个项目里面，我们对 很多照片进行手工上色，然后把不同人的照片用上色的方式联系在了一起，虚构 了一个中国人的一生，在这一生里我们重构了里面的时间，把时间都给打散了， 但是用一个所谓的故事的线索，用一个虚构故事的线索让这个作品成立起来。
其实，我会对这些资料特别武断地、特别直觉地下一个大的定义。比如说这些照 片就是来自于同一个人的，或者这个故事就是悲剧的，所以这可能和一些社会学 调查和研究是不一样的，它是非常私人的情感。比如说像在《照片回收》的工作中， 那么多，大约 50 万张来自“北京银矿”的照片，我就非常武断，我就说它是来自于 一个人或者一个家庭，在这种前提下我剪辑完成了最终的短片。
雷磊:我觉得我的叙事线索就来自于一个直觉和档案对我的一种影响。首先我是 在阅读大量档案以后再去编纂这个的，所以它的线索其实又是和档案之间形成相 互依存的关系。像《照片回收》的 “一个家庭 ”，其实就像我刚刚回答的，它是特 别武断的，完全没有来由，但是其实又来自于档案，因为我们经常在一个胶卷内 看到一个家庭的内容反复出现，我和苏文看到这个家庭去旅游、去看电视，然后 和冰箱留念。这个概念也是来源于档案。虽然我的判断或者线索非常武断，但是 其实还是非常尊重我研究的档案。
我对档案的理解不会把它数据化，我反而会让它变得更加浪漫。这些档案给我的 情感，给我的一些煽动，或触动也好，我会又让它回到对档案的创作中。比如说《照 片回收》的动画，“啪啦啪啦”一秒十张照片，那样大的量就是这些档案给我的感觉， 因为它们太沉重了，50 万张“北京银矿”就扔在垃圾箱里。我就把这种沉重保留在 之后的展览和短片创作中，我都会保留这种巨大的压力，还有噪音在视频和现场。
雷磊:比如雎安奇导演的《诗人出差了》，拍摄和剪辑有很大的时间跨度，我觉 得就形成了影像的档案，诗歌似乎成为了影片的线索。其实我想问您是如何看待 “档案” 和 “线索” 呢?
雷磊:对于线索来说是很艺术家私人的观点，是非常微妙的。记得我们在 Locarno 电影节的时候我看了一部来自艺术家 Fiona Tan 的影片《ASCENT》。艺 术家使用的大量关于富士山的照片完成了一部 80 分钟的电影，看完后我满身鸡皮 疙瘩，觉得特别特别有趣。
李振华:有时候会想为什么这是艺术那些不是?而后，也自然的就选择了应该被 选择的。你谈到的东西接近为被遗弃的素材——废片，重构故事。而这些废片成 为了你工作的主要元素。
雷磊:是的，我同意，但是同时又提出了另外一个问题，究竟在素材面前艺术家 在哪儿?比如说在《照片回收》的时候，可能我更多地是在对这些废片或者您说 的素材进行整理，但是在《照片手工上色》的时候我真的试图去重新构建一个资 料库，这个资料库都是虚构的，然后再用我的线索把它串引起来。我现在做的家 庭纪录片，我也是希望去虚构一些资料，比如说很多的资料我们是无法在现实生 活中找到获得的，所以我就用橡皮泥来捏造它，然后用我的手工工作去填补我们 无法获得的档案。
都感觉 OK，半信半疑。对，我也有很多的小心机在里面。就像我最近的工作《书 上的书》还有家庭口述历史纪录片的项目，我翻阅了很多的《人民画报》，我去 德国的二手市场找一些老照片、老杂志，我去江西宁都录音，我好象是在试图都 在寻找真相或者是证据，但是其实真正在创作的时候我完全用一种神话故事，虚 构的方式重新使用这些档案，或者使用一些我伪造的档案。
雷磊:这个就是太有趣了，我觉得我们聊到非常好玩的一个地方，比如说我在做 家庭历史口述史纪录片的时候，我试图去江西寻找一些档案，我们去录当地的声 音，去博物馆查找一些当时的记忆，但是发现所有人都在证明他说的是真实的， 无论是官方，还是私人。当地的博物馆里面，会有各种各样的实物或文献去证明 历史的存在，口述史的个人也在说 “当时是这样的”，但是每个人的话语之间都有 出入。
谁是真相呢?是谁在虚构呢?是私人吗，还是官方?我觉得这是没有答案的，而 作为艺术家，最有趣的就是在您所谓的混沌或者混淆之间独立地找到自己的一块 阵地。就像前面提到的空间，我有一个完整的系统，我会非常自圆其说地去讲述 这段历史，虽然我明确告诉你它是虚构的，它可能也是真实的，但是在我的创作 里它是完整的。它比真实的还要真实，比虚构的或许还要虚构。
李振华:所以关于真实本身，是一直需要去讨论的，艺术家自己的工作恰好是对 某一时刻的关系的传递，有时候也不一定是故事和叙述，有图像和对模糊记忆的 调动，都可能产生人和人之间的共感。
雷磊:是的，我在之前回答中好象有点强调故事和叙述，但是这个可能是我经常 以影像为语言，我会对故事或者叙述有所依赖何偏执。但是其实就像您说的，有 图象或者对一些记忆的调动，它也可以产生这种共鸣，并不一定只是故事。
雷磊:这让我想到了独立动画的不同观影方式和条件。如果是在放映，比如说在 一个影院放映，艺术家更像是一个输出的人，因为观众是被动输入的一种办法。 如果是在展厅里，或者像您刚刚问的，在一个空间里，艺术家不仅是输出，他也 是一个容器。
李振华:放映和电影，艺术呈现和空间，叙事和倾听，这些都可以被看作创作的 两面。艺术本就是借助语境生效的，而创作和生产的是不是艺术并不重要，什么 时候是只需要语境和空间合适。
雷磊:但是回到独立动画、电影创作上，它们和生产的关系还是比较紧密的。我 觉得有的时候它们的语境也是有被限定的地方，比如说大多时候独立动画的放映 是依赖于一个电影院或者是电影节的一个放映常态。当然，一方面它好象也是对于一个艺术家的限制，但是另一方面，我觉得它也是艺术家的一个战场或者艺术 家可以借助的一种游戏和工具。
雷磊:就像电影院这种语境无疑是一个已经限定和规定好的语境，或者是空间。 但是某些艺术家也可以把这个空间作为他的一个表演场地，比如说，道格拉斯·戈 登的 I HAD NO WHERE TO GO，哇，是让我非常非常惊讶的作品。
Li Zhenhua x Lei Lei: To me it feels like a castle
Li Zhenhua---Li Lei Lei---Lei 2016
Li: Let’s begin our conversation on independent animation. What’s your de nition of “independent” ? Is there a specific independent way of operating?
Lei: Sure. In my view, Chinese independent animation falls somewhere along the peripheries and boundaries of contemporary art, film, and the so-called animation industry. Its position is different from independent animation in the West. European independent animation might be part of a complete professional environment—meaning that they have independent animation producers and can apply for government funding. In China, however, I do not believe that we have such a professional environment. Chinese independent animation usually means that an individual artist initiates his/her own project, rather than referring to a specific profession.
For that reason, I suppose it should be considered an advantage for Chinese independent animation, since there are no professional constraints or specific rules governing this eld. Yet, that is also the main problem as it is rather difficult to find a sustainable model. As a result, many independent animation artists switch fields and we can see plenty of such examples: some artists pursue professional filmmaking or contemporary art whereas others establish and run their own video production companies. We see many examples of such career moves. As for myself, I suppose I don’t want such a smooth operation to run my life. As independent animation exists outside of the three aforementioned fields, I believe I should be able to find an independent model that not only fits myself, but also not so highly professional.
Li: So how do you work as an artist? How do you create your own work?
Lei: The way I work as an artist is more impromptu. For instance, I got a lot of inspiration when I drew or composed music, and then very quickly I would turn them into animations or something visual; in the end, some of these works were accepted by lm festivals. Over time, however, I found this way of working too much like a ash in the pan and I had to take a hard look at my approach. In recent years, I tried to slow my creative process down and to reflect more. For example, starting with Recycled I came up with my own logic to deal with images and moving images. I wanted to build my own system of processing these materials or files, so gradually my works didn’t rely so much on one moment of inspiration or imagination—even if they remain as unique as ever.
As we discussed earlier, I don’t think my productions follow a specific model. For instance, I collaborated with Thomas Sauvin on Recycled and Hand-Colored while articles written by my father inspired the family documentary I am currently working on. It is my hope, however, that all my works are somehow connected to each other and they all contain the context of an artist’s re ection as I do have speci c themes in terms of my ideas.
Regarding themes, I have become increasingly drawn to collecting and organizing historical archives. Then I would try to digest them from an artist’s perspective and bring them together using interesting clues. That can include newly fabricated or ridiculous endings in order to inject more drama. What I nd particularly fascinating is that these historical archives are very realistic and speci c, yet these fabrications are very abstract, just like an artist’s imagination. It is therefore very delicate trying to nd the balance between the two.
Li: Speaking of archives, they seem to appear frequently in your works. Sometimes they are images from the past, while at other times they can be fragments of reality, or they can even be something like what you mentioned, between you and your father.
Lei: On the one hand, these archives or historical records are very speci c and quite reliable; they feel indisputable and authoritative. On the other hand, an artist’s imagination and logic as well as his absurd treatment of the subject matter are very abstract. I nd that very poetic, fantastic and indescribable. These two elements create a certain tension and space where the artwork exists. That’s the place where artists dance and let their imagination soar. I particularly enjoy this kind of tension and try to express myself through the clash of these two forces, for only great artists can achieve this delicate balance.
Li: Is the space you just mentioned a speci c space? How does that space relate to exhibition spaces and daily space? Apart from your intervention, do these spaces also become part of your art or performances?
Lei: I think so. The “space” that I just mentioned is an analogy, but we can talk about this space in concrete terms in exhibitions and everyday life. The simplest example would be that in our everyday life, we like to have our own private space whereas in an exhibition or public space, we might want to construct an imaginary space or a place where we can go wild. I believe there is reciprocity at work as the space would exert a certain pressure on the artist, while the artist in turn would resist or reconstruct the space. Ultimately this would create an interesting condition beyond plans that already exist. For the Hand Colored project that I collaborated with Thomas Sauvin and we built a dark house inside a hotel. The dark house is almost like the concretization of the space and represents a resistance to the hotel itself—I might ght against it. The dark house is connected to photos and memory, and we posted 1168 colored photos inside it. When we let the audience come inside that space, they entered our world and my imagination.
Li: What kind of context does an artist need? Is the theme just certain keywords, images or ambience?
Lei: I believe the context might not be the keyword here, but rather a system that is constructed by the artist. To me, this system is like a castle where I can take shelter in case of a storm or rainfall, just like the rain pavilion I saw recently in Ningdu. Yet at the same time, it should be a land of my imagination; I should be able to see sceneries a lot further away when stepping on top of the rain pavilion.
Li: Since the project Recycled, you began contemplating on context and that corresponded to your research on building archives—how to think about the time to build archives and the clues from image.
Lei: In my view, many of these archives were rooted in certain time periods. Many archives we collected came from the 1980s while some old photos or magazines contained the number of the year when they were printed. It was down to the artist to organize these materials and to create an artwork out of them. What interests me the most is the ctional or fabricated story. For instance in Hand Colored, we colored many of these photos manually and organized photos of different people based on the way we colored. In the end, we managed to ctionalize the life of a Chinese person. Throughout this lifetime, we reconstructed the time that it covered and broke it into various segments. So we created this piece with “clues” from a ctional story.
To be honest, I would usually come up with an arbitrary and meaningful de nition of the materials based on my instinct. For example, I would assume that these photos all come from the same person or this story is tragic by nature. That assumption might not coincide with a proper sociological research study but I make my mind based on my own emotions. Recycled, for instance, involved a great deal with work in sorting through half a million photos from this recycling plant in Beijing. I had to be arbitrary and assumed that the photos all came from one person or one single family. Under this premise, I was able to nish the editing for my short lm.
Li: Do you leave clues in your narrative? Can you tell us a bit more about the “one single family” that you just mentioned? Does it come from somewhere?
Lei: I believe that the clues in my narrative originate from my instincts and from the impact these archives had on me. First, I only began creating the narrative after having gone through a large chunk of these archives, so the clues within my narrative have a very close relationship with the archives. In
the case of the “one single family” in Recycled, like I said earlier, it was a highly arbitrary decision without any speci c reasons. Yet, that decision also originated in these archives, as we kept seeing the same family over and over again in these negatives. Thomas Sauvin and I witnessed this family going traveling, watching TV and taking photos of their fridge. So the idea of this “one single family” came from these archives. Even though my judgment or the clues seemed very arbitrary, I would say I highly respected the archives I studied.
I would not digitize these archives when trying to make sense of them; instead, I would romanticize them all the more. The feelings that they brought me—whether it was a sense of provocation or inspiration—I would inject back into my creative process. In the case of the animation Recycled, I was showing 10 photos per second and that massive quantity was how I felt about the archives, as they gave me that sinking feeling. Half a million photos from that recycling plant in Beijing were dumped into the garbage bin. I tried to preserve that kind of sinking feeling when making the exhibition and the short film. I managed to keep that kind of enormous pressure and noise in the videos and on the site of the exhibition.
Lei: Can you ask a question?
Lei: In the case of Poet on a Business Trip by Ju Anqi, the shooting and editing of the film took a long time to nish and that also created a video archive, in my view. Poetry seemed to have become the thread holding the film together. I would like to ask your opinion on “archive” and “clues” or “threads”.
Li: For my new work Video Poetry, I derive clues from my treatment of the source materials. The clues and the source materials aren’t directly linked; it’s more like the ambience and the movement of images.
Lei: Every artist might have a different view on clues; it’s rather delicate. I remember we watched a lm called Ascent by the artist Fiona Tan at Locarno Film Festival. She used a huge amount of footage of Mount Fuji for a lm that lasted 80 minutes. I had goose bumps after seeing it and found it fascinating.
Li: Sometimes I would wonder why something is art and something else is not considered so. Then, I would pick ones that are meant to be chosen. What you just mentioned seems to be close to abandoned materials—abandoned negatives and reconstructed stories. These abandoned negatives have become a main part of your work.
Lei: Yes, I agree. But that also raises another question: what’s the role of the artist in the face of these source materials? With Recycled, perhaps what I did was to sort through the abandoned negatives whereas in Hand Colored, I did try to come up with a database. The database was ctional and I tried different threads to bring everything together. As for the family documentary I am working on, I would also like to ctionalize certain elements because I can’t acquire a lot of the materials in real life, so I decide on making them with playdough. In essence, I replaced some of the missing archives with manual labor.
Like a librarian, I don’t just collect and put stuff into the library but also change things up in the library sometimes or scribble in the books—so people visiting would feel comfortable or skeptical with the surroundings. Yes, I also plant plenty of tricks in my work. For instance in the recent work Books on Books and the family documentary project, I flipped through many issues of China Pictorial and went to a second-hand market in Germany to collect old photos and old magazines. I also went to Jiangxi and Ningdu to do some recording. Perhaps I might come across as trying to seek truth or evidence, but in fact I would use the technique of ctionalization, which is similar to mythology, to revamp these archives or even use fabricated archives.
Li: How can you tell what is true or not? How do you deal with ction and fact? How do you deal with the ambiguity of art?
Lei: This is fascinating! I believe we have touched upon a great topic. In the case of the family documentary that I have been working on, I went to Jiangxi in search of some archives and we did some sound recording there. We also went to the museum looking for old memories. What we encountered was that everyone was trying to prove what they said was true, whether they were government-backed institutions or private citizens. Inside their museum, we saw many objects or historical documents that support their version of the history. Even the individuals that we shot for the documentary claimed, “It was like that back then” and yet there were discrepancies in what everyone said.
So who represents the truth? Who is making things up? Was it the individual, or the government? I believe there is no answer to these questions. What interests me the most as an artist is to nd my own spot in the middle of this ambiguous or obscure zone. Like the space I mentioned earlier, I have a complete system to help me navigate and narrate the history of this period. Even though I have stated clearly that this is ctional, it can also be true. Within my creative process, however, the narrative is complete; it is truer than truth and more ctional than ction.
Li: Regarding truth, that is something we always have to address. The job of an artist is to pass on a relationship at a particular moment. Sometimes it is not even a story or a narrative; it can be the maneuver of certain images or blurred memory and that can generate sympathy in people.
Lei: Yes. In my earlier responses, I seem to emphasize story and narrative a lot and that probably has to do with the fact that I always employ images as language. Hence my work depends heavily on story and narrative. But like you just said, certain maneuver of the image or memory can also generate empathy; it doesn’t have to be a story to have this sort of impact.
Li: Artists not only output content but also receive like a vessel.
Lei: This reminds me of the various manners and conditions independent animations are viewed. If they are screened inside a cinema, the artist acts as an agent of output whereas the audience receives passively. If the independent animation is shown inside an exhibition hall, or as you just mentioned, inside a space, the artist not only outputs but he/she also receives like a vessel.
Li: Screenings and lms, the presentation of art and space, the means of narration and listening— these can all be considered as two sides of the creative process. Originally art becomes art through context. Whether one produces or creates art is not that important; what matters is finding the appropriate context and space to go along with it.
Lei: Going back to independent animation and lmmaking, they do have a rather close relationship with production. Sometimes I feel that their contexts are being limited. Most of the time the screening of independent animation depends on the screening routine of a cinema or a lm festival. Of course, on the one hand that might appear to be a constraint on the artist; on the other hand, I believe it can also become a battle eld for the artist, a type of game or tool that the artist can utilize.
Li: I think so too.
Lei: The context of cinema is a context or space that has already been clearly de ned and decided. Some artists, however, can turn this space into their performance venues. I had nowhere to go by Douglas Gordon comes to my mind. That was truly an impressive piece of work.