Daniel Shawna Shi Yin
“Ghost of Asia”
Christelle Lheureux, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Ghost of Asia is a celebration of living and of pleasures. Made right after the 2004 tsunami that killed thousands of Thais, the filmmakers imagine a ghost who still lives and wanders around the seashores. At a Thai island, they engage in conversation with children – two boys and a girl- that dictate tasks to be performed by an actor. The film is structured according to the kids’ real-time direction pattern. The actor became their simulated life, their projection of possible things one can do.
Significance of using children as ‘dictators’: Children are more spontaneous, expressive, and uninhibited- their imagination is also more vivid, and hence, they are able to generate more possibilities. This falls in place with the spirit of the film that attempts to depict and suggest what could have been.
another possible interpretation of the film – suggested by CHARISSE (HELLO!!)
the manner in which the children dictates the actions of the ghost seems to bring up the whole idea of control. The man seems to be extremely subordinate to the demands of the children who seem to just be carelessly throwing out any random thoughts and orders in their head. The sped up nature of the film only enhances the flustered and hasty manner in which he rushes to do as he is told. Charisse thinks that this might be a reflection of the general nature of video art and how it is filmed, whereby the actors are subject to the orders and demands of the filmmaker/ artist.
1. What essentially characterised Video art?
- Added dimension of time
- Sound (soundtrack etc)
- Not necessarily following a specific narrative or plot; can be used simply to illustrate a certain concept of the artists’
- Temporal, intangible state: video art is essentially viewed through the medium light, which is transient
- Reproducible; the same work of art can be at many locations at the same time
- Associated with the television and hence the concept of entertainment, usually made accessible to a mass audience
- also highly dependent on certain conditions to exist; for example electricity. this relates strongly to the human condition and the transiency of life.
2. What advantage does video offers over other representation art forms?
- ‘Authenticity’. Video art can be an extremely literal form of art that projects real life images to the audience. In other words, its form of representation can mimic exactly what reality looks like. In this instance, the audience are confronted with a situation made up of actual people leading their lives in this existing land (thailand). Its rawness, lack of scripting (children were left in their natural environment eg. sitting in the dirt, saying things freely as they came to them) and low-bit quality (another element of film-making) further contribute to sincerity of this film.
- Video art is able to engage a wider range of senses like sound, making a greater impact on the audience. Manipulation of music and time that creates certain special effect on the audience (eg. CGI) In the case of this particular piece, each of these elements play a significant role in enhancing it’s ‘ghostly feel. The eerie sounds produced by electronic music are incorporated to create an otherwordly ambience, and the insistence of sped up visuals give an indication to the viewer that there is something warped about the sense of time, and subsequently, unnatural about the entire set up. These aspects of filmmaking are cleverly utilised by Christelle Lheureux and Apichatpong Weerasethakul to add that surrealistic edge to their piece, tying in with their aim of creating a work that points out exactly the possibilities that could have been, but were never fully materialized in reality. Just as the word “ghost” in the title suggests, the main subject of their video art is in fact only half-existing and never fully concrete.
- Images in video art can also be distorted (for example using magnets, or by projecting the image in a size different from that seen in reality)
- Bizarre juxtaposition of various images and scenarios: (children in real time and ‘ghost’ in non-real time) adding on to surrealistic mood of the film
- Also, in video art, two different clips can be played simultaenously to create a unique relationship that further contributes to the meaning of the work. In this case, the film in which the children dictate the ghost and the film in which the ghost carries out his orders are played seperately, in a manner whereby both clips have a dialogue with each other in that the children are controlling the actions of the ghost and are hence “directing” the other film.
- the set-up and use of space in video art also allows the artist to decide how he wants his work to be viewed, and this in turn influences our understanding and perception of the work. For example, the films were projected onto two large screens opposite of one another, with a comfortable mattress laid in between the space filled with pillows.