Jockey Club InnoArts Series 2022
Shuffle Dimensions is produced by notable new media artist Keith Lam, Hong Kong composer Alain Chiu and Cong Quartet. The musical film is one of a kind, capturing Lam’s unique, musical performative installation featuring robotic arms, animation and Lidar elements, presenting Cong Quartet in a new light as they perform Chiu’s recent piece Fundamental Differences and George Crumb's monumental work Black Angels. Chiu also collected biometric data from the Cong Quartet members, as well as Hong Kong’s environmental data from several historical moments, skilfully transforming raw data into music. Percussion instruments such as maracas, tam-tams and water-tuned crystal glasses were also used to accompany the string sections in Black Angels' distinct movements of Devil-music and God-music. Within these shuffled black-and-white dimensions, you will find flowing music and a feast for the eyes.
An Era of Merged Realities and Hyperrealities
Composed by George Crumb in 1970, Black Angels is subtitled “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land”. The concept of Black Angels revolves around the fallen angels. Among them, the most notable is Lucifer, who committed the Sin of Pride in the Seven Deadly Sins, challenging the authority of God, and being banished from heaven. Creating a world like heaven in hell, he becomes Satan, the prince of darkness. The 13 images depict the emotional journey of wandering souls: their disappointment at losing gifts from the divine, their absence due to the destruction of their souls, and their comeback after redemption. Crumb saw this work as a metaphor for a world in turmoil, since it was composed during the Vietnam War.
The world in the year 2022 is still afflicted by ongoing wars and another dimension is now being grandly presented. The metaverse is becoming an independent simulation, projecting real images; imitating and distorting truths; faking reality; and deviating from truth and reality. Artificial intelligence is being self-built through machine learning, with the machine developing and duplicating its own consciousness. A purely simulated universe is laid over a reality that is not questioned by humans, creating a hyperreality—a “reality” more realistic than actual reality. The bright future promised by the metaverse will in fact leave us disoriented in the blurred boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. Will the dimensions we are situated in eventually be replaced by hyperreality, which is boundless, unspecified and lacking any origins?
The cycle of the Black Angels—their departure and return—never ends in the hyperreal dimension, reoccurring in reincarnation. We become muddled in this hyperreality between the real and virtual dimensions, imposing social order in a city of simulacra overshadowing reality.
Shuffle Dimensions was originally scheduled to be performed in March this year. It was an eagerly anticipated performance, being my first cross-disciplinary production in collaboration with an orchestra. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Since then, our discussions and the preparation processes were conducted amid several waves of the coronavirus. As we conduct online and offline meetings, hold rehearsals, start production, cancel plans, film, edit and begin post-production, meeting each other over computer screens, sometimes we get confused about reality and virtuality in the merged real-world and online environment. How can one be sure that we are actually talking to a real person online? How can one verify facts about the world being circulated through the web without travelling?
Shuffle Dimensions aspires to illustrate the existence of a mixed reality, a post-pandemic actuality people have been experiencing during the past few years.
The production initially involved the use of an installation and a live performance, in the hope of placing the audience within a mixed reality. Since it was cancelled due to the pandemic, it is now presented through a film. However, can this format for public viewing replace the face-to-face experience? This is a question I kept asking after the performance was cancelled. I came to the inescapable conclusion that the face-to-face experience is irreplaceable. Since screens cannot ever be a substitute for the stage, we could not document Shuffle Dimensions simply by filming and editing a perfect performance. Instead, short films narrate our process of production, much like a music video or an experimental film. Therefore, we produced Shuffle Dimensions twice during this period, resulting in two completely different versions.
People are now accustomed to living in shuffled dimensions, so how should they approach the blurred lines between fact and fiction in this hyperreal world?
Violin - Francis Chik
Violin - Chow Yip-wai
Viola - Evan Robinson
Cello - Cheng Yan-ho
Commissioned and produced by the Hong Kong Arts Festival
Shuffle Dimension was part of the 2022 Jockey Club InnoArts Series
Black Angels by George Crumb © 1971. Used with permission by C.F. Peters Corporation. All rights reserved.
All the content of works are independently produced by the organiser/creative team, and do not reflect the views or opinions of the “Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series” nor the Sponsor.
Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series
Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series
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