The main concept behind the works is the use of music and interpretation, along with the idea of reactions and sensations for the viewer. I have always been interested in making music, especially on piano and guitar. The works have centred on me as the main character, as this is a personal journey I have taken from Western music through to cultures that I had not previously explored.
Much of the work is presented through video, as this was the best way to communicate ideas and themes of performances. The guitar performance was based on my love of music, and the use of space and character, inspired by Vanessa Beecroft (Beecroft, 2017). This bought about the uncomfortable sensations for the audience, and the sense of unconventionality with the audience and me sitting in an art department, singing. This then led me into the works of John Smith (Smith, 1976), who captures the everyday movements people, and the making of Untitled [Singing film], whereupon people were filmed singing their favourite song in unconventional places.
Culture was then an influence upon the works as I looked into the makings of Chinese opera. Those such as Mulan Psalm (Mulan Psalm, 2008), Butterfly Fairy Tale (Butterfly Fairy Tale, 2015) and The Drunken Concubine (Drunken Beauty, 2013) heavily influenced me as I then produced my own opera in the spoken word. Masks in Chinese opera are specifically designed for each character, which colours and lines having a distinct meaning including white for treachery and yellow for ambitious (Ark, 2014). The design of my own masks reflects these meanings for each character, with my own characters having the characteristics of loyalty and ambition, painted in accordance of these rules. In the initial videos, Sylvie Fleury was a large influence as the speaker determined the character, much like in her work where the music determines this (Fleury, 2014).
Themes within Chinese music and opera include that of romanticism, manipulation and mistaken identity. The creation of the spoken word came from the appropriation of lyrics from songs including Zui Lang Man De Shi (The Most Romantic Thing) (Chao, 2012) and operas such as The Old Man in the Moonlight (“The Old Man in the Moonlight”, n.d.). Each of these contained the aforementioned themes and was individually performed to. Through these scenes, I wanted to create the sensation that the viewer was walking into something that felt personal, such like the earlier performance. This was inspired by scenes within The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid (“The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid”, n.d.) and The Old Man in the Moonlight (“The Old Man in the Moonlight”, n.d.), both Cantonese operas.
During the progression of these films it was found that there was little connection to the original theme of music, and the visual aspects of Chinese opera. With the inspiration of the operas Butterfly Fairy Tale (Butterfly Fairy Tale, 2015), English Monkey King (English Monkey King, 2015) and Lady White Snake (The Tale of the White Snake, 2014), traditional Chinese music and clips were introduced to my interpretation of Chinese opera, with the themes of personal romance and music. Moonlight Cord is displayed in a dark space for practicality and the sense of walking in to something personal.
Ark, N. (2014). Beijing Opera Masks – Meaning of Colors Used in Masks. Nouahsark.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017, from http://www.nouahsark.com/en/infocenter/culture/art/opera_masks/meaning.php
Beecroft, V. (2017). VB84. Florence: Uffizi. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u49cjqsUP-o&t=4s
Butterfly Fairy Tale. (2015). China. Retrieved 20 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plzcn2MbAfM
Chao, C. (2012). Zui Lang Man De Shi. Retrieved 12 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmeM46a3IDc
Drunken Beauty. (2013). Retrieved 02 November 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvE8cDVBi3I
English Monkey King. (2015). Retrieved 20 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=488&v=DFW5Ut-OIco
Fleury, S. (2014). Camino del Sol. Paris: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Retrieved 15 October 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn0wrbVtAqQ
Mulan Psalm. (2008). Wiener State Opera. Retrieved 2 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWMB74odD5U&t=269s
Smith, J. (1976). The Girl Chewing Gum. Tate. Retrieved 30 October 2017, from http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/john-smith-girl-chewing-gum
The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid. Jordan: Popular Chinese Stories. Retrieved 13 November 2017, from http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/cgi-bin/chopera.pl?taleid=Story211
The Old Man in the Moonlight. Jordan: Popular Chinese Stories. Retrieved 13 November 2017, from http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/cgi-bin/chopera.pl?taleid=Story026
The Tale of the White Snake. (2014). Retrieved 20 November 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIB0N6ZkoGI