Composition: innocence; reflection; fire; and chance
2017
Video projection installation
Music composed and produced by Andrew Zhou
22:23 minutes

Composition is a 22:23 minute video projection installation with music composed and produced by Andrew Zhou.

The video sequences in Composition are: innocence; reflection; fire; and chance. 

The main character in Composition is the yarrow stalks. They represent me. I chose yarrow stalks for two reasons. First, my view aligns with the Taoist thought that human beings are wooden. That is, we belong to the earth, and are shapeless, but can be shaped into any form. Secondly, since my childhood, I have always consulted the ancient Chinese divination text,
I Ching, to see my fortune or misfortune. Using yarrow stalks is one method of consultation I Ching. In recent years, through my research, I discovered that one’s unconsciousness is closely connected to I Ching.

I attempt to use fragments of memories, experiences, music, and silence to conduct a non-verbal communication with audience. 

Composition seeks to understand psychological relationships between the performer and the music. Both the performer and music have individual existences, but when they are together, like yin and yang, one cannot exist without the other. 

Innocence portrays a path leading into a forest in the background and a swing in the foreground. As a child, I spent a lot of time on swings and wandering freely, despite the chaotic political state and economical failure in China. As I grew older, opportunities arose. I took on some challenges. As the swing went high, it became more dangerous and unstable. Many times, I fell down. However, I do not intend to comment about failure. Rather, it is about recognising which ride to take. I am always seeking guidance as an artist. 

The film features a blank screen for 30 seconds with a solo viola and a distant string ensemble that attempts to, in one breath, exceed the limits of their bows, allowing the audience to see beyond.

Reflection is a water scene that starts with me drowning. However, it is in the nature of water to nourish all things. I start to enjoy floating and pondering life, including the playfulness of it in the darkness.  

The music produces a cinematic effect of colour and narrative on the change of light and shadow.

Fire exposes my experiences of dealing with grief, loss, and passion. While keeping the fire burning, the harsh synthesisers and percussion build a climax that elicits implications that may be inaccessible visually. The whole orchestra starts playing after the fire when the rain comes down. The body has transcended and moves towards the spirits, infinity and the cosmos. The shadow becomes the new existence.

Chance depicts my performance of sorting the yarrow stalks, accompanied by a string quartet. I conducted three procedures. In the black scenes, the numbers of my I Ching hexagrams, generated by the manipulation of the yarrow stalks, are represented by the rhythm of the musical stabs. Although the act is random, just like life, I wonder if my fate is in my hands. For this reason, I reversed the second sorting in the film to reveal the numerous probabilities.  I question that if I could choose what I become. At the end, the quartet prolongs a chord unwilling to resolve for 24 seconds on blank screen foreshadowing new possibilities.

Musical analysis by Andrew Zhou

Missing Exhibition
Margaret Whitlam Galleries, Western Sydney University

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