Youth Meets Film: Issue 4, 2015

3 December 2015

Moving Image Artists in Cinema

By Gabriel Goh

What is the difference between a filmmaker and an artist? For that matter, what are the similarities that have blurred these lines? In the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition, only two “directors” have identified themselves as multidisciplinary artists rather than filmmakers in their respective biographies. Prapat Jiwarangsan and Jan Pineda have given us an eclectic mix of films as seen in The Asylum and Memorial of an Inquiry respectively. Why do they identify themselves firstly as artists?

The Asylum (Dok-Rak)3

Southeast Asian filmmakers and artists have successfully harnessed the wave of digital media in the 1990s to produce works that have since been canonized into art and film history. Early mentors such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul have successfully negotiated the “in-betweenness” between formal structures of the multiplex and the art gallery to express fluid artistic concepts. It is in my personal journey that I attempt to understand the motivations and methods from which artists in Southeast Asia have approached film and video, and their relevant infrastructures of presentation. Forging a creative translocality in Southeast Asia, how have these fluid networks of filmmaking and artmaking blur the in-between? The margins of acceptance between what is considered video art and cinema creates a liminal creative space, which transcends the national borders of Southeast Asia. I would say I have just begun this journey: of questions rather than answers. Like clues to the treasure chest, I map my way.

The following is an excerpt of my discussion with the assiduous Prapat Jiwarangsan.

Do you consider yourself as a visual artist or filmmaker (or both)?

I consider myself a multidisciplinary artist.

Where has the film been presented? Film festivals or galleries?

Normally I present my video arts in a gallery. But this year I try a new thing by submitting my film to film festivals.

Why use moving images to articulate your concept? Is there something particular of moving image medium or have you explored other artistic methods? (i.e installation art, performance etc)

At first Dok-Rak (The Asylum) was conceived as a part of my show, which will be exhibited in Bangkok in April 2016. In the exhibition, I use many medium, including photographs and letters. At first I wanted to make Dok-Rak as a video art than a film. However, in the editing process, I saw that there was a possibility that the film could ‘transgress’ and situated in both worlds: film and art. Why? Because the film has a narrative, though fragmented. It also has an ‘actor’, though not in a traditional sense of the word. In addition, the moving image, as a medium, allows me to show the emotion of the people and space, in which I’m not sure whether another medium can show people’s emotion this way.

Why do you choose to show your work in a single screen cinema rather than a multi-screen format in a gallery?

Even in a gallery space, I want to show this film as a single screen too. I think the film is strong enough. It can solely stay in space, without any help or distraction from other screens.

What does the medium of a Short mean to your artistic practice?

I’m not sure if I think of the idea of shortness prior to making this film. I think my film is not short or long, but it’s ‘right’. We shouldn’t feel that the work is too short, or too long, don’t we? It’s about the selection of which images fit most with our idea. In some works, we may need many medium and temporality in order to communicate our idea. But for this work, I think it’s better to present it with this amount of time, and with this medium.

Why do you choose the cinema infrastructure to display this work?

For this film (Dok-Rak), possibly, because I see that the work is strong enough to be a stand-alone piece. It does not need other work to help it to be a part of a collection. In addition, I want to explore the thin line between art and film. I wanna know where is the line, and who or what creates these lines. Can I jump back and forth across the line? Can I stand on the line without bending on one side? Who has the right to say my work is a video art, not a film, or vice versa? And what are the reasons they support their arguments?

Are you concerned with the context from which the audience view your works? Because the cinema theater can be very different from an independent art space?

An influential artist, whom I have a high respect to, once said to me “if an airplane is falling, who will you put an oxygen mask first, yourself or others?” I think you may find an answer in this sentence.

How have you negotiated the funding structures between cinemas/film festivals and art spaces?

This is a self-funded film. It didn’t cost me much. Truthfully, I don’t know much about film funding, or how do filmmakers look for the grant. I just think that it would be good if this film travels to many countries. One good thing of a film infrastructure is that film travels the world easier than another art form. If I’m lucky, in that my film goes to many places, then I will wait for the feedback and see if the feedback could open a new possibility to me.