“萤火连城 FireFlies: The Glowing Dots”首先回应的是艺术季主策展愿景；我们先来谈光，许多人以为谈光就连随说影，这次谈的却是光电，因为媒体艺术里充满着科技科学，不同年代的作品都充斥着这两个元素。光与电是大自然送给人类的两件大礼，两者均在人类历史发展中担当重要的角色。光来自遥远的太阳，也有的是源自星星，而电呢？则来自地球本身，是一种物理现象，在大自然里它可以造就许多效应，包括闪电、静电感应、摩擦起电等。有光万物才会被看见，用电就可以让人们有机会改变世界，把讯息与能量输送至世界每个角落，是故光与电的分不开就像媒体艺术里结合科学科技与艺术创意一样，相互影响而密不可分。录像艺术之父白南准 (Nam June Paik) 在七十年代曾说过：
“Without Electricity, there can be no art”
- 这下子我们不难理解如何从光与电这度大门走进媒体艺术的世界里面。那当我们要谈媒体艺术也就必定要看两个面向，一个是时代历史的发展，影响的是艺术精神，另一个是媒体考古，透过科技科学发展媒体是如何进步与改变，两者合二为一就可以多少窥探到媒体艺术的一二。简易略述，二十年代的达达主义 (Dadaism) 携带着的反传统(艺术)精神流远地影响着那时代的创作人，跨媒介的实验开始，画家可以拍摄、照相的可以做雕塑，及后其影响延伸并深入至六、七年代激流派艺术家 (Fluxus) 的创作上，他们相互合作，创作出更多由跨界别而来的可能性，而这正正也是媒体艺术发展重要的时刻。回顾香港的媒体艺术发展，这些源自国际媒体艺术版图上的影响，不难发现很快就被在地体现，当时有许多实验及媒体艺术组织、活动都是从八十年代开始在香港本地成立及发展。后来随着九十年代电脑及互联网普及，以及传讯科技的高速发展，媒体艺术更百花盛放，在全球各地以不同形式分支发展，由学术到商业应用，似乎已能全方位渗透人们的生活。
继续回到名号‘萤火连城 FireFlies: The Glowing Dots’，谈完光电就是谈连城概念；在 2005 年，苹果 (Apple) 的创始人贾柏斯 (Steve Jobs) 在史丹福大学的毕业礼演讲，里面提到关于连点 (Connecting the Dots) 的小故事：
- Features Cityscapes Shifting Between Days And Nights. The Worldly Flames And Fumes Are Like Glowing Dots, Illuminating And Constituting The World Each In Their Own Way. As Long As There Is Light, There Are People; As Long As There Are People, There Are Cities; And As Long As There Are Cities, There Are Cityscapes.
It is rather rare to begin a curatorial statement with explaining the exhibition title, as an understanding of the research background and of the subject of inquiry is a prerequisite for grasping the details and origin of the title. This time, however, let me start by deciphering the title and the delicate details packed in it, and usher the public into the world of media art as well as Hong Kong media art through three different sayings.
“Fireflies: The Glowing Dots” addresses the major curatorial vision of the whole festival first and foremost. Let’s talk about light; while many expect the talk of light to always comes with that of shadow, we want to talk about light and electricity instead, for the reason that science and technology are everywhere in media art, and these two elements are often found in media artworks of different eras. Light and electricity, two of nature’s greatest gifts to humankind, have played very significant roles in the development of human history. Light comes from the sun, as well as from the stars, but what about electricity? A physical phenomenon of the planet Earth, electricity is responsible for many effects in nature, including lightning, electrostatic induction, triboelectric charging. We cannot see anything without light, just as we cannot change the world or disseminate information or energy across the world without electricity. Light and electricity are therefore as inseparable as the union of science and technology and artistic creativity in media art. They influence and are intertwined with one another. Nam June Paik, the father of video art, once said in the 1970s, “Without electricity, there can be no art.”
- The idea that a world without electricity would be impossible for art allows us to understand how we can set foot in the world of media art through the door of light and electricity. Two aspects must then be looked at in the discussion of media art. One is how the development of history affects the spirit of art, and the second concerns media archaeology — how media progresses and changes over the course of scientific and technological development. The combination of both offers a glimpse into media art. In a nutshell, Dadaism’s revolutionary spirit against traditional artistic values had a profound impact on artists of the 1920s and launched an era of cross-media experiments. Painters could turn to photography; photographers could make sculptures, such influence has become even more prominent and mature in works by Fluxus artists of the 60s and the 70s. They embraced collaborations and endeavoured to explore more inter-sectoral possibilities, creating a monumental moment in the development of media art. In retrospect, the development of media art in Hong Kong saw no lack of these influences from the international media art scene, which were evident in the instantaneous springing up of local experimental and media art groups and activities beginning in the 80s. The proliferation of computers and the internet in the 90s – not to mention the rapid advancement of communication technology – were essential to the blooming of media art in different forms and various corners of the world. From academia to commercial applications, media art appears to have infiltrated people’s lives in every possible way.
Back to the exhibition title “Fireflies: The Glowing Dots”, let’s move on to talk about the glowing dots after discussing light and electricity. In a graduation speech at Stanford University in 2005, Apple founder Steve Jobs mentioned about connecting the dots:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, destiny, life,karma, whatever."一by Steve Jobs
- The concept of “connecting” is of pivotal importance. Like the childhood puzzle game of “connecting the dots”, what seem to be bits and pieces apart grow into a fuller picture by following the guide of number sequencing. It can be a fish or a cat, but the dots would mean nothing when they are not linked to one another. The same applies to working in technology, in science, and in media art. Every work is like an independent dot when viewed individually, and curation is like connecting these dots. When an artist creates with light, shadow and electricity, audience members respond by viewing or interacting with their own media choices. Nine Hong Kong media artists/units are recruited to present the possibilities of inter-sectoral collaborations between technology and art in this exhibition. Some of them explore and document their plans, some create collaborative interactions between different media, some break up Canto-pop songs before reorganising the fragments into online clips with new dynamics. Each exhibit is ladened with details. Once the proposition is brought forth, these individual works are drawn together by a certain force, through curation and organisation, through online dissemination that travels across the world. In another point of view, cities are connected just like the dots... In fact, in a world that is still plagued by the pandemic, where good old days remain far out of sight amid uncertainties, art is the light. If light is one of nature’s most beautiful gifts to humans, then media art is a great present that humans have built and gifted ourselves. Finally, let me conclude with a word of curatorial wish — may we all see the glowing dots of cities connected through the internet and behold the world through media art:
“‘Fireflies: The Glowing Dots’ features cityscapes shifting between days and nights. The worldly flames and fumes are like glowing dots, illuminating and constituting the world each in their own way. As long as there is light, there are people; as long as there are people, there are cities; and as long as there are cities, there are cityscapes.”