Graffiti with Sound and Light: Interview with Mark Lyken
專訪馬克·萊肯


INTERVIEW BY 採訪 X HARRY LIU 劉競晨

TRANSLATED BY 翻譯 X CAI SUDONG 蔡蘇東

IMAGES COURTESY OF 圖片提供 X SONICA 聲音藝術節

 

Mark Lyken is an artist, filmmaker and composer based in rural Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland. Utilizing his gifts as a musician as well as a painter, he now creates observational film, music, and sound works, together with performances and installations that have been presented nationally and internationally. His current work explores the relationships to place and the interplay between nature and culture. This has led to collaborations with artists and scientists, most notably from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences. His film Mirror Lands, which co-directed with Emma Dove, won the Award for Creativity at the IFFEST Documentary Art Festival 2014 in Bucharest and his latest audio-visual commission Oscillon Response premiered in Glasgow at Sonica 2015.

馬克·萊肯是一名藝術家、導演兼作曲家,常駐蘇格蘭的鄧弗里斯-加洛韋一帶。因為早年豐富的音樂和藝術經歷,如今他投身創作觀察性電影,音樂劇和聲音作品,尤其是結合了表演和裝置形式的聲音作品早已享譽國內外。他近期的作品不僅探討了地方環境關係和自然與文化之間的相互作用,更是促進了藝術家和科學家之間的跨界合作,其中最值得關注的就是與亞伯丁大學生物科學學院的合作。此外,他與艾瑪·達夫共同指導的新近電影《鏡地》榮獲了2014年IFFEST紀錄片藝術節的創意大獎;2015年的視聽委任項目《Oscillon示波》也在Sonica聲音藝術節圓滿完成首演。

 

Mark Lyken. Photo by Harry Liu. ©ART.ZIP

 

ART.ZIP: Would you tell us a bit of your background and how did you start your practice?

ML: For 24 years or so I made electronic music and pieces of film as completely separate things. I did an artist residency in the highlands with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, so I worked with ecologists. They had a field station in a place called Cromarty, and they look at the impact of tourism and shipping on the local marine population. As I was interested in sand, I managed to get this amazing residency and go and hang with marine biologists who do lots of underwater recordings. It was an absolute dream and a real turning point for me. They gave me a chance; they saw something in my work, the music that I’d made and the visuals. By that time, I’d moved into doing gallery paintings based on meteorological phenomena. I did a six-month residency with them and after that things kind of snowballed.

ART.ZIP: 請您介紹一下您的創作背景,以及您是怎樣開始創作生涯的?

ML: 24年以來我一直在創作電子音樂,同時拍一些電影,我視為完全獨立的兩件事情在做。我曾經在阿伯丁大學的生物科學學院參加過藝術家駐留項目,那時我和生態學家共事。他們在一個叫克羅馬蒂(Cromarty)的地方有一個野外觀測站,用於觀測旅遊和船運對當地海洋種群的影響。由於我對沙有著濃厚的興趣,我便設法參加了這個項目,並和海洋生物學家一起工作,他們錄制了很多水下素材。這段經歷對我而言是夢幻般的,同時也是我的轉折點。他們給了我契機,也正是他們發掘出我的作品(包括音樂和影像作品)中獨特的東西。從那時起,我已經開始創作與氣象現象有關的畫作了。我和他們共事了六個月,在那之後,一切就如同滾雪球般壯大起來了。

 

ART.ZIP: What do you think is the common theme throughout your work? What’s your focus?

ML: It’s mostly about sound. I’m also interested in people’s relationship to place. Why people are there, what they feel about it and then interviewing the next person. Their relationship to their town, city or village is completely different to the person living next door. So I’m really interested in those stories. I’m interested in small and big. I think there’s real poetry there.

ART.ZIP: 您認為貫穿您所有作品的主題是什麽?您的側重點是什麽?

ML: 我的大多數作品是關於聲音的。我還對人們和處所之間的關係有著濃厚的興趣。我會問人們去到某個地方的原因,那個地方帶給他們的感受,然後一個人緊接著一個地詢問。人們對於自己和城鎮、城市或者鄉村的關係的看法與他們的鄰居的看法完全不同。我對這些故事非常感興趣,無論故事輕重。我覺得這裡面有真正的詩意存在。

ART.ZIP: For your performance Oscillon Response, you used the same machine to produce the work, but the original data is lost. What’s the story?

ML: Yes, it’s an oscilloscope, from the 1950’s, completely analogue; the trace patterns are on the screen. You feed sound in, you see the patterns and then it’s gone. Ben Laposky, who made the original Oscillons, would photograph them with high-speed film and freeze those moments in time. When I came to do it, essentially I did the same thing. I had a really good camera, but with a low-tech solution. I had a black material hood over the oscilloscope and me and I was just filming. I had a modular synthesizer, so I had modules feeding sound into the oscilloscope. It’s a digital transfer of an analogue process. I was essentially using the same process as Laposky and I took all that raw footage and then edited it digitally. I treated it like it was film, I wanted there to be some kind of narrative and structure.

I’m really interested in mixing those two worlds: analogue and digital. I made digital work for a long time and I felt I was missing that tangible connection. With the music as well, I started to get back to using synthesizers, things that I could touch, which I think is really important. I think there’s a disconnection with digital, so I wanted to be able to engage with it in a tactile way.

ART.ZIP: 在《示波反應(Oscillon Response)》現場表演中,您使用了當初創作時的同一套設備,但原始數據卻丟失了。這其中的來龍去脈是怎樣的?

ML: 是的,那是一臺1950年代的示波器(一種能夠顯示電壓信號動態波形的電子測量儀器),完全采用模擬信號;軌跡圖像顯示在屏幕上。你接入一個聲音,就可以看到圖像,然後圖像轉瞬即逝。示波的原創者本·拉博斯基(Ben Laposky)會用高速膠片把圖像拍下來。而我也采用同樣的方法。我有一臺非常好的相機,但使用方法幾乎沒有技術含量——就是用黑色的罩子罩住示波器和自己,然後開始拍照。我也有一台模塊化合成器,因此我能用模組給示波器輸入聲音,換句話說,我把模擬信號數字化了。我和拉博斯基的制作過程是一樣的,我收集了所有的底片,然後進行數字化編輯。我把它當作電影來對待,我想讓作品有一點敘事性和結構性。

我非常熱衷於將這兩個世界融合在一起:模擬世界和數字世界。我創作數字作品已經有很長時間了,我覺得我開始懷念(模擬手段)那種看得見摸得著的聯繫。這在音樂上也一樣,我開始重新使用合成器,這是我能觸摸到的東西,這是很重要的一點。我覺得數字手段缺乏真實的聯繫,因此,我希望用可觸的辦法進行數字化創作。

ART.ZIP: What do you think digital art is? Is there a way to describe such a large field?

ML: I think it’s like anything else. It’s a medium, another set of tools to produce work. Whether it’s a brush, camera or a mouse, it’s all to do with taste, your aesthetic sensibility. For me personally, I like to be able to introduce a tactile element, but everything we do, even if it’s an analogue process, is recorded digitally, and you can’t escape that. It’s just numbers, 0’s and 1’s, it’s a way of capturing that data.

ART.ZIP: 您覺得數字藝術是什麽?有沒有一種方法可以描述如此寬泛的領域?

ML: 我覺得這就和別的東西一樣。這是用來創作的一種媒介,一套新的工具。不管用的是畫筆、照相機還是鼠標,最重要的還是你的品味和審美情趣。對我個人而言,我希望能夠引入一點可觸性的元素,但是,我們做的任何事情,就算是模擬信號的東西都是用數字的方法錄制下來的,這是沒法逃避的。我們有的只有數字,0和1,這就是獲取數據的方法。

 

ART.ZIP: Why do you have a digital methodology in your work?

ML: Again, because it’s an accessible tool and it’s what I grew up with. I’m 42 and when I was growing up both my parents worked for a company called Timex, and the factory in the town where I lived made the ZX Spectrum computers in the early ‘80’s. So we all had these computers. Those computers didn’t do anything unless you programmed them, so we all had a little understanding of programming, and we all grew up with computers, from a really early age. I had my first computer in1982, and that’s kind of incredible.

That kind of digital way feels natural. The thing about those computers was that you could open them up and repair them, because they were quite simple, so you had that hands-on feel. My parents made them, so I knew what was inside them.

ART.ZIP: 您的作品中為何充滿數字手段?

ML: 因為數字手段是一種唾手可得的工具,我從小就和它打交道。我現在42歲,小時候我的父母在一家名為泰梅克斯(Timex)的公司上班,而旗下的工廠在1980年代前期就開始制造ZX Spectrum計算機。所以我們那時就都有電腦了。那時候的電腦需要你給它們設置程序,否則它們什麽都做不了,所以我們從小就對編程有所了解,而且可以說是和計算機一起長大的。我在1982年就有了第一臺電腦,這是挺不可思議的事情。

和數字工具打交道對我來說是很自然的事情。因為那些電腦是很簡單的,所以我們可以自己打開電腦修理,這樣我們就有親自上手的熟悉感。我的父母就是制造這些電腦的,所以電腦內部的情況我們是很清楚的。

 

ART.ZIP: There is, perhaps, a criticism that a new generation of digital artists cares more about the aesthetics of a work rather than a concept behind it. They are busy chasing the new effect. What do you think?

ML: I think it’s like anything. It is quite exciting, but the last thing you want to do is to make work that follows any kind of fashion because it’s going to date. It’s like when lens flare came out, now you look at advertising from the ‘90’s and everything has lens flare, it’s just horrible. Personally, I like to use the technology in the same way as if I was cutting actual film or tape. I like to use digital tools in the same way as if I was doing an analogue process. It’s just much easier, that’s why I use it. You can have everything in your bag that you need. There’s no reason to be scared of that. I think it’s crazy that people would regard it as any different. It’s all about output, that’s the problem with digital art. It’s printed out; people have a problem with that process as if it’s just a poster. It’s a really strange thing.

ART.ZIP: 現在或許有這樣一種批評,即新一代的數字藝術家們更關心作品的美學而非其背後的概念。他們總是忙於追求新的效果。您對此怎麽看?

ML: 這和別的東西一樣。數字藝術是令人興奮的,但你最不想做的就是創作模仿別人的作品,因為這很快就會過時。這就像眩光的使用一樣。現在你看看1990年代的廣告,到處都用了眩光,這太恐怖了。從我自己的角度來看,我希望像剪輯真實的膠片和磁帶那樣使用新技術。我希望像使用模擬手段那樣使用數字工具。只不過後者更簡單,所以我才用它。你需要什麽,就使用什麽,沒有必要對此驚恐。我覺得人們把“數字”當作什麽截然不同的東西是很沒道理的。數字藝術的問題在於它的產出。數字作品的產出太快了,像打印海報一樣容易,人們對此很難接受。這真的是很驚異的事情。

 

ART.ZIP: What do you think the relationship is between art and technology? Is technology just for bringing out the new tools, or is it changing the field of art?

ML: I think they can’t help but feed of one another. It’s like a loop. You use the tools, and then maybe use them in a different way that the programmer intended. People drive it forward. People will always, and rightly so, use the tools incorrectly. You’ll use the application in a way that the programmer never intended, and that’s good because that’s humanity.

ART.ZIP: 您認為藝術和技術之間有何關係?技術只是帶來了新工具嗎?還是它改變了藝術的範疇?

ML:我認為這兩者是不自主地相互扶持吧,這就像一個怪圈。你使用一種工具的方法卻可能不是制造者們所原先設想的。人們總是推動著一切前進。人們總是會,而且有正當的理由,用“錯誤”的方法使用工具。你總會用編程人員不曾設想過的方式使用某種應用工具,這是一件好事,因為這就是人性。

 

ART.ZIP: You’re also influenced by Graffiti culture…

ML: Graffiti teaches you. You go into places that you really shouldn’t be and you size them up, you regard them differently, as a canvas. It makes you really good at interacting with spaces. So there are lots of lessons that I took from graffiti. When I go into a room, I might not think of it in terms of painting any more, but I think of it in terms of what I could do with it. We’re in this room now and I can hear the echo and I’m thinking how I could work with the space. The graffiti thing is really interesting. It teaches you to be bold. I like to make work that is quite quiet and reflective. When you’re painting places, as a graffiti artist, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, you have to be quite quiet. You meet some interesting, often quite scary characters in these places. I was never into mass acts of vandalism, I like to find an abandoned place and try and work with it as harmoniously as you can be. I then decided that, after so many years of using spray paint, it was starting to affect my health. Particularly in the ‘80’s when it was car paint, now it’s formulated. I still do mural works from time to time, but it’s more with emulsions, acrylics and things. As I do more and more of these environmental projects, I can’t be spraying.

ART.ZIP: 塗鴉文化也對您有著影響……

ML: 從塗鴉那兒能學到不少。你去那些本不該去的地方,然後像對待大畫布一樣打量空間的大小。這種經歷讓你特別善於與空間互動。所以從塗鴉那裡我學到不少東西。當我進入一個房間,我可能就不再以繪畫的方式考慮它了,我會考慮我能對它做些什麽。例如我們現在所在的房間,我能聽到回聲,我正在考慮可以怎樣處理這個空間。塗鴉是很有意思的東西,它讓你變得大膽。我喜歡創作安靜而充滿反思意味的作品。作為塗鴉藝術家,當進行創作的時候,你不太會關注自己,而是讓自己變得非常安靜。在這些地方,你通常會遇到有趣,有時甚至可怕的人。我從不喜歡破壞性的大眾行為,我喜歡去找一些廢棄的場所,然後與其盡可能和諧共處。我後來發現,使用噴漆這麽多年已經影響了我的健康。特別是在1980年代,那時我們用的是車漆,而現在用的是配制漆。我時不時還是會創作一些壁畫,但用得更多的是乳膠和丙烯顏料等等。後來隨著我參與了越來越多的環保項目,我就不再用噴漆了。

 

ART.ZIP: Do you have any upcoming or recently completed projects?

ML: The Oscillon Response, it’s brand new. I’ve been working on that for about six months, well for a year actually, but six months full-time. So beyond that, I’ve developed a feature film, my first foray into drama, so it’s a scripted work. I have a producer and a screenwriter and we’re working on a project that’s called Out of the World and Into Borgue. Borgue is a little town in Dumfries and Galloway that’s always has a reputation of being otherworldly, so it’s an idea of investigating people’s idea to place from a previous art and documentary work, but taking it into a scripted psychological way. It’s a brand new challenge, but it means that I can score it as a composer as well.

ART.ZIP: 您是否有即將完成或最近完成的項目?

ML: 有的,那就是全新版本的《Oscillon Response(示波反應)》。過去一年裡,有六個月我專職只做這件作品。除此之外,我還創作了一部劇情片,這是我第一次涉足這個領域,是一部有故事腳本的影片。和我合作的還有一位制作人和一位編劇,我們的項目叫《走出塵世,步入博爾格( Out of the World and Into Borgue)》。博爾格(Borgue)是蘇格蘭鄧弗里斯蓋洛韋區域(Dumfries and Galloway)的一個小鎮,有著世外桃源的美譽。因此,我們的想法是根據早前的一部藝術紀錄片來探討人們對於處地的看法,再賦予其劇情化的心理活動過程。這是新的挑戰,但這也意味著我能以作曲家的身份為這部片子配樂。

ART.ZIP: Have you been to China before?

ML: No, I haven’t. What I’m interested in is the parallels between places, so if I’m making work in a little fishing village in the highlands I’m very interested if there are parallels between China or wherever. I’m just interested in the everyday things. There’s real poetry in people’s everyday life and I like to try and reveal that. Going somewhere as an outsider you would see things, that you if lived there, you wouldn’t, because you’re used to it. I quite like being on the periphery.

ART.ZIP: 您到過中國嗎?

ML: 沒有。我感興趣的東西是地方之間的相似性,所以,如果我在高地的小漁村進行創作,我感興趣的是在中國是否有相類似的地方。我只對日常的事物感興趣。日常生活帶有著真正的詩意,我想試著去呈現。以局外人的身份到處走,你便能發現許多當地人無法察覺的一面,因為你對一切已經習以為常。我很喜歡自我邊緣化的局外人身份。

Mark Lyken The Terrestrial Performance at Sonica 2015. Photo by Tommy Ga Ken Wan