The Temperature of Trams: Sitting-Still-Moving 電車的溫度:聽見,城市的瞬間


 

TEXT BY 撰文 x JAY, CHUN-CHIEH LAI 賴駿杰
IMAGES COURTESY OF 圖片 x TIMES MUSEUM 廣東時代美術館

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The moving train where we sit always attracts us to ‘see’ the scenery outside, and the speed of motion also removes the passengers from the sense of place, acting as a barrier. Even in a relatively slow tram, serving as a common way for commuters in a city, the windows through which they see mostly serve as utterly usual views. It shows ‘nothing’ more than a space that hosts daydreams; in this way, the moving coach is a place without any productive values. However, the project conducted by the British artists collective Circumstance, Sitting-Still-Moving – Times Museum Art on Track, aimed to change this impression and to transform the tram into a carriage that not only carries people but also brings them a novel story, or a past-cum-forgotten history regarding the local community.

Circumstance is an artists group founded in Bristol, which attempts to create unusual approaches, through which people can revisit the everyday and natural circumstances surrounding them. The term ‘natural’ here plays a crucial role. They make up a cinema but without any cinematic mechanism. Instead, they encourage viewers not merely to join the project but also to take parts in natural environment—to be a part of the world! The key components include musicians, composers, technologists, programmers, writers and designers who work inter-disciplinarily with each other. The multiple forms they use to realize the projects are designated to public participations. One of their main claims is: “Using both emergent and commonplace technology, we try to make films without cameras” thus becoming a critically intriguing point of understanding their practices.

With supports by Guangzhou Tram, the collaboration between Times Museum and the artists overcame a lot of difficulties, especially the technical problems with electricity. Moreover, the wireless headphones over the participants also become a waiting-to-be-solved problem. That is, the signal transmission to which the headphones have to be connected and corresponded. According to the curator Veronica Wong, how to interpret the English texts into Chinese served as a significant challenge due to the different context. During the journey, the eyes of passengers became the lens – or if you’d like, the windows – that not only functioned as a gateway through which people received passively what came to them. Rather, the listeners would be intrigued by the stories described and would therefore ‘look for’ something answering the stories or inductions. This action, to search for targets, is similar to the motion of lens – see, search and think. On the other hand, the way of knowing the outside world here not only ran monodirectional, from viewers to the scenes, but they would also be taught by nature – the most wise and great teacher all over the world.

Due to the main missions given to the Time Museum, they are engaged with producing a public platform where people can share and make their own stories. In this way, the museum is not merely a place for people coming and ‘being educated’, but also becomes as equal to the residents as well as the artists. As the curator said, the museum has been constantly trying to break down the physical limitations and dipping into the everyday life shared by local community. By doing this, the curator wishes to advocate the participants’ sensations by regarding the city more than the ‘knowledge’. For this reason, how to create dialogues between the artists and the residents thus options essentially as one of the most difficult things. However, the first challenge came to this project indeed stood upon the question of knowledge about the city. It was not easy for a non-professional resident to comprehend the history of changing with regards to this place, needless to say the artists as foreigners. Therefore, the Professor Yuan Qifeng who is a specialist in Geography and City Planning, played a supporting role of know-how for interacting with the local people and their histories. Based on the understanding the artists learned from Yuan, they composed a new piece of sound track and recorded it in Guangzhou, which they believed that it perfectly corresponding to the local context of history.

It may make sense if comparing the sites in which the project happened to cinemas – both are closed space – where viewers are immersed (‘theatre-like’ as one of frequent methods taken by Circumstance), there was a fundamental alteration devoted to by the artists, that is the way of perceiving. Precisely, they tried to diverge from the ‘seeing’ as believed as essential to the ‘listening’. Not only listening to the stories, conversations or sounds that would be changed with different geographic locations, the individual headphone accompanying the passing images but co-produced a distinct immersive experience – just like sitting within moving pictures. Those two different kind of motion pictures are both driven by ‘machines’: a running tram and a film projector; while, the former forced people to approach what they’d have seen, which was completely contradictory to the way of sensing the images projected in a cinema.

The curatorial team offered two different versions: the daytime and the night one whence the light on the tram would be turned into a whole darkness. Passengers therefore can concentrate on the sense of listening – to the city. Additionally, participants were also encouraged to interact with the other sitters by following the instructions. It is this reason to make participants feel hard to be immersed within this specific film, where the viewers no longer think themselves isolated and only need to feel their own exiting status. Consequently, it led towards totally distinct experiences from seeing films in the so-called ‘black box’. Instead of a self-centric consciousness, people started to encounter others who have always been ignored as strangers in the coach. Through this, they built up temporary relationships among others. Afterward, what can be expected is that, they begin to smile, talk and be friends – and, perhaps, they could find some people to talk about the shared historical stories that were handed down by the older generations. It is an alternative, but a natural way of story telling. In this sense, the view (the scenery) the passengers see will constantly change according to the location, time and the ‘temperature’ that derives from people’s conversations. The metal coaches have thus been transformed into a live space where emotions flow, breathing as organic creatures and carrying the common memories towards the future.

移動中的列車總是吸引著搭乘者“觀賞”外頭風景,而其移動的速度也隔絕了旅人的地方感知,就像一道屏障。即使是在一個相對緩慢的且用以通勤的有軌列車中,乘客們透過車窗所觀看到的也是再尋常不過的事物。列車或許只是一個白日夢發生的場所;就此言之,移動的車廂並不具有任何生產性價值。然而,由英國藝術家團體Circumstance與廣東時代美術館所共同策劃的《聽見,城市的瞬間——時代美術館有軌藝術》,即企圖改變這種印象,並希冀將有軌列車轉變為不僅搭載乘客,也帶給他們一個新穎的故事,或是一個過往且被遺忘的,關於在地社群的歷史。

Circumstance是一個於英國布里斯托所創立的藝術家團體,其主旨在於創造迥異的路徑,而透過它們,人們可以重探日常生活,以及周遭之自然環境。“自然”,在此扮演了相當重要的角色。他們總是打造一個沒有任何劇院設備的影院。取而代之的是,藉由鼓勵觀者不僅參與其計畫,也應涉入自然——成為這世界的一份子!主要的組成成員包括有音樂家、作曲家、技術專家、程式專家、作家,以及設計師等,真正地跨領域的工作團隊。此外,他們也總為參與者量身訂做各種不同的實踐形式。其中一個主要的宣言為:“利用新穎與尋常的科技,我們試圖創造沒有鏡頭的電影”,而這也是用以理解其創作理念的重要關鍵。

透過廣州有軌電車公司的支持,這項計畫克服了許多難題,特別是技術上關於電力的問題,以及隨之而來的,如何精準傳輸互動音檔至參與者所使用的無線耳機。根據策展人王莉莉的說法,因為不同語境之脈絡,如何將英文文稿翻譯且詮釋至中文則為嚴峻的挑戰之一。在設定的列車旅程中,乘客的雙眼成為了鏡頭,或者,觀景窗。其不僅做為觀者用以被動地接收其所視的渠道,而是,相反地,聽者將會被所描述的故事音檔吸引,因而去“尋找”,並且回應那些故事。這個搜尋目標的動作就像是鏡頭的運動——看、尋找,且思考。另一方面,在這裡,理解外在世界的方式不只是單向地從觀者至景象,觀者也同時反過來被此世界上最睿智與偉大的“自然”所教導。

The-Temperature-of-Trams3時代美術館主要的任務即為建構一個公共的平台,而大眾得藉以彼此分享並創造自己的故事。某方面而言,美術館不僅是一個供人們參觀且“被教育”的場所,而也應該平等共享於在地居民與藝術家們。如同策展人所言,時代美術館試圖不斷地打破實際的物理限制,並且深入與在地社群共同擁有的日常生活。藉由此計畫,策展人希望能喚起參與者對於這城市的感覺,而不僅止於“知識”。因此,如何創造藝術家與在地居民之間的對話就成為其中一個最艱困的任務。然而,首要面對的難題也確實落在關於這城市的知識。對於非專業的居民而言,要理解這地方的變遷與歷史並不容易,更遑論外國藝術家。中山大學地理科學与規劃學院的袁奇峰教授,則為此提供了基礎研究的專業知識,透過它,藝術家團隊得以生成一全新的聲音作品以完善地呼應在地歷史脈絡。

將此計畫發生的場域相比於實際的影院是有必要的,其二者皆為封閉空間,而觀者亦沉浸在其中(“如劇場般”為Circumstance所採取的經常手法)。但其中有一個顯著的差異在於感知的方式。具體言之,藝術家們試圖將我們習以為常的“觀看”——總是被相信為最主要的感知管道——方法,轉移至“聆聽”:不只聆聽那會隨著地點位置而改變的故事、對話或聲響,每個耳機以及過往風景也共同創造了獨有的情境體驗——就像坐在不斷移動的畫面中。這兩種不同的運動影像皆為“機器”所驅動:一列移動電車,以及一座影像投映機,然而,前者強迫觀者不斷地逼近其所視,這完全不同於影院中所放映之影像。

策展團隊也提供了兩種版本:白日版與黑夜版,在夜晚時,電車上會成為全黑的空間,觀者因此可以專注聆聽——聽見這城市。甚且,參與者也被鼓勵循著指令與其他人互動。正是這原因使得參與者不容易完全“沉浸”在這獨特的影院中,因為觀者不再感受到自身的孤立與其自我存在狀態,因而得以感受他人的存在。
最終,它將導向迥異於所謂的“黑盒子”中之觀看經驗。取代自我中心的意識,人們開始遭遇那些往往被忽略為陌生人的他者,並藉此建構了一暫時的相互關係。之後,可以被期待的是,他們開始微笑、說話,且成為朋友——又或者,他們也將談論其共享的歷史,以及那些世代流傳的傳說。這是一個另類但又自然的說故事之方式,某方面而言,這些乘客所瀏覽的風景,也將隨著地點與時間不斷地改變,以及由人們笑談中所生的“溫度”也將隨之起伏。金屬車廂因此被轉變為一個活生生的空間,情感流竄在其中,車廂彷彿有機生物般地開始呼吸,而將這些共同的記憶帶往不遠的未來。