In a continuation of the column 2010 Cinema, this is the first in a series of fictional portraits by Hu Fang, each taking the form of loose screen plays.
(a) He tries to depict his own image, with the result that he is captivated by his own image.
Thus his whole life becomes the process of fashioning this image.
Lovers who could not divide their attentions;
Lovers with hidden shame;
Lovers who could never settle down.
Pink assholes of the neon tubes;
Schizophrenia of capitalist ideology;
And the myriad shades of colors in this world.
(b) A film will document the process of how his image is reproduced:
How it becomes a portable, displayable, salable commodity (example: great men can always be transformed into souvenirs for tourists to take home);
How it reveals the absurd logic of existence (example: vacations are for working even harder);
How it becomes the two faces of a coin (there is no way to see yourself and an image of yourself at the same time).
(c) “I should appear exactly the same as the image in my movie.”
This is how he sums up his life in the movie trailer.
A countless number of television sets are lined up into a single wall, their screens all flashing the same images as though the original landscape has been evenly divided up into atoms each repeating itself. Right before the eyes of the public, the fission of the world is achieved through this wall of televisions.
No longer prepared with an eye for appreciating beauty, the television wall instead constricts the richness of essential living, uniformly turns it into an infinite splitting such that no matter which, all its parts appear to be part of the exact same information processor. It requires of us a new kind of sensibility for confronting it all.
He thinks: “If I had the opportunity to open a specialty shop here, I would call it Sense Collection, and aside from selling my books, the store could also trade in odds and ends that evoke people’s memories – a pair of underpants, a gauze scarf, a bunch of chrysanthemums, a tree leaf…”
It is a night for reveling in luxury brands. After the gala, he stares at the candlestick burning down to its end, a diminutive but virginal phallus.
When he passes the workshops in the suburbs, the sounds of the machinery and the ringing in his ears strangely fuse together, producing a vision similar to Antonioni’s Red Desert.
Just as Kieslowski has shown us, today it is both extremely necessary and yet extremely difficult to tell a story with a moral conscience. The director’s predicament is like that of someone pressed into the sofa making love who suddenly glances at the television to see a plea for children in a disaster area.
And so, on this location we call the world, in order to prevent delays to the entire production schedule due to the temporary absence of an official director, he can only steel himself and pick up his megaphone – in spite of all the envious looks surrounding him.
Translated from the Chinese by Andrew Maerkle.
Hu Fang is a fiction writer and co-founder of Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, as well as The Pavilion/the shop, Beijing. His latest book is the novel Garden of Mirrored Flowers (co-published by Sternberg Press and Vitamin Creative Space).