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Ecological Image: Shot in the Over-heated Anthropocene




According to recent media reports, this June was the hottest June ever recorded on earth. After this piece of news passed from the airwaves, the following media headlines and social media feeds included the Arctic ice melt, Amazon forest fire, the Venice flood...


There seems to be evidence of scientists terming the current geological era as the Anthropocene, which states that human activity has transcended all other factors on its impact on earth. We have already witnessed many sci-fi epic productions on apocalyptic futures as well as films advocating environmentalism. But departing from a human-centric conventional mindset, most non-human lives and matters are presented as oppositional binaries that are either passive, singular and powerless, or anthropomorphic, lovely and not-my-breed kind of evil.


The film industry as a product from the second industrial revolution has been shaped by global capital flow, technology acceleration and thus became a standard costly product which trades directly with human dopamine. In a highly controlled but ecologically uncontrollable planet, as well as the capitalistic tracks engulfing every heterogeneous space, what kind of moving image can we still create? Facing the ontological crises such as deficiency and fallacy, how can we still cast our gaze and mind onto the other living creatures and non-living matters.


Through this themed screening and forum, we want to focus on "ecological image", which confronts the challenge of the Anthropocene from the ontology and practice of the moving image as well as engaging in social production and life philosophy within creative practice. We invited several guests and alternative social communities who have been working and living long-term in the crossing field of ecology and moving image. Coming from various scenes of action ranging from the countrysides to cities, farmlands to highland meadows, we will connect with plants, animals and other living entities as well as media landscapes and other forms of new materials. Hopefully we can expand the thinking and action path of contemporary ecological moving image through this screening and forum section.


From Our Eyes:Ecological Documentaries from Tibetan Herdsmen


The one small camera lens made the deeper connection between the Tibetan highland herders and the outside world. The world was gradually magnified through the camera frame. Water is condensed from the earth, up to the sky, becomes fog, rain then falls back again to the earth. From the lens of the herders, the rhythm of life is reserved. You can sense the pulse of living from their films. Every film's realization was rather slow, because the herder filmmakers have to wait, wait till the water turns into rain, rain falls back on the earth, grass slowly sprout, cows and sheep devour the grass, then cutting cow hair and sheep wool... All of these seem banal, but in the repeated daily events, there are full of changes. Through documenting their daily life, herders have gained more sensitive perceptions and multiple reflections.


Lü Bin


The director of FROM OUR EYES Rural Documentary And Culture Research Centre,a documentary film maker who focuses on traditional culture of the minority and their conception of nature. Since 2000, he has been working on the video record of rural life.


As a documentary film director, his main works include “Blooming Red Lotus”, “The eye of Shangri-La”, and “Bird Wbisperer”. Among them, “The eye of Shangri-La” won the silver award for the short film in the first Southern Pocket Film Festival in 2009. His three short films were displayed in the “Walker” column of Tourism Satellite TV. “Bird Wbisperer” was shortlisted for the 2009 “Planet In Focus” International Environmental Film Festival in Canada.



Forum: On Ecological Moving Image Practices


Guo Jing


A retired scholar of Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, PhD in ethnic history. His research focuses on documentary production of the western region of China and the audi-visual anthropology. He has published many books such as Book of the Snow Mountain, Mask of the Mind etc. He was one of the curators of Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival and worked with FOE team to promote the image-based public welfare program. His films include Kawagarbo, a journal-style documentary.


Zheng Bo


He grew up in Beijing and now lives in Lantau Island of Hongkong. He is an artist, researcher, and teacher, focusing on ecological history and imagination. He collaborates with marginal people and marginal plants to create wild gardens, growing slogans, and ecological queer images. He received a PhD degree in Visual and Cultural Studies from Rogers Tsinghua University, 2010-13. He once taught at the China Academy of Art, and 13 years later he taught at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. His recent collaborations include Kyoto City University of Arts, Berlin Martin Gropius Bau Museum, European Manifesta, Taipei Biennale, and Shanghai Biennale.


Plants and Sex


In 2016, I started shooting films of queer people (Homosexuals) and queer plants (ferns), which lead me to accidentally encounter many scenes portraying sex between human and all other species in 19th century Japanese Ukiyoe. Recently, I also found that there is even cross-species desire in the natural world, such as between bees and orchids ...


Yu Guo


Freelance artist, born in Tongjiang, Sichuan in 1983, graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2006, and currently works and lives in Chongqing. His creation involves various media such as video, painting and writing. He is concerned about the social art practice and has co-founded the project space such as the Chongqing Work Institute with others.


Urban Landscape and Enchantments


Every time when we look at the city, we separate the scene into appearance and background. But it is such human-centered way of seeing that makes us ignore the information hidden in the background. The city, as a medium, constitutes the ecology of human life, the very landscape that is often invisible. The lecture will talk about how to reexamine the new urban landscape and consider the city as ecology: Is our city turning into liquidity? Is the urban life filled with various “enchantments”?


Lo Lailai Natalie


While she learns farming in Hong Kong, she is also exploring the “Half-Farming and Half-X” lifestyle. Such kind of lifestyle practice has prompted her to reflect on alternative lifestyles and ecology. Recently, Lai Lai is especially interested in the mutual control and dependence of the emotion and desire found among human being and nature. She believes that the rivalry and contradictions hidden behind such relationship are even more attractive, just like the bottomless pond.


Sustainable Art Cultivation-Reconnecting Life and Land with“Half Farming and Half-X”


I will share my bitter-sweet farming experience with farmer friends in which we try to promote food movement and imagine alternative community building as a food producer and an educator. In addition, I will also talk about the idea of returning to the artist’s own creation, and the use of the moving images to sort out the thinking about the relationship between the people and the land.

Copyright@ Beijing International Short Film Festival / 北京国际短片联展 / BISFF2019