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.
Cuator: Zimu Zhang (researcher, moving image practitioner, Phd candidate at City University of Hong Kong)
The event has two parts:
1. Special Screening: From Our Eyes- - Ecological Documentaries from Tibetan Herdmen
(Dec,1st 2019, 1pm-4pm, Goethe Institue)
2. Forum: On Ecological Moving Image Practices (Dec, 1st, 2019, 4:30pm-7:30pm, Goethe Institue)
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, screening programmer
Lü Bin is the director of FROM OUR EYES Rural Documentary And Culture Research Centre，he is also a documentary filmmaker who focuses on the traditional culture of the minority and their conception of nature. Since 2000, he has been working on the video record of rural life.
Located in the alpine pasture of Nianbaoyuze in Qinghai Province, the herder Lanzhe who had directed "Yak Dung", set the camera again to the prairie that raised him. This time he would use the video camera in his hand to do research on prairie ecological management. This large-scale, long-established and wide-reaching ecological management project seems to achieve little success. The degradation of the grassland is still intensifying, and the Pikas' population is increasing. Although scientists and scholars have posed many different explanations, the voices from the local community have still been absent for a long time.
Still from “Pika” by Lanzhe
Tibetan, a herder from Nyanpo Yurtse sacred mountain, Golog, Qinghai, as well as a member of the Nyanpo Yurste Conservation Association. He participated in "From our eyes- Nyanpo Yurste documentary training camp and began to make documentaries on grassland cultural transformations. In 2018, after completing his third film "Pika", he began to experiment on grass planting for rehabilitating degraded grassland. In 2019, he started Nyanmo Tsang Nomad's film group, with "Nyan" referring to Nyanpo Yurste; "Mo" meaning eyes / lense; "Tsang" meaning home in Tibetan.
Duration: 35 min
Sanjiangyuan is regarded as China‘s water tower. People living in Sanjiangyuan have their own explanation of water. In Tibetan culture, water is classified as having eight kinds of quality, with water permeating everywhere in life. This film introduces ways of using water in daily life, the sources of water that are snow water, groundwater and lakes, and medicine springs which can cure diseases. Lakes, streams, springs, and rivers are the breeding grounds of the world.
Huazhi is a sensitive and shy young Tibetan. Before learning documentary filmmaking, he liked to write prose as a way of self-expression. After joining "From Our Eyes", he used his lens to portray the poetic Tibetan natural landscape and life, in a very thought provoking way. His representative works include "Water", and "Yak Milk".
Still from “Water” by Huazhi
The wounded black-necked crane and the herdsman kid
Director: Gongpo Tsering
Duration: 24 min
Above the wilderness of the plateau, a wounded black-necked crane couldn't fly. Herders on a motorcycle encountered it, and the herders took it home after the capture. The herding families vacated the yard, provided food and water and looked after it carefully, even asked for a doctor to treat the black-necked crane. Again and again, the little herder kids established some kind of trust with this visitor unconsciously. In the spring, the black-necked crane had recovered and went back to its habitat. However, the herder kid kept watching in the wild field and praying for the whereabouts of the black-necked crane.
Still from “The wounded black-necked crane and the herdsman kid” by
Gongpo Tsering: Gongpo has participated in the desertification control environmental activity initiated by Tachung Barang since 2011 and then joined the zoige prairie protection association. Among the seven members, Gongpo is mainly in charge of camera work. Since then the camera has become Gongpo’s close partner. While taking care of his family and herding, he carries his camera and documents the prairie.
Effect of barbed wire on wild animals
Director: Tachung Yizha
The film reveals the disastrous effect of the barbed wire on wild animals. Through interviewing oversea experts, Tibetan scholars and wild animal protectors, the director presented his questions and reflections on the condition of wild animals in Tibetan region.
Tachung Yizha: Tibetan, born in Aba zoige town, Maixi county Gasha village, graduated from North West university in 2017. He participated “Universe Eye Documentary Training” in 2015 and learned filmmaking. His representative works are “Prayer Wheel”, “Zhuoga Tashi” and “Effect of barbed wire on wild animals”. Since 2013 He followed his uncle, environmentalist Tachung Barang in the environmental protection career and founded Tachung Tsang Ecological Cultural exchange center. They have held more than 200 sharing sessions a year about desertification control, water resource protection, garbage disposal and wetland management.
Post Screening Guests:
Lanzhe, Tachung Yizha, Gongpo Tsering, Le Jia, Lü Bin, Zimu Zhang (moderator)
Photos of the event:
Forum: On Ecological Moving Image Practices
Speakers: Guo Jing, Zheng Bo, Lao Lili, Yu Guo. Moderator: Zimu Zhang
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.
Presentation: Ajuewa and Little Creatures
Kawakarpo, located at the junction of Yunnan and Tibet, is a sacred mountain of
more than 100,000 Tibetan believers in the East Magdalena-Hengduan Mountains
region. From 1998 to 2003, I started research from the Meili mountaineer accident and came here to carry out filming research. From two aspects of daily life and Buddhist beliefs, I
recorded the close connection between the local villagers and the sacred place and
the impact of development activities such as mountaineering and tourism on the local
environment and livelihoods. During this period, I collaborated with a local villager,
Tshering Sgrolma, to produce the Kawakarpo local documentary archive, named after Kawakarpo Epic. This time, I chose the short film Wildflower Valley in this documentary
series to show the life views of the local Tibetans through the story of how several
Ajuewas interacted with the frogs, ants, mushrooms, and elves when they spent the
whole day walking in the mountains.
PPT slide from Guo Jing’s representation
He grew up in Beijing and now lives in Lantau Island in Hong Kong. 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.
Performance Lecture: 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 ...
Still from Zheng Bo’s film “Pteridophilia”
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 social art practice and has co-founded the project space such as the Chongqing Work Institute with others.
Presentation: 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 urban life filled with various “enchantments”?
Still from Yu Guo’s work “Enchantment“
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.
Presentation: 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.
Still from Lao Lili’s work “Deep Flight”
Photos of the event: