Conor Roche, Co-curator (Fieldwork Productions) 

Decade is a live music and film project that explores the boundaries between online and offline, live and recorded-live, linear and non-linear composition, interactive and passive experience. The project will exist primarily as an online interactive installation and as a live performance.

Decade consists of ten films, each representing a decade in the life of Hong Kong over the past 100 years. The films are curated by the Hong Kong Film Archive and scored by Steve Hui and ten local musicians.

'The films include footage captured by Edison's team during a visit to Hong Kong at the turn of the 20th century, the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and the hand over in 1997. The project is a journey through Hong Kong’s history and a depiction of the ever evolving nature of the city’s urban and rural topography.

The original score for each film will combine to create a singular non-linear musical piece. This composition will include both traditional Chinese and contemporary instrumentation, creating a unique ensemble of musicians and sound.

Decade uses live performance as a means to capture the music for the project and the Internet to reach audiences beyond the confines of a live performance venue. As the work is distributed online, audiences have an opportunity to remix and reorder the films and the music.

 

Winnie Fu, Co-curator (Programmer, Hong Kong Film Archive)

Hong Kong used to be termed the “borrowed place living on borrowed time” because of its political history. Since 1997, its label became “a returned place with a fixed borrowed time of 50 years”. This absurd fate, however, has made Hong Kong even more prominent on the world map. Despite skeptical prophecies of its future and destiny, the seemingly indifferent populace of this borrowed place continues to thrive and survive.

This kind of striving energy is unique while such survival skills are amazingly shocking.

Decade is a project that intends to comprehend such energy recorded in the powerful media of FILM and VIDEO from the past century. By revitalizing archival moving images, we want to trigger new interpretations of this metropolis and bring along new thoughts and hopes to the next generation who shall continue to strive and survive on.

Decade is a creative digital project that experiments with new music to go along with the moving images in 10 different modules, marrying 10 chapters of historical footage, all of which are treasured records of our root and home, Hong Kong, with 10 new creative music pieces. These 10 audio-visual pieces will then be placed on the virtual highway to be appreciated in an interactive mode by an international audience.

As the curator responsible for the selection and production of the visual images, particular efforts were made to source the most representative images of each DECADE, to cover not only the city texture and landscapes, but also the overall sentiment of the populace at their respective time and space. A bold step has been taken to cover both documentaries and fiction film materials which represent the film history of Hong Kong in the past 110 years (1898 to 2010). We hope that through this actively creative exercise, new clues shall emerge to re-interpret the cinematic, cultural and historical development of Hong Kong.

 

Steve Hui, Music Director

In the 19th century, German composer Richard Wagner proposed Gesamtkunstwerk, a concept that suggests the blurring of boundaries between art forms; combining visual arts, music, dance, song, poetry, script and performance to create a brand new audio-visual experience. Gesamtkunstwerk not only played a significant role in the shaping of modern opera, it revolutionized the creation of cross-media art works.

Hong Kong is a city of hybridity; the idea of “One Country, Two Systems” per se is an experiment transcending cultures and systems; and “transcendence” in essence is provocative and dialectical to forms and boundaries. “Transcendence” allows us to learn, interact and clash with one another, opening up fresh perspectives and expanding space for development.

Decade is an interactive cross-disciplinary platform. The ten participating musicians came from different backgrounds with diverse musical expertise spanning the widest range possible - Chinese and Western, independent underground and pop, classical and avant-garde, academic and self-trained, electronic and acoustic, digital and analog. Each musician is assigned to compose a solo instrumental piece to score a video, which together, form the building blocks of Decade. Via our interactive website, viewers can freely arrange the musical and visual components of Decade and create their unique version with the virtual ten-piece ensemble. As for myself, I share the online participants’ role of designing, composing and arranging the ten sets of components. The ten musicians and I will together create a live version of Decade at Freespace Fest held year-end. The performance will be an interplay between music, visual projection and open space, realizing an audio-visual experience transcending medium, form, time and space.

Music gives us new eyes to view images and images enable us to enjoy music by unconventional means. Image-music interaction empowers the breaking of boundaries, extending new territory for transcendence, at once challenging and nourishing the aesthetics and principles of two different media. Cross-disciplinary interaction lends a fresh perspective; I believe the ten musicians all have their own memories and feelings towards the imageries of Hong Kong’s past. When personal memory translates into art, these become shareable experiences for others; image-music interaction shall be our collective memory. The moment when Decade’s musicians began discussing what “our voice” or “the common language” is marks the moment of creative interaction and the clash of ideas.