The Void

Dialogue: The acting talents of ‘The Shadow Lands Yonder’ (Excerpt)

  • TypeText
  • Time2021
  • SourceLee Kai Chung
  • VenueShenyang, China
  • CreditLan-he, Chi-tang, Cong-miao, Ai-zi, Yi-cen, Tu-mi, Jun-chi
  • CopyrightLee Kai Chung

Date/ Time: 22nd Nov 2021 | 1600-1900

Venue: Shenyang (Bai-hua Cafe)

Attendees: Kai Chung, Lan-he, Chi-tang, Cong-miao, Ai-zi, Yi-cen, Tu-mi, Jun-chi

Before the filming of The Shadow Lands Yonder, Kai Chung met with the cast and discussed ‘Home’, ‘Homeland’ and ‘Nothingness’


Kai Chung: Imagine a place where you are going, and don't know when you will go back home. What would you take with you?

Lan-he: I will bring the key to Wonderland (Club) with me.

Kai Chung: I find it quite interesting that the key is a metaphor that may not have an actual function, as if Wonderland is a place you can go back to whenever you want (Lan-he: right).

Ai-zi: Once I ran away from home and didn't want to go back. Then I got a job near a school. It was a late shift that finished at 12 o'clock. I didn't get paid in the first month and I had nowhere to go, every day after work I wandered around and I wondered where I could go tonight, I could go to an internet cafe, a B&B, or a friend's place, but I bothered my friend too much and she got mad at me because I didn't know what to do at her home. Not as adaptable as she (Lan-he) is. Then I just wandered around for a long time, looking at the dark and deserted surroundings every night in the cold breeze, sometimes looking at the sky and the city for stars.

Yi-cen: And then for me (at my current age of experience), the only homeland is the womb. The moment you come out of the womb, you are out of your homeland and you can never go back. So I don't think there's anything worth taking with me from my homeland. But if you want to live in nothingness and continue to find meaning, you need something to support you, and then music for me gives me that strength.

I am reading a book recently and I think it says quite rightly. In the beginning, it's like you're in a very confined and comfortable room, and then you look through the window of that room and you feel like you're safe, you're protected, you're embraced. But once you leave your hometown, it's like, suddenly the room becomes a ruin, it's open, broken, decaying, and alienated.
Then you look through the window of the ruin to the outside world and you would think that the window will no longer be as it is, its function and meaning of a so-called ‘window’ change. The concept of ‘window’ no longer exists, it becomes a ‘hole’. The world that you were looking at from a foreign perspective no longer exists. You are now in the same dimension as that space. When you lose your cover and are exposed to it, the former external space is destroyed. For me, my homeland is where I can no longer go back to. In this world, I am constantly in a ‘ruin’.

These thoughts may be related to my ideology. I think that people do not possess a sense of self, that is, they do not have a self, and everything is a mirror - for example, you are born as a child, and then you see the look your mother gives you in return, whether it is a laugh or a scolding, including the comments others make about you when you grow up, are all mirrors. What is called your self-evaluation is in fact a reflection from the other to the self. I feel that it's too futile to look for anything that is related to me. So I needed faith, which supported me in pushing the stone up the cliff again and again.

They say that after WWII, the Japanese suddenly started to play psychedelic music, which was like the sound of a spaceship from another planet. It's because their minds were completely devastated during the Second World War. So what then? If it needed to be rebuilt, people had to think of something in a higher dimension, and then to believe in that, so that it can comfort the people psychologically. In the music of that era, that collective unconsciousness was mapped onto the UFOs. The mental paralysing effect of the high-dimensional sound is similar to how I feel about the music actually.

Ai-zi: What I will bring is more nostalgic, a diary written in my hometown, as I have been away from my hometown of Qingdao for 9 years now.

Whenever I mentioned my hometown to you, I would tell you that when I was in primary school, there was a time when the road from my house to the school was full of cherry blossoms, and in April, the cherry blossoms would grow in abundance. In the morning, there were very few people, and when the wind blew, the cherry blossoms would really blow up. With that said, it may be that I came to Dongbei where there are fewer cherry blossoms. Maybe people don't know what I'm talking about, so they don't have a great reaction. Having said that, I myself have a little doubt that the cherry trees in my hometown really exist? Because I haven't been back for 9 years, and then I was googling that there was no record or picture of it, like our theme ‘The Shadows in Yonder’. Did I make up such scenery out of my memory which is actually just an ordinary tree?

Jun-chi: Like the elephant in Manzhouli. [1]

Ai-zi: Is there only one tree? or are there only a few trees around the corner? Is there any proof? How can I prove that my beautiful impressions of my hometown are real? As long as I don't go back there will be no answer, and subsequently, if I do, the cherry trees are gone.

So I'm thinking that if I were to leave my hometown again now, I must take a diary with me to write down all the things I like in this hometown, all my experience, so that when I look back on it later, I won't have this very vague feeling, did I really know this group of people? Were we really working on an artistic project? Or were those just my imagination?
It's something that might give me a solid psychological anchor in a foreign land.

Kai Chung: Because I often do research, a lot of the time I read people writing about their own memories, and on the other hand, sometimes I have to work with historians, and historians say that what you read is ‘fake’. For them, it's just personal memories, but memories are a funny thing, because there can be embellishments and deterioration, or amplification of pain.
But for which person is it who says that one is not real? We often ask that question when we do research, what is the ‘historical truth’. But that is not the most important thing. Because the person feels what he/she really remembers and feels, that is his/her truth, it cannot necessarily be compared with others at the same time, and there is no need to do so. I think the ‘nothingness’ is sometimes better than the truth, because it can still make you go on. One of the reasons is that it is possible that Qingdao has been redeveloped and those cherry blossom trees were removed, which is a terrible thing for you in my opinion, or the locals have forgotten the trees, they are no longer important. I think it's good that you have memories now.

[1]HU Bo, An Elephant Sitting Still, 2019.