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The Fifth Night II (Rehearsal)

Shanghai Biennale 2010 2013

What is a film? This is a question embedded in all the works by Yang Fudong ever since 2000.  In "Dawn Mist, Separation Faith" he created in 2008, the artist looked at the production process of films for inspiration. The work deals with the NG parts in the filming process by getting rid of all the "right parts" and highlighting all the fragments that "ought to be" removed. The multiple meaning of filming and the uncertainty in narration are maximized to the greatest extent.

In 1959, Jean Renoir became the first director to experiment with multiple camera shooting. In the "Fifth Night" by Yang Fudong, the use of multiple cameras is also key element. There are seven movie cameras with different depths of field, perspectives and tracks of movement. While "Dawn Mist, Separation Faith" can be watched with a "peripheral vision", where nine projects are playing at the same time and viewers have to focus every and each bit of their attention on the work, "Fifth Night" lets viewers have their own way of watching and can be called a "compound eye movie".

"The Fifth Night No.1" and "The Fifth Night No.2" were shot at the same time. The first one is the so-called "feature film", while the latter is a "rehearsal". For Yang, the production of a film harbors all the secrets and the movies we take for granted are just a part of film production rather than the ultimate end. When rehearsal becomes the core of a movie, the relationship between the film and the reality is no longer important: the film serves as a medium and a site and it is both a part of the rehearsal and outside of it.

How can we shoot the perfect moving object? Coincidence might help. But we can't really create coincidence. The slight difference of cameramen in operating cameras might also lead to a nice result. Before this movie, actors had never been in any film where seven cameras were shooting at the same time. The first camera might have a wide angle and was moving along slowly with the actor. When the actor moved to the scope of the second camera, we could perhaps only see the upper body of him/her. When the third camera is shooting, we might see a long shot. Such an experience of changing scenes is fascinating to them.  And my questions are, while he is shooting with all these cameras at the same time, how could the artist express the sense of time? How did minor differences of cameras and coincidence become the subject?

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