I was first introduced to the term ‘poetry film’ at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Taipei. As a poet, I knew right away that was the kind of video work I would like to do. In 2007, I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study filmmaking and to continue experimenting with the relationship between poetry and film. To me, making a poetry film is like weaving. It doesn’t prevent me from being a poet. Instead, my poems grow with my films simultaneously. I always write something first before I go out to collect images, but everything is still unclear and improvised when I am shooting. During the editing stage, I like to collage the images. Afterwards, I always write something based on the images and then collage the images more. In other words, my images and text feed each other rather than feed on each other.
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In Was Being Moved?, this weaving can be seen through the combination of different images I collage: the New York City parades, the Baishatun Mazu pilgrimage, the homemade boat in Chicago, the Lanyu traditional boat, etc. The Baishatun Mazu pilgrimage is a very unique Taoist activity in Taiwan. The pilgrimage, itself, is a miracle. The sculpture of the god shakes her sedan in the direction she wants to lead the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage usually lasts for eight to ten days. Thousands of people follow Mazu more than 400 kilometers from northern Taiwan to the middle of the country and back again.
The handmade wooden sailboat in Chicago was made by two American artists, James Barry and Hui-min Tsen. The boat is part of their art project The Mt. Baldy Expedition. The project is a journey of the imagination that explores the act of commonplace exploration and the experience of wonder in daily life. After filming their boat, I went to Lanyu, a small island off the coast of Taiwan, to film another handmade wooden boat. The Lanyu boat is a ten-man, traditional boat made by the Taiwan native peoples for catching flying fish during the spring fishing season. I try to create a conversation between the sailboat and fishing boat. The main connection between these source materials is the concept of ‘movement’ and ‘being moved.’ Are people moving by themselves or being moved by Mazu? Do the boat builders move the boats, or do the boats move them?
If someone asks me what my creative process looks like, I would say, ‘It’s like directing a group of electric jellyfish sneaking into a tilt tower to rub together. They could become a sunny day, a fever, a humming song, or a glass of Bloody Mary, which … I never know.’