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Door Games Window Frames: Near Drama(中文版)
2012, 11 minutes 30 seconds


Click to view video clip [under construction]

a Linda Lai video / PAL 16:9 / b & w / 11m 30s

a single-channel 3-window digital video, adapted and re-edited from a 3-channel computational installation of the same title, a found footage work exploring stylistic mannerism in Hongkong film melodramas in the 1960s.

Concept / Artist Statement

Door Games Window Frames: Near Drama is originally a generative 3-channel projection consisting of sequences of open-ended drama, now adapted into a single-channel, 3-window combinatorial drama. The work deploys a database of about 500 movie clips extracted from 11 HK Cantonese thrillers and melodramas from the early 1960s. Exploring the mannerism and formulaic structures of such films, I discovered a key feature – the frequent use of the opening and closing of doors to introduce a scene, and the use of windows to highlight emotively charged moments in melodrama.

In this piece, I have turned such door and window movements literally into a unique propeller of drama. As punctuations as well for emotive shifts, the combinatorial game I play with these clips constructs micro-narrative movements. The 'near drama' resulting from the combinatorial exercise could be frustrating for not delivering one straightforward story; but my method liberates every segment between the closing and opening of doors and windows to allow them to stand alone to perform its dramatic energy.

In this video version, the work has 3 chapters -- "Trial & Speculations: spinning the wheel," "Getting Serious" and "Behind the doors, in front of the windows" -- laying out the process of studying door and window devices, at the same time brewing dramaticity without ever arriving at any single stable story.

The 500 clips were extracted with the following interest: (1) door and window shots from the 11 films, (2) the performance of the male protagonists -- mainly 2 actors -- in scenes with doors and windows, (3) the close-up shots of the facial expressions of female protagonists in the 11 films; (4) close-up shots of everyday objects, and (5) outdoor scenes that contain visual view of the city space of Hong Kong. Whereas the first three criteria set up my analytical-visual studies of the genre characteristics of these films, the latter two criteria form the anthropological-ethnnographic objectives of this project, acknowledging photography and cinema's intrinsic power to preserve the looks and appearances of material existence from the past.

Acknowledgement 鳴謝:

Research Assistant: Terence Chan Kwan-ho 研究助理:陳坤浩

HK films researched and included in this work: thriller + melodrama

All movies were made in the 1960s.

Film Title Director Male protagonist played by... Genre
Blossoms in Rainy May I 《五月雨中花》上集
QIN Jian 秦劍
Family romance
Blossoms in Rainy May 2 《五月雨中花》

QIN Jian 秦劍

Family romance
捉姦記》 (catching the adulterous ones)

WU Hui

Thriller (Hitchcockian style) + romance
《夜半奇談》(strange tales at midnight)
XIE Hong 謝虹
Thriller (haunted house) + family
Rear Window 《後窗》

CHEN Pi 陳皮

Thriller (Hitchcock's Rear Window adapted)
The Splendor of Youth 《黛綠年華》


Family romance
《難兄難弟》(unbreakable fraternity)
QIN Jian 秦劍
Social reality + comedy + romance
《午夜招魂》(calling the spirit at midnight)
ZHANG Ying 張瑛
Thriller (haunted house and murder)
09 《金枝玉葉》(golden branch jade leaves) WU Hui
ZY Romance + comedy
10 《第7号司机》 (driver no. 7)
ZHANG Ying 張瑛
Social Drama
11 Second Spring 《翠樓春曉》
WANG Tianlin 王天林
Family romance

XX = Xie Xian (Tse Yin) 謝賢 / ZY = ZHANG Ying 張瑛

Female protagonists played by: Jia Ling 嘉玲 / Jiang Xue 江雪 / Li Zhuozhuo 黎灼灼 / Wang Aiming 王愛明 / Nan Hong 南紅 / Bai Xuexian 白雪仙 / Zhou Jialing 周嘉玲 / Zi Luolian 紫羅蘭 / Mei Qi 梅綺 / Xia Ping 夏萍 / Bai Luming 白露明

Other male protagonists played by: Hu Feng 胡楓 / Wu Chufan 吳楚帆 / Luo Jianlang 羅劍郎


[Screening record]

* October 24-28, 2012: the 23rdImpakt Festival 2012 - 'Panorama', Utrecht, the Netherlands. [...]

* September 1-7, 2012: the 9th Experimental Film & Video Festival in Seoul (EXiS 2012); in international competition

*19 July 2017. EXiS 2017 - as part of Linda Lai's solo screening in INDI-VISUAL, Korean Film Archive, Seould, Korea


2012, 11分30秒