Movement in Time, Part 2, Red Temple version (2019)

Hong Kong in Poor Images

This is a re-run of the original Movement in Time, Part 2 artwork with 2 new fighting scenes from the 2 martial art films with the same Chinese title 火燒紅蓮寺.

  • The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple 1963
  • Burning Paradise 1994

It is created for an exhibition Hong Kong in Poor Images (curated by Hong Zeng) shown in the Ely Center of Contemporary Art, New Haven, 12 Jan – 16 Feb 2020 .

The Movement in Time series explore the creative use of movement/motion data obtained from found footages of motion pictures. The Part 2 series investigate the motion data from the fighting sequences of martial art films from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Once the motion data is extracted from different scenes, it is matched against a database of cursive style Chinese calligraphic characters known as the One Thousand Characters Classics 千字文. The actual matching is based on machine learning algorithms. The matched Chinese characters will be shown on the screen as animated writings. This version also gathers all the matched characters into poetic lines. These lines are, however, not sensible to read as real poem.

In order to obtain the movement/motion data, the custom software that I developed makes use of the technique known as optical flow, in computer vision. It basically tracks the flow of pixels across consecutive picture frames in time. The visualisation of optical flow resembles a low resolution image digitised in poor quality. Nevertheless, it is just low-res enough to give viewer a sense of what the motion is.

Post exhibition development

After the exhibition in Yale, I reworked the software with the same film clip from The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple, with different approaches. Here are some of the experiments. The final artwork may show in a coming exhibition in Shenzhen in July 2020.