Soul Stealer 叫魂 (2006--2008)
Photographer: ZENG Han + YANG Changhong 曾翰+杨长虹

拍摄这个系列,是从一些梦境出发的,那时我们在讨论的,是我们怎样通过摄影在一些源于历史的梦境寻找自身的血脉根源。于是在2006年,我们便找到了贵州的山庄里的地戏,我们希望通过用地戏这样一种被称为“中国戏剧活化石”的古老剧种,来重现不同朝代的古代战争场景,以及扮演者通过手中的面具与历史人物相通灵,让摄影成为一种时间机器,游弋于不同的历史节点。
但随着拍摄的深入,以及拍摄所得影像的慢慢浮现,我们的摄影已经不是某种简单的再现梦境或历史的时间机器,我们越来越发现摄影正像它刚被发明的时代,被当时的人们所认为的,是一种偷窃灵魂的行为,或者说是一种可以控制灵魂的装置。在地戏扮演者手持面具的肖像中,脱下戏服就是普通农民的扮演者,在手持他所扮演的历史人物的面具面对照相机镜头的那一刻,他的眼神和表情竟然与面具所刻绘的完全相同,也就是说通过摄影的几十分之一秒的行为,不仅时间交融了,那些远古的灵魂更是在此刻穿透各种界限,与真实的人一起停驻在照相胶片中;而在将不同戏队同置于一个真实的当下的自然环境中,演绎不同朝代的战争故事的大场景拍摄中,那些远古的魂灵更是前所未有地从不同时间的节点出发汇集到一起。整个拍摄的过程,我们没有对所有的人、物和环境做出一点改动和再造,我们只是将真实的人、物和环境重新组合在一个画面之内,用最简单的摄影方式制造出一个融合时间、人性、社会、文化、自然以及不可言说的灵界的图片。
地戏组照拍摄完成后,我们这个系列的摄影走向一个更有趣更开阔的方向:通过摄影,对历史和未来进行时间向度上的探询,对社会、文化、环境、政治之于人的影响控制探讨作为实体的人与灵魂之间的互为关系。于是,我们继续用同样的方式拍摄了动漫角色扮演(COSPLAY)组照,这次我们将镜头对准一群中国当代都市中的十几岁的年轻人,拍摄背景选择了与这些年轻人一样年轻的城市深圳。所谓COSPLAY,是指热爱漫画的人将自己装扮成漫画中的人物形象,并用各种道具和肢体语言演绎漫画情节。这些大部分都是在校中学生的中国小孩,自己缝制或定造服饰,自己化妆,扮演成外国漫画(绝大部分是日本漫画)角色,通过COSPLAY行为,自己就可以从一个普通人摇身一变为无所不能的漫画英雄(或恶魔),在某种强烈的心理和文化暗示下,超脱出日常生活环境的束缚进入一个可以任意想象为所欲为的虚拟世界。而这一行为的目的,似乎在他们面对照相机的那一刻已经得以实现。而在一个近似虚拟的城市上空,将各个虚拟的漫画场景一起并置其中,形成了一个以现实的人与环境组合而成的超现实画面,在对现实与虚拟,当下与未来等各层面上关系的探讨和挖掘,展现了摄影这一艺术媒介的无限可能性。
这两组照片的成形,也使得“叫魂”这个影像系列的拍摄思路慢慢成形。“叫魂”,是中国民间最为原始的一种催眠暗示治疗法,当小孩受惊吓后神志不清,长辈就在夜晚去到受惊吓的地方大声呼唤小孩的名字,使其“走失”的灵魂听到召唤后回归肉身。在这一系列的影像实验中,摄影就像是“叫魂”,而它召唤的远远不止是一个小孩的灵魂,更多的泛指了历史、文化及人性等等。美国著名的汉学家孔飞力(Philip kuhn)最重要的代表作就是叫《叫魂(SoulStealers)》,他描述了一场发生于1768年乾隆盛世下的席卷全国的妖术大恐慌,以“叫魂”事件揭示了所谓盛世下的危机,同时也揭示了传统中国走向近现代悲剧性命运的内在根源。当下的中国,似乎正在重新迎来一个盛世,但其下的危机同样不容忽视,就像在这两组照片中,地戏所处的农村越来越空心化,年轻人都涌向大城市,只剩下老人苦苦支撑传统,所谓传承几乎难以为续;而在城市,年轻的一代只关心全球化带来的潮流,对自身的历史传统一无所知并且不关心,那只所谓潮流偶像文化的巨掌掌握着他们的灵魂。
2007年和2008年,我们又分别在湖南和重庆拍摄了“目连戏”(mulian opera)和“魔兽世界”(world of warcraft)两组照片,从而完成了“叫魂”系列整体架构。
目连戏是中国民间剧团以专演《目连僧救母》剧目的一种传统剧种,是中国戏曲史上第一个有证可考的剧目,因此被视为中国戏曲的鼻祖。目连救母的故事最早载于佛家经典,讲述了目连为救因破戒杀牲而被打入地狱的母亲,前往西天求佛超度,佛祖为他所感,准其皈依沙门,并赐其《盂兰盆经》和锡杖,保护目连游遍十八层地狱,历尽艰险最终寻得母亲,一家团圆超升。剧中造型各异的神鬼角色众多,是中国人对于灵界、轮回、因果相报等超自然观及宗教观的具象塑造。我们将扮演此剧的湖南邵阳祁剧团放置到当地一座有400年历史的古塔前,请他们在同时演出不同的几幕戏,在一幅画面里展现天堂、人间、地狱。拍摄过程中,当地农民在附近焚烧稻秆冒起的阵阵浓烟,更是为这幅作品增添了意想不到的特殊效果。
“魔兽世界”(world of warcraft)则是目前世界上最受欢迎的网络游戏之一,它集合了战争、巫术、原始宗教、妖魔鬼怪等各种刺激而神秘的要素,让数目庞大的游戏玩家疯狂沉迷。我们在重庆拍摄的这组魔兽世界的COSPLAY的扮演者,是中国极富盛名的COSPLAY团队“世纪诺亚”,其成员大多数是本地美术学院和中学的学生,他们自己制作扮演角色的各种服装道具,甚至包括魔兽的硅胶肌肉。我们选择了长江岸边礁石为拍摄场地,昏黄的重庆城市远景为背景,让这些来自史前或者灵异空间的魔兽们,好像是从长江中冒出来,兵临城下,杀向现代都市。
至此,“叫魂”系列在完成了当下最迫切的历史与文化的反思后,更是延伸至人类自身根源乃至超人类的第三维空间的思考和想象,我们也将更加坚定选择摄影这一媒介进行探索,也许,这就是为什么当初摄影会被认为是吸纳灵魂的装置。

This story originates from some dreams of us. At that time we were discussing how to find our origin in some “dreamlands” rooted from history by means of photography. Then, the “Land Play” in Guizhou(west south in china) villages, called “Chinese play’s live fossil ” came into our minds. We hope to use this old play to represent the ancient warfare scene, and let the actors wear masks and then communicate with the historical figures just like what psychics do. Therefore, photography becomes an amazing time machine, moving towards different phases in history.

But as we go deeper and deeper, and the images emerge gradually, our shoot is not only a certain time machine?but more and more like the soulstealing, or say, some installation which could control the souls as what people thought of the time. For example, the character in that portrait (which the Land Play actor holds the mask) is actually a peasant /farmer when he takes him off. However, as the actor faces the camera lens, he shows completely the same expression in his eyes like the spirit beneath the mask. It means, time is mingled through the swift shooting of few hundreth of a second, meanwhile, those ancient spirits penetrate through all the limits and stay still with real people in the films. We also make different troupes into a real natural environment and let them perform the wars of different ages which forms a fairly big scene. Under such conditions, those ancient spirits would gather together from all the dissimilar times. During the whole process of this project, we did not make any change or reconstruction of any character, any article, nor the surroundings. What we have done is only to combine everything above into one picture, and create a magical image mixed with time, humanity, society, culture, nature and the mysterious afterworld by way of photography.

After finishing the Land Play series, we go to another wider and more interesting direction: to explore how the society, culture, environment and politics influence and control us, and how the relationship it is between entitative persons and their spirits. That’s how the COSPLAY series comes. We choose a group of adolescent teenagers and fast-developing Shenzhen city (which is) as young as the people. COSPLAY, also called Costume Play, means the cartoon fans dressing up as anime or manga character. As you’ve seen, the Chinese youngsters in this series are generally all the middle school students. By making up the costume and dress themselves, acting as the anime or manga characters (mostly in Japanese cartoons), they change themselves from a common boy or girl into a super hero (or a devil), and with some strong spiritual and cultural hints, they enter an invented shadowland unrestrictedly. In fact, they have realized part of their dreams as soon as they’re standing in front of the cameras. This “surrealistic” image displays the boundless possibility of photography as an art medium to probe into the relationship between the present and the future on all the levels.

The formation of these two series also formed our thought of shooting images of “soulstealing”. “Soulstealing” is an age-old hypnotherapy among Chinese civilians. If the kids are frightened by something and lose consciousness, the elders will go to the scene at night and call the kid’s name, so as the “lost” spirit would hear the calls and come back to the body. Our shoot is actually the same as “soulstealing” in the above image experiments, which summon ups the history, culture and humanities, etc. Philip kuhn, the famous American Sinologist, in his leading book “Soulstealer”, describes an enormous Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768 during the Qianlong Emperor's reign. The book discloses the crisis of the so-called “times of prosperity”, and the inherent reason why the old China tends towards its latter-day tragic fate.

Nowadays, the new China seems to move towards a new “times of prosperity”, but the crisis should not be ignored. Just like what we exhibited in these two series, the villages where the land play originated become more and more “hollow out”, since young people all rush out to the metropolis, leaving only the old greybeards who sustain the traditions; while in the big cities, young generation whose souls are tightly hold by trendy icon culture, merely care for the vogues brought by globalization, but know nothing about the history and traditions.

After thinking over the historical and cultural problems in our urgent needs, “Soul stealer” series will extend to the origin of our own or the “superhuman third dimension”. We shall firmly persist in using photography to reach our goal, and maybe that’s why the cameras was reckoned as the installation absorbing souls.

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