Outside of Art
On the original timeline, my character design and storyline should have been set in the capital city. However, when the pandemic started, I was swept up in the rolling “white terror“, risking being taken away for “quarantine” at any time and spending my days on the internet shouting at the inhuman “whiteness” and filming the government‘s inaction. Because I repeatedly refused to go downstairs to queue for nucleic acid tests, I was accused of “provoking trouble” and was “forcibly isolated“…
But in reality, I was inadvertently separated… My new directorial film “Migration” was halted for release. After many unsuccessful negotiations, I took my family and began traveling out of frustration. At first, it was just to soothe my emotions through travel. After touring southern Europe, I landed in the Philippines, shortly before the outbreak of COVID–19 in October 2019…
I had experienced Beijing‘s SARS outbreak in 2003, which soon passed. Therefore, I made the decisive decision not to return to Beijing. At that time, I had a now–laughable belief that the tropical heat would easily kill the virus, making it impossible to spread in tropical areas. It was truly ridiculous… but everything began from there…
Looking back on that period, the first six months were the most difficult to endure. Hopes were shattered time and time again, watching the Philippine government issue a new home policy every ten days, then another ten days… Watching the soaring infection numbers every day, with no signs of improvement. Suddenly, I felt that this epidemic was becoming more and more unusual. My inner self began to become restless. The only reassuring thing was that the epidemic prevention and control policies in the Philippines were particularly mild. Even when the strictest prevention and control measures were in place, only one person per household was allowed to go out to purchase essential goods.
It lasted for about a month, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day, when I could not go out. The place where I lived was adjacent to the coastal road along Manila Bay. I almost went out for a walk every day…
It should have been before the Omicron variant, but I cut off all contacts outside of my family because I lived with my 70–year–old parents, and I was most worried about them getting infected. I wore a mask when I went out, and I was always spraying alcohol. I would take a shower and change my clothes every time I went out. As it turned out, this set of preventive measures really worked, and all five members of my family passed through safely.
Before the emergence of the Omicron variant, I had cut off all social interactions outside of my family. Living with my 70–year–old parents, I was most worried about them getting infected. I wore a mask when going out and constantly sprayed alcohol, and as soon as I left the house, I made sure to shower and change clothes. As it turned out, this combination of preventive measures really worked, and my family of five all safely made it through.
In terms of information, I had become accustomed to the YouTube, Twitter, Facebook…Google ecosystem and had blocked Tencent‘s news push notifications. It was during this time that I seemed to have seen the “truth“. I was repulsed by the slogans and grand narratives that people spouted without thinking. I had used a proxy VPN to “climb over the wall” before, and I had been conflicted and tangled. But never before had I felt so strongly.
For the first time in my life, I had such a long and quiet period of contemplation. Perhaps the occurrence of this event was destined by some mysterious force to create a condition for some people to quiet down and think, and I happened to be among them…
I am grateful for the ocean here, which fills 71% of the earth‘s surface, just like the indispensable 70% of water in my body. Saying this might sound too artistic and insincere, but it is the closest description of my feeling towards the ocean after thinking it over. I was born in the inland area on the border between Shanxi and Hebei and went to school and work in Beijing. The first time I saw the ocean was in 2005, when I was already 25 years old, and what I saw was the sea of Bohai Bay, which was polluted and blackened… For a long time, I had always thought that the beautiful and clean ocean was an illusion… But here, I witnessed the real and beautiful ocean.
My soul and body have found their home. In order to restore this feeling of “rebirth“, I took my neighbor friends to the sea during the pandemic to film “Rebirth” (video link: https://youtu.be/wKqpd24GDuo). At the same time, during that period, I had my own understanding of this space. This was also the first time I spoke it out: Look at our world, except it‘s not heaven, everything can be. Watching the tangible and intangible killings and devourings among carbon-based organisms, it is a form of mutual repayment after owing each other energy.
In Chinese mythology, “Shang Dao Shan” in the underworld is where cattle and sheep are chopped into small pieces and thin slices, “Xia Huo Hai” is the barbecue of chicken, duck, beef and mutton, and “Guo You Guo” is where everything can be turned into tempura. These are all true depictions of hell, visible and tangible, and all of this happens in our
world, where some of us play the role of executioners. We have woven together the underworld and our world, and our experiences of birth, aging, illness, and death undoubtedly hover between the two. The only thing we can do is to stay as far away from hell as possible. As for heaven, it may be beyond reach for some things and just a thought away for others.
From birth, it seems that I have been trying very hard to blend into various groups and participate in game modes dictated by others. I repeatedly recite the standard answers set by others and often torment my soul and body because I am not familiar with other people’s game modes…I should follow my own game mode. I pitch my tent above the highest tide line at the beach, and as long as there is fresh water, I can live here indefinitely. I just need to hold my breath and dive into the ocean, and at a depth of only 10 meters, it feels like returning to the womb, or in simpler terms, entering my mother’s belly.
Two minutes, although only two minutes, can make you feel like time is dragging on. It’s long enough for you to think about so many things, because time is truly relative, and even if time stops, thinking can still continue.
The pandemic will eventually pass after three years, and now it’s 2023, a new beginning. My family and I now live in Japan, where we still can’t see heaven. But we are farther away from hell.
I am Li Yuyang, a filmmaker and multimedia artist. I lived in China from 1981 to 2018, the Philippines from 2019 to 2023, and from 2023 onwards, I reside in Japan.
原本的時間線上，我的人物設定和故事線應該在帝都，疫情開始後，我被席捲在滾滾的“白色恐怖”中，冒著隨時被拉去“隔離”的風險，成天在網絡上喊話無人性的“大白” ，拍視頻紀錄政府的不作為。因屢次拒絕下樓排隊核酸，被“尋釁滋事” 、被“強制隔離” ……
資訊方面，完全習慣了YouTube 、Twitter 、F acebook …… google生態。屏蔽了騰訊推送的新聞。也就是在那個時候，我似乎看到了“真相” ，那些慣以張嘴就來的口號和宏大敘事的形式讓我反感。我之前也使用代理VPN“翻牆” ，也矛盾，也糾結。但是從來沒有過這麼強烈。