many of you couldn’t make it to the opening, where i gave this talk, so i thought i’d post it here on the blog
the weather today is really too good to be inside. if only i weren’t at this opening, i would certainly go down to the “space of fifty steps,” maybe to micekiw or to micelem, or maybe just to “buy butterflies” (that is mafoti’, sleep) on the beach–it would all be good. but here we are inside (sigh). still, i have a beautiful mood, because tomorrow we can always go there to pakelang, right?
提到八個浪，那是阿美族的習俗，一般在結束每一種重要的任務、喜事喪事、節慶、祭典、重量工作，都要跟親朋好友一起去海邊洗海水才可以回到常態，這習俗叫做pakelang，人類學家會說pakelang是重參入祭典 (ritual of reincorporation) 的一種，八個浪很好玩，但是，更重要是八個浪會讓我們體會到，海岸很特別，海岸有魔術，更有重力／吸引力 (gravity)。講一個例子跟你們聽，大前年，我在波士頓，剛好可以趁都蘭阿美族藝術家Siki Sufin去紐約表演，就將他和姍姍一起拐上來學校跟我的學生互動，我們的活動結束的第二天，Siki便對我說，「嘿阿德，去哪裡我們阿八個浪？」，好在我已經六分美化，已經看上了波士頓北郊那裡的一片很美麗的海岸，很多螺類那裡，所以那天中午我們去泡泡水，撿海螺，休息，讓大西洋的水，大西洋的風洗掉忙活動的所有疲勞，海洋將活動期間靠近我們的一切送出去，海洋使我們能夠收起心來面對日常生活，真是個美好的下午
pakelang is an ‘amis custom. usually after any sort of important work, the kinds of duties one might have for funerals or weddings, celebrations, rituals, or difficult tasks, anything that takes one out of one’s normal activities, one should go with friends and family to the beach to wash in the ocean. only after washing in the ocean can one return to everyday life. this ritual is called a “pakelang.” it is what most anthropologists would call a ritual of reincorporation.
pakelang are very fun, but most importantly they cause us to realize that the ocean is special. the ocean has a kind of magic and its own gravity. to take an example, i once piggybacked on my friend siki sufin’s visit to new york to invite him to interact with my students at berklee. the day after we finished our work, siki turned to me and said, “hey, a-te, where will we pakelang?” fortunately, by then i was already familiar with pakelang, so i had just the place picked out, a beautiful spot on the north shore with good shellfish for the gathering. so we got into the car and headed over to splash in the water, collect whelks, and rest. the atlantic ocean’s water washed away our fatigue. the ocean let us send off whatever it was–with or without form–that was in contact with us during the event. the ocean let us pull ourselves together mentally to face everyday life again. it was really a beautiful afternoon
so, you see, to ‘amis the ocean is not the landscape with which you might be familiar. the ocean is a larder, a panacea. the ocean is life. the ocean is mother. she has generation after generation sustained the bodies of the people and nurtured their spirits. the ocean is not a beautiful view that you can buy with money, much less is the ocean a resource awaiting development. the ocean plays an important role, it is an active subject: it is the core of an ethical imagination, this “space of fifty steps”
這樣說, ‘Amis 藝術家面對海洋創作，非偶然，而且並不完全是反應近年來海岸一日BOT一日問題的「議題作品」，比如說Hana Kliw在2013-2014年的作品「禮物。祝福」在Pacifalan默默得出現，同樣慢慢得消失，但是這作品是個顯明的例子，這個作品很有意義，因為Hana以‘Amis 婦女傳統換工mapaliw方式召集一群部落女性一起編織彩虹色的毛線布，然後套在Pacifalan的一棵樹，幾粒石頭，好像在告知：「我們一直在這裏，您所看到的海岸，不是慌慌待開發的空地，而是族人一代一代，用我們的勞力，血汗淚水來互相愛護、生存的海洋和土地」
that said, that ‘amis artists create works on the ocean is neither idle coincidence, nor are these works just “issue related” political works responding to BOT developments and other land concerns. for example, Hana Kliw’s 2013-2014 group of works “Gift.Blessing” silently appeared at Pacifalan and slowly vanished. But it is an interesting example of an ‘Amis approach to the ocean and to art.
Hana employed a traditional mode of labour sharing among ‘Amis women (mapaliw) to gather a group of women in the ‘Atolan ‘Amis community to knit rainbow colored sheaths which Hana then used to wrap two trees and several rocks at Pacifalan. The works seemed to say to those who saw them, “We are still here. The shore that you see is not a wasteland awaiting development. My people have from generation to generation used their labour, love, sweat, blood and tears to live in mutual care and subsistence with this land.”
Yes, not just the people caring for each other and subsisting on the land, but the people and the land in a relationship of mutual cultivation and nurture. We can have such a relationship of mutual nurture with the ocean; moreover, it is only inasmuch as we develop such a relationship with the ocean that we malatamdaw (become human). our humanity is constantly being reproduced there in the “space of fifty steps”
ciRahic的五十步空間，更強調海洋給予我們一個成為人的位置kamalatamdawan，他的作品也從觀察，勞動，撿拾的動作著手。如果陪Kaka ciRahic去海邊mipodpod，你會看得很清楚，五十步空間，其實是日常生活在藝術領域的影子，就是說，日常生活中的一種靈魂，Rahic的動作跟族人去海邊撿貝類，撿海菜的動作很像，只是Rahic找到的，有一點不一樣，可能是環境危機的警告，又可能是快被遺忘的神話故事，可能是我們迷失方向，並需要返回的，如何malatamdaw的道路。在一步一步，在一布又一布，在一幅又一幅，ciRahic很意識地，取用生存技能，mipodpod a mipodpod。當他找到海洋的文字，我相信他所看到的，也是我們每次去海邊micekiw會看到的， 我們好像會看到老人給我們留下的文字，告訴我們「aka picarikos!」haan , 「limla’en to ko riyar niyam」 haan naira kita，只可惜我們早已忘記如何看，我們已經麻木了，已經看不懂無形有形之間，老人留下的文字。而那些文字，就在五十步空間。ciRahic的作品，為了我們將那些文字，再次出現，再次詮釋
Rahic Talif’s work, “the space of fifty steps” underscores that the ocean gives us a place to become human, a kamalatamdawan. He begins these works with observation, labour, and the act of picking things up / gathering. If you were to accompany Rahic to mipodpod (gather), you would see clearly that his “space of fifty steps” is a reflection, in art, of an everyday act of subsistence, which is to say, following the ‘amis word for reflection ‘adingo, also a spirit found in everyday subsistence activity.
Rahic’s actions are so mundane, just like the actions that ‘Amis make when they go to the beach to gather shellfish (micekiw) or to gather sea vegetables. the difference is that Rahic picks up different things. They look like plastics, glass, and other discarded items that have floated to the shore. In his hands they might be warnings of ecological crisis, or nearly forgotten legends. They might even be a trace of the road we’ve forgotten, the path we’ve lost, the path to malatamdaw. Step by step, canvas after canvas, picture after picture, Rahic consciously employs subsistence skills, mipodpod a mipodpod.
when he discovers the ocean’s writing, I believe that what he finds is something that we see every time we go down to the beach to collect shellfish. We seem to see the writing the elders left behind as we gather, to hear the elders saying to us, aka picarikos haan, limlaen to ko riyar niyam haan naira kita. It’s just that we’ve long forgotten how to see. We have become numb, insensate, and have already lost the ability to read the writing that the elders, between form and formlessness, left behind for us.
this writing is in this “space of fifty steps.” Rahic’s art brings this writing back to us, reinterpreting it and showing it to us more clearly.
“the space of fifty steps” is a sign to show us the way to find the elder’s wisdom
講到我聲音作品的概念，應該是說，我自己當時在從事兩種podpod（撿拾）的工作： （1）搜集海岸線，特別是1970-1980年代遠洋漁業的故事、歌謠、聲音景觀，（2）跟我的「同學」(kapot; 同年齡階層朋友) 一起去海邊micekiw，我們都在潛水撿海膽、放網的勞動中，學習做一個人malatamdaw。我們來去海邊經常會看到ciRahic撿拖鞋和各種各樣的垃圾，自言自語似地，跟海洋對話。「wata: ko masingki koya maisokat!」我們有時覺得，但是，因為我們知道kaka ciRahic射魚聽說很厲害，而且當時是我們同學的爸爸，都蘭部落老老頭目，所喜歡的模範青年，再加kaka下棋有驚人的技巧，所以我們覺得這位來自Makota’ay的kaka很酷
you may be interested in how i became involved in this project and what the concept was behind my work in this exhibit. i should say that at the time, and even now, i am also involved in two kinds of “gathering” podpod work: (1) i am collecting soundscapes of taiwan’s east coast, collecting songs and stories of the 1970s-1980s far ocean fishing trade; (2) i often go with my “classmates” (that is to say my kapot or age mates) to the ocean to gather shellfish (micekiw). in our work as we dive for urchins, set nets, or spearfish we learn how to malatamdaw. the ocean and our companionship teach us.
we often see rahic down there as he picks up flip flops and other strange plastic garbage, singing, drawing, and chanting as if talking to the ocean and to himself. wata: ko masingki koya maisokat! what an odd bird, this artist! we often think, but because our big brother rahic, so we hear was quite skillful with speargun and as he was a model youth favored by a late village headman, the father of one of our age mates, we had to admit that this elder brother from makota’ay was cool. besides he has mad chess skills. so we knew he was on to something
i met rahic through mutual friends. because rahic had as a youth also run the far ocean fishing boats, i had wanted to interview him about his experience. going to his workshop with my recording equipment i was not prepared to see his work in progress. when i saw “the space of fifty steps” i found the work intriguing and also thought that if i had the chance to go with rahic to the ocean to document his process there it might be interesting. at the time, my thinking was quite simple: i just wanted to document. because i had seen him now and again at the beach, i knew that his process was meaningful; so i thought, i wanted to record his work, and maybe out of that work get a better sense of ‘Amis affective connections with the ocean. that was something that i needed in my own process of malatamdaw and increasingly a focus of my research
when i went with rahic to the beach, i discovered that the drawings and stamps on each canvas are like the writing left behind by those form and formless elders: in the background of each canvas is an entire process, and each canvas is just a set of traces left by the process of observation, gathering / picking up, and dialogue. as i recorded, what i wanted was a complete recording and not a perfect one. there are too many uncontrollable variables on the ocean, so one can never get a perfectly clean recording, particularly as one is following rahic around. so the most important thing for me was to record all of the components of the soundscape: the sound of the ocean and the village that day, the sounds of going down to the beach, the sounds of rahic working there, and the sounds of his dialogues with the ocean
除了這些以外，還有更難錄的：最困難是如何錄音對話在聲音景觀中的附加性質 (emergent properties), 那些在對話過程中突然出現的變化，意義，等。ciRahic跟海洋的對話，這些附加性質，有時候屬於一種聲音記憶，比如，漂流木上面的線條讓人想起老老頭目像海浪一樣起起落落的歌聲。一個對話既然在聲音景觀會有附加性質，在剪編聲音時，我不想真實紀錄，卻要讓你們在一個特別的聽覺空間體會到海洋如何回答，除了Rahic唱歌，唸詞，說故事的聲音，會有其他聲音出現，這些聲音，好像是海洋的聲音 ngiha no riyar （注意：ngiha 跟 soni 不同，族人了解有意識，靈魂主題的聲音跟一般聲音不同，所以有分），在這五十步空間。如果您開始在ciRahic跟海洋的對話中開始注意到海洋的ngiha，我希望您對台灣東海岸，也對包圍我們台灣的太平洋，有不同的感受。如果您未能體會海洋是我們的母親，是否可以想，我們malatamdaw 成為人的過程中，不可缺是海洋的智慧，我們能不能夠成為人，確實靠我們如何培養一種社會環境倫理，在這五十步空間
in addition, there was something else, something more difficult to record, the emergent properties of rahic’s dialogues as they interact with the ocean. and i had to think of these properties, what would emerge or could emerge when a version of this recording was placed in an installation, first at taipei moca and now here. these emergent properties are the transformations that occur in the process of dialogue in a particular place of or for hearing, the meanings that emerge as we interact with and through a soundscape. in rahic’s dialogues with the ocean some of these emergent properties included sonic memories, such as lines in a piece of driftwood that reminded rahic of the voice of the late headman, which rose and fell like swells on the ocean. because of the presence of these sonic memories and emergent properties, i did not want to create a realist depiction of rahic’s dialogues in the space of fifty steps. rather, as i edited i thought about how to give you a peculiar place of hearing in which you could feel the ocean’s response to rahic and to us. so in addition to the sound of rahic singing, chanting, or telling stories, i have layered in other sounds, which are like the ngiha no riyar the voice of the ocean.
here, i should add that ngiha, rather than soni, shows a distinction in ‘amis language between non-linguistic, non-intentional sounds, such as the songs of birds or the sound of wind, and sounds made by creatures with souls and intellect. to use ngiha for the sound of the ocean is to make the ocean a subject in relationship to us, a partner in dialogue. and so, the sound of the ocean might be songs remembered by rahic or other elements of human speech layered into the sound of waves. we can hear the ngiha of the ocean in the “space of fifty steps.”
if you can begin to hear this voice in rahic’s dialogues with the ocean, i hope that you will begin to notice and to care more deeply for the east coast and for the pacific ocean that encircles our island country. perhaps you cannot yet feel that the ocean is our mother. however, i hope that you will consider that in our process of malatamdaw we cannot lack the ocean’s wisdom. our ability to become human depends upon whether, and how, we have cultivated a socioenvironmental ethics in, and toward, this space of fifty steps
listen to the piece from soundcloud (above)