Chinese artist Yang Yongliang is famous for his photography and digital works in which he interweaves the structures of modern cities with the scenery of traditional Chinese landscape.
Yang’s signature style (Phantom Landscape III – Pages No.1 45 × 45 cm, Giclee print)
Lesser known is his 2015 video project, Fall Into Oblivion | 陌 入 止 境, which features kendo. Shot mainly in Tokyo, the movie shows a kenshi who chases after the mythological 3-legged raven, and his inner self.
Yang explains: In a lucid dream, there is a pair of joined islands above the sea horizon. Ocean tide rises mildly when a sacred three-legged raven lands on the shore, then there follows the man in kendo armor. The man wakes up with a heavy headache in an abandoned attic upon the city center. He wonders whether he was then dreaming of a raven by the shore, or whether he is now the raven, dreaming he is an obsolescent warrior trapped in a busy metropolis.
Covered rigorously in a kendo mask, the man appears to have an ambition with nowhere to express. He displays a predecessor’s uniform in the bedroom; within the hanging mask, there seems to be a cluster of dark feathers trembling like imprisoned spirits. Chasing after the tripedal raven’s guide, the man in kendo armor eventually meets his predecessor by the shore. He seems to be a rival, but actually more of a previous self. It’s only when one achieves the end would he realize that the answers to his questions have already been told along the journey.
The narrative expresses Tao Yuanming’s longing of solitude exemplified in “Peach Blossom Spring”. It also introduces Zhuangzi’s paradox of “Dream of Butterfly” from “On the Equality of Things”. The man in armor leads the audience the way the tripedal raven has led him. Along with him, we drown in the stress of current lives and scenarios. Onward with him, we are challenged by our other selves. Being with him, we reflect the warmth and bid farewell.
The movie runs for 58 minutes. A teaser is available online:
Yang Yongliang’s website: www.yangyongliang.com