RoCH Redux

30 Years of CFCCA – Susan Pui San Lok: RoCH Fans & Legends
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art ( CFCCA ), Manchester
03.06.16 – 03.07.16

As part of UK-born and -based artist Susan Pui San Lok’s multifaceted RoCH Fans & Legends project, Trailers ( 2015 ), as its title suggests, is a sampling of cinema trailers and title sequences from around twenty different versions of The Condor Trilogy. Originally a new-school wuxia epic by Jin Yong ( a.k.a. Louis Cha ), the trilogy was first published as a serial from 1957 to 1963 in three different Hong Kong newspapers. Since then, the influential classic has spawned over forty different film and television adaptations, with multiple productions and coproductions from China ( including the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan ), Japan and Singapore. More recently, adaptations in video games and comic books, as well as innumerable re-versions, dubs and translations by wuxia fans, have further enabled the global consumption of this popular culture genre. The trilogy’s fictional narrative is set against the backdrop of a series of wars of chivalry fought in the late Yuan Dynasty ( 1271–1368 ), up to the establishment of the Ming Dynasty ( 1368–1644 ). RoCH is the popular acronym for Return of the Condor Heroes, the title of the trilogy’s second novel about the taboo romance between a wuxia master and her younger apprentice.

Undeniably, Lok’s RoCH Fans & Legends is enmeshed in economic and technological considerations about how cultural products are conceptualised, marketed and distributed in the digital era. The worldwide phenomenon of remix has come to be identified as a contentious practice of recombining or reconfiguring preexisting media content, to fabricate a new work that ‘in whatever form or medium it takes place, is concerned with recordings’.1 A deeply research-based transmedia project, RoCH Fans & Legends wrestles with history as personal baggage and artistic material, in its appropriation of already recorded, available sources attached to questions of political and cultural memories and identities. Available online, Trailers, for example, doubles unapologetically as the promotional vehicle for Lok’s 195-minute feature film Trilogies ( 2015 ); it showcases, as trailers should, only the tantalising moments, when male and female xia ( heroes ) are executing gravity-defying qinggong stunts, such as supernatural flying, scaling walls or somersaulting over trees. The leap is paramount here: the freedom that comes with repeated lightness makes escaping the weight of history, or one’s past, thinkable. The leap occurs during any sort of transition between two different ways of life, crucially and decisively shaping and defining who we will become.

Dating back to the thirteenth century, and later appearing in 1920s Shanghai silent movies, wuxia’s popularity in British Hong Kong in the late 1950s and 60s, and its resurgence since the 80s, has been widely attributed to the search for a Hong Kong identity, beginning in the postwar years of social instability that culminated in the 1967 riots instigated by pro-communist protesters against British colonial rule, and the later anxiety around the imminent return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, in 1997. The concurrent rise of the Four Asian Tigers – Hong Kong ( China ), Singapore, Korea and Taiwan ( China ) – during this period would see, in 2000, Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed Taiwanese– Chinese–Hong Kong–American coproduced martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon become the highest grossing foreign film in US history, boosting the product awareness of the wuxia ‘brand’ in general.

Dean Chan has linked the continued popularity of wuxia narratives, and the genre’s uptake by the games industry in particular, to China’s economic rise and new forms of Chinese economic nationalism explicitly cultivating culturally-specific digital content.2 In this context, one other kind of leap needs to be taken into account-that of the resulting transnational movement and circulation of not only people but also goods, capital, technologies, services and ideas within the region and beyond. Strategies of selective repetition and visual mash-ups in Trailers negotiate the diasporic leap of wuxia, as it migrates across time and space, generations and place-attachments, disquiet public spaces and private spheres. Chan notes: ‘Wuxia narratives delineate an imagined cultural China’; they ‘collectively support and substantiate particular fabulations about Chinese cultural identity… as signs of Chineseness-as-difference.’3

In Lok’s Trailers the Google Street View panoramas culled from incessant Internet searches depict the most banal of mixed-use urban neighbourhoods. The scenes, however, are peculiar in that the eating establishments captured within them contain the words ‘empire’, ‘fortune’ and ‘peach’ – words all found in popular classic names for Chinese restaurants. These visual cultural cues are what tie together the two seemingly disparate sets of intercut images: fictive period heroes from antiquity leap over Chinese restaurants in contemporary London ’burbs as easily as they do in imaginary cultural China. What keeps us grounded in reality, however, is nostalgia – clamorous claims to different reconstructed versions of authentic Chineseness, manifested in pirated media and fortune cookies – the latter actually originating in Japan in the late nineteenth century.

From context and articulation to subject matter and conditions of production, the remix aesthetics of RoCH Fans & Legends exemplifies the trans-local experiences of wuxia that are inextricably tied to complex notions of belonging in Asian diasporas – floating, multiple and unstable variations on a theme. The ‘floating life’ metaphor is commonly used in reference to the perilous route of the exilic, the refugee ( boat people ) or the pre-handover economic emigration of flexible citizens ( yacht people ) in Hong Kong, such as the family portrayed in Chinese–Australian Clara Law’s 1996 film, Floating Life. In the case of Trailers, the metaphor – the cultural conditioning of drifting, connecting, hovering – can also be extended to a discussion of the relationship between wuxia and what Jean Duruz calls ‘floating food’ in her study of micro-narratives of ‘Asian’ food consumed in a North London kitchen.4

Duruz’s analysis of ‘floating food’, to complicate ‘conventional identity categories and their place attachments’,5 provides a useful premise for contextualising the references made here to Chinese food. Both floating media ( or mediated diasporic public spheres ) and mobile food can be said to be embroiled in what Graham Huggan argues is the ‘constitutive split within the postcolonial, the entanglement of its ostensibly anti-imperial ideologies within a global economy that often manipulates them to neo-imperial ends’ – without postcolonialism, which ‘concerns largely localised agencies of resistance’, or postcoloniality, which ‘refers to a global condition of cross-cultural symbolic exchange’, and exonerates voyeuristic consumption of the Other, as exotic spectacle.6 As Huggan notes, the discourse of the postcolonial exotic has become one of the main ways the booming alterity industry, until recently managed mostly by and for the West, processes cultural difference in a range of forms toward its commercialisation.7

Despite the workings of late capitalism on postcoloniality, RoCH Fans & Legends suggests the popularity of wuxia never entirely resided in the realm of transnational consumption, driven by the alterity industry. Rather, its travelling has also been tethered to diasporic leaps that have trans-local dimensions, such as the circulation and spatial interconnectedness of situated mobile actors as well as the way ‘‘‘floating’’ food, as the mobility of memory and imagination for charting foodscapes of belonging and intimacy, allows new places for temporary anchorage and, perhaps, different forms of identity re-alignment’.8 The political economy of ( mostly invisible and informal ) networks of production and distribution of ‘foreign films’ link different Asian diasporic communities in their shared interest to consume affordable derivatives of the same images circulated as ‘poor images’ ( to use Hito Steyerl’s term ) in the privacy of their homes, accompanied, of course, by ‘ethnic’ food, more authentic than in the home country, ‘available for diasporic digestion’, as Duruz puts it.9 This is not to say that the diasporic reconnections through these cultural practices are immune to what Lisa Lau defines as re-orientalism, the perpetration of self-orientalising tendencies.10 They are not, of course, but what is at issue here is how, to borrow from José Esteban Muñoz, there also tends to be a simultaneous pushback to dis-identify, to perform a re-circuitry;11 it just depends who is in the driver’s seat.

‘To think difference and to think remix differently’, David Gunkel notes that ‘mash-ups produce or deploy short circuits in the networks of popular culture by deliberately crossing two or more seemingly incompatible sources’.12 Insofar as Lok’s RoCH Fans & Legends project instrumentalises Big Data ( data sets so high in velocity, volume and variety that they require advanced information technologies to process them ), with its simultaneous searchability and disambiguation, and its ability to address the transnational consumption of wuxia, it also unexpectedly corrals a viewership towards a localised diasporic site of everyday practices and cultural consumption. Through the use of what are the essentially grounded, geospatial technologies of Google Street View, Trailers is not virtual tourism but an identity journey. It is virtually pieced together from preexisting sources, in playful contention with the alterity industry, at the same time as resisting it, through considered selection and repetition. The transnational consumption of wuxia hinges upon the marked ambivalence to Asian alterity and the seemingly effortless ability of its cultural adaptations to circulate in global operating networks. In RoCH Fans & Legends the lithe bodies of its leaping protagonists do not deny the effects of the gravity of the diasporic spaces they find themselves in. Instead, they suggest innumerable, cyclical episodes of micro-narratives that more often than not short circuit presumptions that world-making practices are so freely negotiable.

1. David Gunkel, Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics After Remix, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 2016, p. xxvii.
2. Dean Chan, ‘Playing with Indexical Chineseness: The Transnational Cultural Politics of Wuxia in Digital Games’, EnterText 6, no. 1 ( Autumn 2006 ), p. 182, available at
3. Ibid., pp. 182–83.
4. Jean Duruz, ‘Floating Food: Eating “Asia” in Kitchens of the Diaspora’, Emotion, Space and Society 3, no. 11 ( 2006 ), pp. 45–49.
5. Ibid., p. 48.
6. Graham Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins, Routledge, London 2001, p. ix.
7. Ibid., p. 68.
8. Duruz, p. 48.
9. Ibid.
10. Lisa Lau, ‘Re-Orientalism: The Perpetration and Development of Orientalism by Orientals’, Modern Asian Studies 43, no. 2 ( 2009 ), pp. 571–90.
11. José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1999, p. 31.
12. Gunkel, pp. 156, 158, citing Slavoj Žižek.


中国当代艺术中心30年 金 骆佩珊:“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”
2016年6月3日 – 2016年7月3日

《预告片》( 2015 ),是出生并常驻英国的艺术家骆佩珊( Susan Pui San Lok )层次多样的项目《神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇》中的一部分,它如题所示的由大约20个版本的《射雕三部曲》的电影预告及标题片段组合而成。《射雕三部曲》是金庸的新武侠史诗小说,最早连载于1957年到1963年间三种不同的香港报纸。从那时开始,这部影响深远的经典作品就被改编成超过四十个版本的电影和电视剧,制作与合作片方遍及中国各地,以及日本和新加坡。近几年来,游戏和漫画书的改编,以及无数由武侠粉丝们自发制作的重新剪辑、配音和翻译的版本,都进一步使这一流行文化成为了全球范围内的消费品。《三部曲》的故事背景设置在元朝( 1271-1368 )末年至明朝( 1368-1644 )建朝初期的一系列战争当中。项目标题中的RoCH是“射雕英雄之回归( Return of the Condor Heroes )”的首字母缩写,对应了《三部曲》中极受欢迎的第二部《神雕侠侣》的英译,故事讲述了一段在武侠师父与她年轻徒儿之间的禁忌之爱。

不可否认的是,骆佩珊在“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”中所投入的,是事关数码时代中文化产品如何被概念化、市场化和经营分销的诸多经济和技术方面的思考。世界范围内的“混编( remix )”现象,已经成为一种较有争议的实践,人们对预先存在的媒体内容进行重新组合或配置,以制作出“无论发生在何种形式或媒介之中都涉及记录”的新作品。1“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”是一个以深度研究为基础的跨媒介项目,它对预先记录好的、唾手可得的资料进行挪用,围绕着有关政治文化记忆与身份的问题展开,以此来与作为个人包袱和艺术素材的历史进行相互角力。举例来说,《预告片》可以在网络被观看,它本身是一件作品,同时并行不悖地作为骆佩珊全片长达195分钟的《三部曲》( 2015 )的宣传推广,正如预告片该有的面貌那样,它所展现的只是一些极其诱人的时刻,比如这对神雕侠侣的各种轻功动作,像是超自然飞行、攀墙、在树上翻筋斗等等。



Dean Chan将武侠叙事的持久流行以及这一门类在游戏产业中的发展势头,同中国的经济崛起相联系,而中国经济民族主义的新形式确实在明确地培养特定文化的数码内容。2在这样的背景下,另一种类型的飞跃同样需要被纳入考虑金不仅仅是人,还有囊括了这个地区内外的商品、资本、技术、服务和想法的跨国移动及周转流通。在《预告片》中,选择性重复和视觉混搭的策略,调和了武侠中那些流散的( diasporic )飞跃弹跳动作,因为它在时间和空间、世代和地点的附着物( place-attachments )、不安的公共空间和私人领域之间穿梭移动。Chan写道:“武侠的种种叙事都在描绘一个想象中的文化中国”,它们“共同支持并证实了有关中国文化身份的特定构想即,将中国性作为差异的符号”。3


从语境和表达,到主题和制作条件,“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”的混搭美学体现了武侠跨地域性的体验,同时不可避免地与亚洲侨民归属感的复杂问题相关联金这些体现为在同一个主题上延展出的各种流动、多样而不稳定的变化。“漂泊的人生”一词,是在指涉被驱逐的人、难民( 船工 )或是香港回归前弹性公民们( flexible citizens )经济移民现象常用的一个表达,比如中国/澳大利亚导演罗卓瑶( Clara Law )拍摄于1996年的电影《浮生》。在《预告片》中,这个隐喻金漂移、联接、悬停的文化条件金还可以被扩展到有关武侠与“漂浮食物( floating food )”之间关系的讨论中,后者是让杜鲁兹( Jean Duruz )在她有关伦敦北部一间餐厅中所被消费的“亚洲”食物的微观叙述中用到的术语。4

杜鲁兹对“漂浮食物”的分析使得“传统身份划分以及它们地点的附着物”5更为复杂,并为此处有关中国食物之指涉的背景提供了颇有助益的前提。流媒体,或者说经过了调停的离散的公共领域,与流动的食物,这两者都可以说是卷入了格兰汉姆霍根( Graham Huggan )所论述的“在后殖民主义中的建构性分裂,它表面上反帝国主义的意识形态与其通常被操控成新帝国主义终端的全球经济,这两者互相缠绕堂没有了“很大程度上关注抵抗之本土化中介机制”的后殖民主义( postcolonialism ),“指涉跨文化符号交换之全球条件”的后殖民性( postcoloniality )也就放弃了要把窥视他者的消费当作一种异国情调的景观。6正如霍根所提及的,后殖民之异域情调的话语已经成为了促成变革行业的主要方式之一,这些话语直至今天仍然绝大多数都由西方掌控、并为西方所用,它们将文化差异消化成一系列最终导向商业化的形式。7

撇开晚期资本主义针对后殖民性的工作,“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”提出了武侠的流行从来都没全然地栖居于由变革行业引领的跨国消费领域。相反,它的四处游历也被局限到了具有跨地区维度的离散跳跃之中,例如流动的行动者们的流通周转以及他们在空间上的互相联结,同样如此的还有“作为记忆和想象力的‘漂浮食物’,它们描绘了归属感和亲密感的食物图谱,并且允许短暂停泊的新地点,以及,或许还有各种重新调整身份的方式。”8“外国电影”( 绝大多数不可见且不正式 )的制作与分销网络所体现出的政治经济,通过受众共享的趣味而联结起了不同的亚洲离散社群,他们有兴趣消费的是那些像“坏图像”,在此引用黑特史德耶尓( Hito Steyerl )的术语,一样流转的、可以负担得起的、图像的衍体,他们待在私密的家里,当然还有“民族特色”食物相伴,用杜鲁兹的话来说,是“离散者可消化的”比家乡风味更正宗的食物。9这并不是要说明,通过这些文化实践重新连接起来的离散形式,可以免疫于Lisa Lau所定义的“新-东方主义( re-orientalism )”,也就是那些自我东方化倾向的行为。10它们当然不是,不过值得在此讨论的问题是,借用何塞埃斯特邦穆诺兹( José Esteban Muñoz )所说的,同时还存在一种向后倒退的“去-身份( dis-identify )”所表现出的重新流转( re-circuitry ),11而它取决于由谁来掌控方向。

“用不一样的想法来思考差异和混杂”,大卫根克尔( David Gunkel )注意到,“混合拼接的事物会通过两个或多个看起来并不兼容的资料来源的交叉,在流行文化网络中生成或部署出短路( short circuits )”。12鉴于骆佩珊的“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”项目对大数据( 数据集在容量、数量和种类上的繁多与庞杂使其必须使用先进的信息技术来处理 )及其同步搜索和歧义消除都进行了工具化,以此涉及武侠跨国消费的议题,同时它还出其不意地捕捉到了一种观看方式,这种观看所导向的是日常实践与文化消费的一种本土化了的离散据点。通过运用谷歌街景这种非常基础的地理空间技术,《预告片》并不是一次虚拟旅行,而是一场身份的游历,它通过虚拟的方式将预先存在的资源碎片拼接起来,这些资源在其运动中不断地与变革产业共舞,但也同时通过有考量的选择与重复来抵抗变革产业。武侠的跨国消费取决于亚洲本身变化之显而易见的矛盾,此外还有其文化适应于全球网络之流通周转的这种看起来轻而易举的能力。在“神雕侠侣的粉丝与传奇”中,飞身跳跃的主角们轻盈的肢体并没有否认空间中重力的作用,相反,他们提议的是无数周期性的微观叙事的片段,相比于那些建造世界的实践能够进行自在协商的这种短路预设,它们其实更为常见。

1. 大卫根克尔,《有关混合学:混合之后的伦理与美学》,剑桥:麻省理工学院出版社,2016年,xxvii页。
2. Dean Chan,“与索引的中国性嬉戏:数码游戏中武侠的跨国文化政治”,EnterText 6,No.1( 2006年秋 ),第182页。HYPERLINK
3. 同上,第182-183页。
4. 让杜鲁兹,《漂浮食物:在散居的厨房里食用“亚洲”》,《情感、空间与社会》3,No.11( 2006年 ),第45-49页。
5. 同上,第48页。
6. 格兰汉姆霍根,《后殖民的异国情调:营销边界》,伦敦:罗德里奇出版社,2001年,第9页。
7. 同上,第68页。
8. 杜鲁兹,第48页。
9. 同上。
10. lisa Lau,《新东方主义:东方主义者的东方主义的恶行与发展》,《当代亚洲研究》43,No.2( 2009年 ),第571-591页。