Written by Cheung Tit Leung, translated by Choi Yi Ling
In documentary film history, using motion pictures as poetry begins in the 20s with Joris Ivens’s Rain (1929) and Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera (1929). The non-narrative realistic motion pictures experiments and explores the underlying structure of the film language. Like a regular poetry, a video poetry delves into and composes the essence of the medium. It reconsiders the function and impact of film in logical, morphological and semiotic perspectives. This reflection is crucial to the documentary development. It is because the documentary film seems to be on the same page with science, the methods of presenting information are in fact against creativity.
What is really against creativity is the rules taken for granted. Taiwanese documentaries and feature films have been equal rivals. As the Taiwanese documentary producer Wang Pai-zhang points out, many of the documentaries are 'pedagogical propaganda works'; also, the scholar Kuo Li-hsin says that the blockbuster documentaries are 'moving entertainment or about sentimental humanistic concerns' to 'attract the sappy Taiwanese audience' and evoke 'coerced emotions’. However, the independent thinking outside mainstream institutions and creative consciousness re-examine the 'common sense’. With many avant-garde documentary organisations in Taiwan, authors continue to record poetically and reconstitute the imagination of 'reality’.
Poetics could be a way to challenge the so-called norm of a documentary film that the 'reality' can only be filmed 'on-the-site' and any further editing, including the reenactment, is rejected. Rethinking documentary as a video poetry questions our contradiction of accepting the 'Police Report' as a kind of realistic program and the resistance of the authenticity of reenactment. The poetics of Le Moulin conveys through reenacting historical scenes and mixing a series of poetry, images and monologues to represent the surrealist group, Le Moulin, during the Japanese colonial period. In contemplation of the relationships of moving image and sound, this video poetry inquires the beginning of the history－ like the 'unknown' brings up in Taiwan by surrealism. The surreal state in Realm of Reverberations is achieved by blurring the boundary between the reality and fiction. In the context of Losheng Sanatorium demolition, four real and fictitious characters’ 'memory' continues, everyone has his or her 'real' emotional responses to it.
As Lin Hsin-i says in 3 Islands, 'even the objective documentary can never record all the historical truth’. The poetics of documentary reminds us that 'the reality welcomes imagination’.
Renov, M. (1993), 'Toward a Poetics of Documentary' in Renov, M. (ed.) Theorizing Documentary, New York, Routledge, pp. 12–36.
蔡倩怡 (2016) ：〈台灣紀錄片：高牆與雞蛋〉，《明周》，2496期，9月10日，頁16-25。