A Man After Midnight
臨風高歌

A Man After Midnight, three channel video installation and photograph 2016

A Man After Midnight, three channel video installation and photograph 2015

The eponymous work A Man after Midnight was inspired by a photo in an early reference book on color-television technology. This work insinuates the variety show “Singing against the Wind” hosted by Frankie Kao (Kao Ling-Feng) between 1980 and 1983. This photo rekindled Su’s memory of this Saturday night show of the moment. This variety show was a rare spectacle at a time for its magnificent lighting wall and overwhelming dancer troupe, alongside two groups of chorus and an exclusive orchestra composed of a dozen members. Kao not only hosted the show, but also took charge of singing, dancing and playlet. It was not only the peak of Kao’s career in the 1980s but also su hui-yu’s most vivid childhood memory of Saturday nights.

As one of the pioneering performers who emulated the Western disco style, Kao not only introduced a new form of pop music to Taiwan by adapting and covering Western songs, but also endorsed the straightforward, undisguised lust and corporality embedded in disco music. Nonetheless, Kao’s songs failed to pass the cultural censorship from time to time, since Taiwanese society was still under martial law in the early 1980s, an age when entertainment was demanded to be enlightening.

The magnificent spectacle of Kao’s early variety show served as a stark contrast to the miserable twilight years of his stage career,_ which is exactly the kernel image that the artist attempts to convey through the work A Man after Midnight(After the show “Singing against the Wind” ended its run, Frankie Kao was entangled in mafia circles, being prisoned for illegal possession of firearms, and ergo suffered a force-out by television companies. What made his situation worse was that the cabarets he invested in were either closed down or proscribed by formal decree during the late 1990s. After a fifteen-year break-off, Kao resumed his stage career with political cosplay.). Su replaced the scene in this work with that of the only remaining red envelop club in Ximending — The Phoenix Grand Cabaret, and provided the instrumental accompaniment of Kao’s hit song The Annoying Autumn Winds. This song was adapted from the best-selling single Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight) released by the popular Swedish band ABBA in 1979. The original lyrics depicted a woman who watched television for most of the night, expecting an ideal man to come out of the world of fantasy from the television and take her away from the suffocating reality. In Kao’s adapted version, the lyrics were modified to represent the call of a man to his lover who has gone away. What remains in the coda of this video are the instrumental accompaniment and the frustrated singer who seems disoriented on a step chair as if living in another parallel universe.

《臨風高歌》的靈感來自於一本早年關於彩色電視技術的工具書內的一張照片,展示著1980-83年間藝人高凌風所主持的同名綜藝節目。這張照片勾起了蘇匯宇的回憶。這個當年打造紅極一時的週六晚間節目,有著當代少見的排場:燈光牆、舞群、兩組合音天使,以及十多位成員組成的華視大樂隊。高凌風則一人橫跨主持、歌舞與短劇演出。這是高凌風在1980年代的事業顛峰,也是蘇匯宇童年時期印象最深刻的週末夜場景。

作為在1980年代台灣最早擁抱歐美迪斯可舞曲風格的藝人之一,高凌風透過改編、翻唱,帶來的不僅是一種新的流行音樂形式,更代言著迪斯可中直白的情欲與身體性。高凌風的歌舞不時踩到文化審查界線,除了單曲屢屢遭禁或被認為「危害善良風俗」。文化審查機制像是一個異常敏感而世故的讀者,從高凌風的身體與聲音之中讀出危險的色情。而早年盛大的綜藝景觀,反倒映照出高凌風生涯後期星海浮沉帶給人的一種荒涼感(「臨風高歌」停播之後,高凌風接連因黑道糾紛、持有槍械而入獄及電視台封殺等風波,加上1990年後期,他所投資的舞廳不是倒閉就是被查禁,境遇大不如前。在演藝事業中斷15年後,直至2004年才以政治模仿秀重回電視舞台。),這變成《臨風高歌》中一個核心的意象。在雙頻道的錄像中,藝術家把場景換成了西門町僅存的紅包場「鳳凰大歌廳」,舞台上的伴奏樂隊演奏著高凌風當年暢銷歌曲《惱人的秋風》。這首曲子翻唱自 瑞典流行樂團ABBA的暢銷單曲《給我!給我!給我!(午夜之後的男人)》(Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)),原歌詞描述夜半時分一人守著電視機的女子,幻想某男子能從電視裡的奇想世界中出現,帶她脫離枯燥的現實。在高凌風翻唱的版本中,則變成一位男子對離去女友的呼喊。但最後在蘇匯宇給我們的場景中,卻只剩下伴奏樂隊的聲音,呆坐的主唱像是活在另一個平行宇宙。

(本文節錄自「午夜場」策展論述,游崴,2016。)