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The Fabled Shoots

Video, 11mins, 2008

“Politicians use fear to control people, lawyers need threats in order to file suits and make money and the popular media needs frightening stories in order to draw the public.”

Michael Crichton, State of Fear

These words didn’t come from a philosopher’s mouth, but rather from a popular novelist’s. This demonstrates that topics concerning various kinds of fear, even if they aren’t philosophical, are still in urgent need of discussion especially in today’s era of expanding terrorism. These issues are closely linked to each of us, however what is terrorism?

“When we define terrorism, the basic problem we face is that terrorism is a fully political concept. The concept of terrorism has been utterly complicated by lofty political stands as well as conflicts over profits. The often heard phrase, 「 one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,」 reflects this predicament. What seems like just a semantic problem, is actually the clashing of divergent ideologies. Whether we view a situation as terrorism or not, depends on our political point of view.”  – Beau Grosscup

This is a definition of terrorism that comes from political science. The impact terrorism has on human beings and their philosophy is more than I can bear and something I could never have imagined before. The above quotes are all related to my current work.

The inspiration for The Fabled Shoots came from movie gun battles, but since terrorism is increasing, I happened upon a bigger inspiration. Looking back at the history of movies, gun battles belong to special genre in terms of their methodology. They have been put to use in various film genres like westerns, police, science fiction and war movies. Shoot-outs are always an indispensable element of these kinds of films and repeatedly appear in different forms using different rhetorical devices. Although shoot-outs are already considered a cliché and predictable, they are still readily produced and consumed. In many different genres of film gun battles are exactly the same, and always attract people with the same series of expressions, sounds and sparks as the bodies charge ahead through the hail of bullets. The Fabled Shoots is about the bodies that never die as they stare down the barrel of a gun. I am not talking about how the bodies never die because the actors are playing dead, but rather the philosophical significance of the accumulated images of these bodies never disappearing or dying away. It seems every Hollywood movie is filled with people firing guns and getting hit by bullets, but as far as I am concerned they never die.

The concept of The Fabled Shoots originated in 2005 but wasn’t fully formed until 2007. The concept in its earlier stages attempted to address gun battles in a traditional way. In my experience, gun battles are extremely entertaining, but only in Hollywood movies, not in reality. When I was forming this concept in 2007, the shocking Virginia Tech massacre took place in the United States. The perpetrator of this incident, along with planning out the massacre, sent a threatening video tape to a television station. The makes me think of the prevalence of the use of video along with terrorist attacks after 911. In these videos, firearms are usually brandished as a means of intimidation, or even more seriously, the terrorists will tape the live execution of a hostage. Watching these kinds of news reports fills people with a 「hyper-real fear.」

At this point, I realized that people in real life are also more or less threatened by guns, yet are fascinated by gun fire, hitting targets and bodily injury. This point can explain why gun battles in movies, gun battle games and news reports concerning guns and injuries are always good business opportunities; moreover many people like the feeling of shooting and hitting a target, and are fascinated by terror (which have similar plots to horror movies).

As in my earlier series, I am very interested in movie history and the underlying logic of movies. The Fabled Shoots takes the significance of this genre of film and reproduces it, not only to make allegorical criticisms of film, but also to pay closer attention to the complex relationships between movies, reality and life. In today’s climate of expanding terrorism and interest in horror movies, I can’t deny that my interest is motivated by curiosity and a desire for stimulation, but the interest is also somewhat inevitable and introspective. No matter what, I want to use these feelings of extreme anguish, cruelty and agitation to create a dialogue with the situation in the popular media.

“Terrorism: The intention to threaten or coerce government, the people or other organizations to achieve political and social goals. To use unlawful force or violence against people or property.”

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Terrorist Research and Analytical Center

It seems we never really die under a hail of bullets.






「槍下非亡魂」這一概念起始於2005年,直至2007年才正式成形。原初的構想企圖針對「槍戰」這一傳統進行思考,其中包括兩個課題──槍戰電影中的「暴力美學」與「身體哲學」。槍戰本來在我的經驗裡是非常娛樂性的,但它們僅止於好萊塢片,無關於現實,直到創作構思期間(2007年),發生了震驚世界的美國「維吉尼亞理工學院槍擊事件」,該事件的元兇不僅有計畫地殺人,甚至寄送威脅影片到電視台。這使我不斷想起911之後大肆流行的恐怖攻擊事件與「恐怖錄影帶」,內容經常都是以槍枝火力的展示做為威脅的來源,更嚴重者甚至是人質殺害的實況。透過這類新聞訊息,人們感受到了「超真實的恐懼」(hyper-real fear)。