Film

T’ang Boogie

The images flash by in a succession of short bursts like ink jets on paper. The white paper shots resemble sparks of light. The artworks are shown as single size, still frames, 48 images flash by within two seconds, forwards and backwards. The eyes get used to it, the brain memorizes and recognizes the images.

The animated ink of T’ang Boogie, translates into reality the random paths of ink that echo life itself. This metaphor frees T’ang from the affectation of virtuosity and preciousness. He contributes to a process that is using his work as raw material. There, in accordance with the artistic ideal of Daoism he finds a very contemporary resonance.

In the same way, T’ang Boogie illustrates the nature of his 1970’s production. Some paintings, dominated by blank areas crossed by a few lines, alternate with other works where the space of the diptych is almost entirely inked, only revealing bright dots of blankness.

The impression it produces, to the viewer who makes the effort to look at it without flinching, may be negative - an immediate rejection - or it will incite him to understand and look at it again and again. It was this immediate reaction of curiosity and attraction that motivated Guo Gan, master of the two-stringed Chinese violin, to set T'ang Boogie to music. Gan saw in T'ang's use of his works as a raw material a "free, generous and daring" act, a rejection of their materiality but certainly not of their existence. Tom and Haywen had intended to put music on the Boogie but had not had time to do so. Guo Gan looked at the Boogie many times and finally created on the images the piece "drunk ink" which is now part of his repertoire.

The rejection, at first surprising, came from a great French philosopher to whom I proposed in December 2018 to watch the film. His reaction was immediate: "It is extremely aggressive from an optical point of view. It is also very 70s... of the last century... and I don't really see the point, apart from hurting the eye as an organ...". He had seen T'ang Boogie as "no longer of our time" and painful for the eyes. I didn't try to convince him because his time is precious but I was a little disappointed by his lack of reserve; he who usually teaches us to look in depth. Then I understood the mistake I had made in subjecting the result of a Taoist game to a purely Western and Cartesian view.

T'ang Boogie is a unique work and experience, a Taoist incentive to see and feel, and a landmark that will take its rightful place in the history of ink renewal.

T'ang Boogie is a collaboration between T'ang Haywen and Tom Tam.