道 — 藝術與自身的形成
Dao — the Formation of Art and Self (2013)
For Guitar Duo & String Quartet
ca. 17 minute
Dedicated to Yuri Liberzon & Patrick O’Connell
The individual movements of Dao — the Formation of Art and Self are inspired by four contemporary Chinese art pieces that were exhibited in The Origin of Dao at the Hong Kong Art Museum during summer of 2013. Reflecting the philosophies of these pieces, the music incorporates modern Western devices and techniques while celebrating the great philosophical and art tradition of China. Laozi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, explains that Dao is the road, pathway, in which one does something; it is the underlying natural order of the universe. Dao, therefore, provides the backbone of art creation, which ensembles and cultivates the spiritual self.
I. 童年的手稿 Childhood Manuscripts
The title of the first movement refers to the pieces of writing by more than 30 thousand primary school students collected by Yu Hongbin, the artist of Story — Mom, the Wolf Comes, Flowers……? The Chinese-folk-tune-like melody suggests a sense of playfulness, capturing the naivety, pureness and curiosity of youngsters.
II. 意念的媒體 A Medium of Thought
The aleatoric nature of the second movement resonates with Zhang Yu’s idea that ink art is essentially a ritual practice, and not merely a medium of art. A Form of Thought is an ink installation, demonstrating the purpose of expression itself; similarly,
the listeners of this piece are invited to contemplate on the ritual aspects of music.
III. 倒寫書法 Reversed Calligraphy
In Calligraphy of Written Backward (Song Verses), the artist originally wrote calligraphy in backward motions, then reversed the video so it seems to be played in a regular manner. Qiu Zhijie explores the meaning of calligraphy by experimenting with space and time. This movement, in response, is composed in double fugal form following the baroque tradition, but as it reaches the end of the stretto, the music is played backwards and forms a palindrome.
IV. 抽象水墨 Ink Abstraction
Modeling the abstract expressionistic aspect that Liu Zijian uses in Questions to the Kingdom, a serialist compositional technique is used in this movement. Much like the flowing and unrestrained movement of ink, the musical gestures and atmospheric textures creates lyrical senses, juxtaposing with expressionism.