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Ho Tzu Nyen, born 1976 in Singapore, produces films, videos, performances, and installations. Ho Tzu Nyen is successful and active both as a fine artist and filmmaker. His film “Here”, a drama about patients in a psychiatric clinic, was shown at the international film festival in Cannes in 2009. But the artist, who attended art academies in Melbourne and Singapore, is not driven by success in the film world. What fascinates Ho about the medium of film is the materiality of time. In order to make this tangible to his audience he slows down his films or speeds them up. “Usually, I prefer making longer films, and films that are much slower. But I am also interested in the other extreme – films that are fast and very short. So, what I feel uncomfortable with – are films that have the correct pacing and rhythm. It almost seems to me that, when the rhythm and pacing is just right you actually forget time, because you are absorbed in the flow of the narrative. But when the film is slightly too slow, time takes on a certain density or plasticity.” Andy Warhol was exploring time in film when in 1964 he filmed the Empire State Building at night for eight hours at a stretch and then screened the footage in its entirety. Warhol did not care if people left the cinema during the screening to go shopping or to get something to eat, or if they simply dozed off. Since then cinema has become increasingly attractive for artists, as evinced in the recent cinematic forays of Julian Schnabel, Sam Taylor Wood, Steve McQueen, and Matthew Barney.

It is the invisible limits and unwritten laws that Ho's seems to find so intriguing, in his films and his art alike: “I have always been interested in the construction of a practice that is fluid enough to be connected to diverse fields. My aim has never been to be what is sometimes referred to as a multi-disciplinary artist, but rather to inseminate a particular mode of practice, or a logic of sense into the different areas of cultural production.”When fine art approaches are transferred to film, a distancing takes place that expands the language of film. “Earth” (2010), for example, is a four-minute post-apocalyptic tableaux vivant, filmed in a single take with around 50 actors vegetating in a semi-conscious state in a vast, meticulously composed pile of debris. The scene looks like the aftermath of a catastrophe, an earthquake perhaps. The camera zooms in and out of the image of the people in their vegetative state, the light constantly shifting. “Earth,” say Ho, “is my attempt to work through my obsession with the light and compositions of painters such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Girodet and Géricault.“ It is an obsession he pursues not as a painter, but as a director. But Ho himself remains firmly in the role of the artist.




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