搜索:
     
    返乡的旅程——我看蔡焕松的乡土纪实摄影
     
    作者:金宁 发布时间: 2015-05-18 14:54:22
     
     

    一、


      以摄影家的身份阐述摄影理论,蔡先生是位不多见的高手。他又能在钻研理论、研究个案、评点作品的闲暇,依旧执着于拍摄实践,从沙龙风景到社会纪实,佳作频现。我始终觉得他是位多侧面的人,精力充沛,我小他十岁,却真感到不如他的活力。或许,用“不在书房,就在去摄影的路上”这句话来形容他的状态,非常贴切。


      我有几次机会和蔡先生一起出外拍摄,对他在现场的机敏与巧思深有体会。他抓拍的功力是一流的,眼光又很独到,总能有别人不留意的细节与瞬间被他捕捉下来。我一直以为,对摄影家来说,所有的“巧遇”其实都来自于积累,眼睛受大脑支配,思考置前,意识到位,操控手中的相机便似乎只是个下意识的动作了。我只能说,老蔡是高人!


      忽有一日,看到他一组在内蒙沙漠里拍的风景,我更是惊讶。那被他以“水墨响沙湾”命名的作品,有着独特的美感与抒情的意味,文人气十足。后来,其中的一幅就发表在学术大刊《文艺研究》的封面上,为杂志增色。能把沙堆拍出水墨的气韵,我只能说,老蔡是高人!


      前不久,他风尘仆仆从南方回来,我本想他就是回家过节去了,他却带来又一组纪实作品——《潮汕月浦成人礼》。我知道这是他一直持续跟踪的题材,这一次,作品更丰富更细致,影像也更扎实。我一幅幅翻看细读,首先想到的是他连日的劳作辛苦,看着人潮涌动、晨昏早晚的喧闹,想象着他端着相机闪转腾挪、马不停蹄,我只能说,老蔡不易!


      老蔡此行还有一位同道,知名的日籍摄影大师久保田博二先生。此公是马格南诸多高人中的一位,又是一直持续深入拍摄中国社会的外国摄影家之一。他是中国摄影界的熟客,此番前往潮汕,一则应了老蔡的地主之约,二则与老蔡同题拍摄,这便有了高手过招、比试剑法的意味。道理上说,以两位的摄影经历,手法之类已经不是问题,艺术风格也已经形成且各具特色;要说比较,在我看来就是两位看待同一题材(对象)的眼光的差异,而这可以是一篇专门文章的论题。出于不同的文化背景和个人经历,体现在具体作品中的异同反映了摄影家各自独到的视觉发现和心理关注中心。


      两位摄影家这次的两组作品属于较为典型的影像人类学作品,以我的体会,拍摄这样的作品确实不易。另一方面,值得研究的是,蔡先生的拍摄,其内在心理支撑是“还乡”,而久保田博二先生的拍摄,其创作行为本质上是一种“到访”。从人类学研究及其影像表达上,这已经超越了所谓“主场”、“客场”式的较量,它更多地折射出两种不同的观察、把握和研究的路径。它们通向同一样的价值属性,却也有着不一样的表现内涵。我的这篇文字主要针对的是前者的拍摄实践,这仅仅是因为,在我看来,就中国的摄影现状而言,对本地域文化样态的影像挖掘更应该得到强调,某种意义上说,蔡先生的拍摄方式值得提倡,也给中国摄影界提供了一个有针对性的研究文本。


    二、


      这些年来,所谓人类学纪实摄影成为一个很热闹的行当,然深入者寡,凑热闹者众,加上和旅游产业联姻结对,于是,一个又一个“摄影大集”纷纷形成,遍地开花。有人类学“标本”存在的地方就会聚拢大批的摄影人,有时一个民俗场景中满眼都是镜头和摄影背心在晃来晃去,热闹非凡。这在客观上造成两个“互向”的结果,一是摄影行为本身严重干扰了民间仪式生活的自在与自为的状态,二是仪式的主导参与者也开始向摄影行为靠拢,原生态的功能与意义被大大地削弱与改变了。


      我忽然想起了两则笑谈,均出自曾任教香港中文大学的人类学家乔健教授(此公是台湾人类学家李亦园教授当年在台大考古人类学系的学弟,两位先生以及日本的人类学家中根千枝教授曾在上世纪90年代频繁往来大陆开展研究,与费孝通教授交往甚密)。乔教授研究美洲拿瓦侯印第安部落,他说那里的人调侃人类学家的笑话是:一个拿瓦侯家庭通常包括母亲(他们是母系社会)、父亲、子女和一个人类学家。可见后者是如何寻常地出没其间。另一则笑话是:美国早期人类学家克鲁伯(A。R。Kroeber)写过许多有关印第安人的报告,一次他又到一个印第安人家中去访问,他问了个问题后,那印第安人转身就进了里屋,半天才出来回答这个问题,克鲁伯好生奇怪,问他是否进屋去询问老母亲,那人说只是去里面翻阅一个叫克鲁伯的人类学家写的书,免得把自己的风俗回答错了。


      人类学至少在早期是和殖民行动搭伙相伴的,这话另说。而摄影也是一种“侵略”行为,相机干脆就是“侵略之物”。于是,对“异邦”的想象便和对“差异”的兴趣一起,渐渐成为不少摄影人的行为主导。


      但蔡先生以持续的摄影考察的方式对广东潮汕地区的民间传统仪式的关注和记载,却处在与前述现象截然不同的层面,它对摄影家来说首先是回乡,所以他可以“潜入”其间、深入其中,“打枪的不要,悄悄的进村”,以一种自然的状态观察、拍摄。坦率地说,这样的经验是难以复制的,弥足珍贵。我相信,一位成熟的摄影家必定有着广泛的关注点和拍摄兴趣,但我也认为,如果有一个具有“在地优势”的题材可以去挖掘,那实在是不可多得的幸事。我以为,蔡先生对此有着足够的重视和很高的文化自觉。


      还拿人类学研究来说。马林诺夫斯基认为费孝通的研究开创了人类学家研究本乡本土的先例,这位西方学者指的就是后者在去LSE(伦敦政治经济学院)前对家乡江苏吴江庙港镇开弦弓村(费在着作中将其命名为“江村”)的研究。同样的例子还有费先生的同学林耀华教授对福建玉田黄村的研究,等等。


      我在这里无意夸大眼前这一人类学摄影目前成果的价值,只是想强调“取法乎上”的重要性,今天的拍摄事实上的确可以为日后的进一步梳理和提升研究的色彩提供基础。不难想象,长着相似的面容,操着同样乡音土语的摄影家老蔡,他在最大程度不干扰对象、不截断生活之流的状态下所拍摄的作品,该具有怎样的文献价值!


    三、


      但接下来的问题可能更加复杂,也更加本体。至少对摄影家来说,在热闹繁杂的仪式场景中,他该如何选取画面?这一点对摄影而言,无论前期(拍摄)还是后期(为展览和出版进行图片编辑)都是至关重要的。这同样首先是但又绝对不仅仅只是个技术问题,更重要的,它最终是个认识和理解的问题——对仪式的认识,以及对摄影纪实的本体意义有何种程度的理解。


      “……庙会和庆典具有浓厚的‘象征意义’。人类学者常把乡土社会的仪式看成是‘隐密的文本’……是活着的‘社会文本’……是现时代民间对传统的地方文化或过去的社会生活方式的社会记忆”(王铭铭《漂泊的洞察》)。我发现,蔡先生对这一“文本”及其“隐密”的意指非常熟悉(实际上,更深的层面是,作为“乡党”,他应该更有一种对“文本”的认同和对“隐密”的领悟。这种基于同一文化养成的认同与领悟甚至会超越仪式本身而潜藏于他的血脉之中)。从成人礼(赛大猪),到英歌舞、跳火墩,再到游神,每一个环节都有恰当的刻画,以细致的观察,达至精炼的呈现,活生生的形象和现场的每一处细节,都通过到位的摄影手段记录在案。几乎每一幅画面都信息充分而又有突出的视觉重点。难得的是,场景中每每出现些令人“笑场”的戏剧性幽默,我以为,这正是摄影家独到的发现,也是其个性自然的外化,寻常中见意外,实属难得。不能不说,只有蔡先生在此可以“化入”环境之中,以人类学实践的眼光看,这更是应该重视的优长之处。


      从这次呈现的作品看,还有两点值得赞赏。首先,摄影家始终关注了仪式场景中的“变量”。就我的理解,潮汕地处开放前沿的南中国沿海,当地人既守护传统的习俗成规,又领风气之先,所以方方面面的细节中都有新的符号存在。摄影家在此关注了对变迁的视觉记载,有对比也有互补,使作品的文献性更加得到强化。换个角度说,这也为进一步持续性的跟踪考察设下目标。而在不断的跟踪重访中观察社会生活的演进,正是人类学或与人类学相关的考察活动的题中应有之意。其次,摄影家在拍摄中十分注意环境和人物之间的协调与互动,在拍摄人物时恰当地处理了景深关系,没有忽略环境信息和氛围的再现。以往很多类似的拍摄活动,影人总习惯性地强调人物的造型刻画,背景被不适当地过分虚化。在我看来,这样的处理恰恰忽略了此类题材拍摄的功能意义(在人类学层面上强调“功能”是一个十分学理性的话题,仅就与此相关的摄影实践来说,“功能性”总被有意无意间忽略掉,值得思考)。如果信息不够充分,人物被摄影行为“艺术”地抽离出环境,这实际上就是对主题的游离,也是对影像的“标本”价值的弱化乃至消除。


      蔡先生说,他打算有计划地进一步对潮汕文化展开工作,以提供出更完整详实、更生动丰富的视觉考察记录。我以为,这在他无论是空间意义上还是心理意义上都是一次返乡的旅程,其意义不仅仅是一种乡土情怀的释放,是游子对故园的一份爱意表达,更重要的是,他可以通过后续的实践,将他对于摄影的思考体现在具体的创作活动中。可以想见,这将给乡土研究提供一个有价值的文本,同时也给中国摄影界带来有益的话题。


      期待他的努力,也预祝他在理论和拍摄这两个实践领域都有更大的收获。


    Journey of Returning Home


    —— My thoughts on Cai Huan-song’s documentary photography of his native land


    By Jin Ning


    I


    Using the identity of the photographer to expound photographic theory, Mr. Cai is a rare master.  He is able to study and research photography theory, study individual cases and review works, and he is still able to persist in photography practice; from the Sharon landscape to social documentary, he puts out great works frequently.  I always feel that he is a multi-dimensional person; he is full of energy, and even though I am 10 years younger, I really feel that he is more energetic than me.  Perhaps I these words will aptly describe him: “if not in the study, he must be on the road to a shoot.”


    I had a few chances to go out photographing with Mr. Cai, and I have deeply experienced his resourcefulness and ingenuity at the site.  His skill of capturing the moment is superb; he has a unique visual perspective, and can always capture those details and instants that other people do not pay attention to.  I have always thought that to a photographer, all of the “coincidence” actually comes from accumulation.  The eyes are controlled by the brain; thinking comes first, followed by consciousness.


    Suddenly one day I saw a group of landscape photographs taken in Inner Mongolia, and I was amazed.  His collection, named “Water ink Shang Sha Wan,” has unique beauty and lyrical meaning in it, and is full of scholarly spirit.  Later on, one of the pictures was published on the cover page of the academic journal Literary Studies, and it added appeal for the magazine.  Regarding his ability to make pictures of sand hills with water ink tones, I can only say that the venerable Cai is an expert!


    Not long ago, he came wearily back from the south.  I thought that he had gone home for the New year, but he came back with a set of documentary works, called “Coming of age festival in Yue Pu Village, Chao Shan.”  I knew this was a theme that he had been tracking continuously, but this time the works were more abundant and detailed, and the images were more solid.  I looked at every single one of them closely and repeatedly, and the first thought that came to my mind was, he worked so hard, day after day, watching waves of people and listening to the noise from morning to evening twilight; I imagined him holding the camera, moving keenly and agilely without pause, and I can only say that it must not be easy to be the venerable Cai!


    Cai had a companion on this trip, the renowned Japanese master photographer Mr. Hiroji Kubota.  This gentleman is one of many Magnum masters, and is also one of the foreign photographers who continuously shoots in-depth photos of Chinese society.  He is a regular guest of the Chinese photography field.  On this trip to Chaoshan, first of all he was invited by Cai to his hometown, and second, they photographed under the same theme, which can be interpreted as a pair of masters competing and testing each other’s swordsmanship.  Theoretically, with their photographic experience, things like technique are not a problem, and their distinctive artistic styles are already formed; as for comparison, in my opinion, this lies in their different visual perspectives facing the same theme or object, and can be the topic of a special article.  Considering their different cultural backgrounds and personal experiences, the differences and similarities shown in specific works reflect each photographer’s unique visual discovery and center of psychological attention. 


    The two sets of these two photographers’ works this time are the more typical works of image anthropology.  In my experience, it is really difficult to shoot this kind of work.  In addition, this is worthy of study:  the inherent psychological support for Mr. Cai’s shooting is “going back home,” while in Mr. Hiroji Kubota’s shooting, its essence of creative behavior is “visiting.”  From the point of anthropological research and its image expression, this has gone beyond the so-called “home”/”away” game-type competition; it is more a reflection of two different observation, grasp, and research paths.  They are leading to the same property of values, but it also has a different connotation of expression.  My article aimed primarily at the former shooting practice, and this is only because, in my opinion, the status quo of Chinese photography, should emphasize more on image excavation of regional cultural modality, so in one sense, Mr.Cai’s shooting method is worth advocating, and it has also provided a targeted research text for the Chinese photography world. 


    II


    In recent years, so-called anthropological documentary photography has become a very popular line of business; however, few people are deeply into it, and more just join for fun.  Plus, by tying the knot with the tourism industry, the “photography collections” were formed one after another, and they bloomed everywhere.  Anywhere that has anthropological “specimens,” a large number of photographers would gather.  Sometimes, in a folklore scene, swaying lenses and photography vests filled the eyes, and the scene was extraordinarily lively.  This has objectively resulted in two “deadlocks:” one is the photographic act itself severely interfering with the comfort of the civil life and the state; the other one is that the leading participants of the activity began to move closer to photography, and the original ecological functions and significance, therefore, have been greatly weakened and changed. 


    I suddenly remembered two jokes, and they were both from the anthropology professor of Chinese University of Hong Kong, Qiao Jian. (This gentleman is a junior classmate of Taiwan anthropology professor Li Yi-yuan, who were then studying at Department of Archaeology and Anthropology of Taiwan University.  These two men and the Japanese anthropology professor Nakane Chie came frequently to the mainland to do research during the 1990’s, and they are close friends with professor Fei Xiao-tong.)  Professor Qiao studied the American Navaho Indian tribe, and he said people there had a joke poking fun at anthropologists: A Navaho family usually includes a mother (it is a matriarchal society), father, children, and an anthropologist.  Obviously the latter appeared rather often.  Here is another joke: Early American anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber wrote many reports on American Indians.  One day, he went to visit an Indian family.  He asked a question, then the Indian immediately went into the backroom, and did not come out until much later.  Kroeber was exceedingly puzzled, and asked him if he went inside to ask his old mother.  The man said that he only went in to glance through a book that was written by an anthropologist named Kroeber, lest he answer about his own customs wrongly. 


    Anthropology and colonial action at least in the early years are joined together as companies, and that is another story.  Photography, however, is also a type of “aggression” behavior, and the camera is simply an “invader.” Thus, the imagination of “foreign lands” and interest in “differences” together gradually became a behavior dominant among many photographers. 


    Mr. Cai used the continuous photographic expedition method to watch and document the traditional folk ceremonies of Guangdong’s Chaoshan region, but he was on a completely different level from the phenomena previously cited.  For him, it was “returning home,” so he could “sneak in” very deeply; like they used to say in the movies, “Don’t fire the gun, enter the village quietly,” and observed and photographed in a natural state.  Frankly, this kind of experience is hard to replicate, and it is very valuable.  I believe that a mature photographer must have a wide range of concerns and photographic interests, but I also think that, if there is a theme of “advantage” to explore, then it would be a rare blessing.  I think that Mr. Cai has paid plenty of attention to this, and shown a high level of cultural awareness. 


    Let us take anthropological research, for example. Malinowski believed that Fei Xiaotong’s research has created a precedent for anthropological research in native lands.  What  this Western scholar referred to was Fei’s research on his hometown, Kai Xian Gong Village of  Wu Jiang Miao Gang Township in Xiangsu Province (Fei names it “Xiang Village” in his book), before he went to LSE (London School of Economics).  There are other examples, such as, Mr. Fei’s classmate, professor Lin Yao-hua’s research on Tian Huang Village of Fujian, etc. 


    I have no intention of exaggerating the value of the current achievements of anthropological photography; I only want to emphasize the importance of “Qu Fa Hu Shang,” (from Chinese Yi Jing, it means imitating excellent and exquisite knowledge and technique.), and today’s photography can actually provide a basis for further sorting out and enhancing the study of color in the future.  It is not difficult to imagine, with a similar face and the same accent of dialect, the venerable photographer Cai photographed these works under the condition of not interfering with the object and people’s lives. What literary value this should be!


    III


    The next problem may be more complex, and also more ontologically essential.  To photographers, at least, at a lively and complicated ceremonial scene, how should the picture be selected?  For photography, regardless of pre (shooting), or post (editing images for the exhibition and publication), this is exceedingly important.  This is No.1, but not just a technical problem, and more importantly, it is ultimately a problem of awareness and understanding. 


    “…The temple and celebrations possess a strong ‘symbolic significance.’  Anthropologists often regard the local social ritual as a ‘hidden text’ …is live ‘social text’ … is modern day people’s social memory of the traditional local culture or the social life style” (from The Insight of Wandering, by Wang Ming-ming).  I found that Mr. Cai is very familiar with the meaning of this “text” and its “secret.”  (In fact, the deeper meaning is that, as a “fellow villager,” he should approve the “text,” and comprehend the “secret” more.  This approval and comprehension, based on being raised within the same culture, would even surpass the ceremony itself, yet are hidden in his blood stream). From the coming of age ceremony (the giant pig match) to singing and dancing; from jumping over the fire pillar to the god of travel, every step  has an appropriate description.  With careful observation, it reached the refining presentation.   Lively images and the details of the scenes were all documented through perfect photographic means.  Almost every picture is full of information and has prominent visual emphasis.  There is some funny dramatic humor that appears occasionally in the scenes, and that is hard to come by.  I think this is a unique discovery of the photographer, and it is also an externalization of his personality nature; to encounter the unexpected inside the ordinary is indeed very rare.  I must say, only Mr. Cai can “melt” into the environment here, and use the vision of anthropological practice to see, which is the superiority to which attention should be paid. 


    From the works shown this time, there are two points worthy of appreciation.  First of all, the photographer paid close attention to the “variables” of the ceremonial scene from beginning to the end.  In my understanding, Chaoshan is located in the open frontier of the southern coast of China; the local people have kept their traditional customs and rules, and yet have also been at the cutting edge of the general mood of society, therefore every aspect of detail contains new symbols.  The photographers’ concern about the visual records of changes, and their comparative and complementary work, has strengthened the literary qualities of the works.  From another perspective, this has also set a target for further continuous tracking and inspection.  In the continuous tracking and revisiting, we observe the evolution of social life, and this should be the meaning in the topic of anthropology or anthropology-related observation studies.  Secondly, during the shooting, the photographer paid great attention to the coordination and interaction between the environment and people.  When taking pictures of people, he properly handled the depth of field relations, and did not neglect environmental information and the reappearance of atmosphere.  In the past, at many similar photographic activities, the photographers always routinely emphasized a character’s modeling portrayal, and the background was inappropriately empty.  In my opinion, such processing ignored precisely the functional significance of the photographic theme.  (Anthropology emphasizes that ‘function” is a rather scientific theoretical topic, and concerning its related photographic practice, the “functionality” is always intentionally or unintentionally ignored; this is worth thinking about.)  If the information is insufficient, the character is “artistically” pulled out of the environment by the action of photography, which in fact is dissociation of the theme; it is also weakening or even eliminating the value of the “specimens” of the image.


    Mr. Cai said that he intended to further his work in Chaoshan cultural development in order to provide more complete, detailed, rich and vivid visual observation records.  I think, to him, in the sense of space or psychology, no doubt it will be a journal of returning home.  Its significance is not just a release of feelings, but the love of a wander for his hometown.  More importantly, through his follow-up practice, he can put his thinking for photography into specific creative activities.  One can imagine that this will provide a valuable text for local studies, and in the meantime, it will bring a useful topic to Chinese photography.


    I look forward to his efforts, and also wish him a great harvest in the fields of both theory and photography. 


     


     

     
    (新闻来源:艺术家提供)