Time, Existence & Love
TANG Ka-hei
This photo montage sequence presents some of my confusion and thoughts about time and human existence. I have created this work rather fortuitously. The opening photo of graffiti (the word “Red Pill” and a heart) was found by chance as I roamed about photographing, not fully aware of how much this image affected my thoughts.

Then I found myself watching The Matrix series and I repeated the fourth episode. My interest is on how the world in The Matrix is presented. What struck me most is the scene about choosing between Red Pill and Blue Pill, a decision about facing an uncertain future or staying in a beautiful prison. For Neo, the main character, a decision has been made even before he makes his own. I have never spent much time thinking about time and free will and the fact that the future is already condemned. Is the “present” followed by “future” really as it is, or just how we perceive time? The Matrix contradicts my common sense. I have always thought, after Sartre, that existence precedes essence. Now, what if there is no before and after? Does free will still mean anything?

There is little progress in thinking through all this except the mystery of our existence remains – I feel being lost in a big maze, not knowing if there is an exit. We will never perceive time outside of it.

The big blur around me took me to the thought of “50 years remaining unchanged” and someone who says, “Love you for 10000 years.” The former is a story I am part of whereas the latter is a line from Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express (1994). But how can I make sense of 10000 years, literally? 

What I could preserve in my photo sequence is the confusion about time and human existence, and I could only show it as it is. Amidst absurdity, I need love to survive whatever kind of world I find myself in. Montage in this work cannot be understood as continuity editing, but neither am I after Eisenstein as I do not share his affective intention and I don’t want “clash” to be the general sentiment of this work. All I did was to sculpt time, inspired by Tarkovsky and that my work would hopefully take me a step closer to the truth of existence.

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“I am just an art student who does not know much about art. Videography and photography are what I am passionate about, though my skills are still quite rough. I seldom do planning when I create my artwork. All I do is simply follow my heart. I hope my artwork will be able to respond to the absurdity of human existence.” – Tang Ka-hei