In Virtual Return We (can’t) Dehaunt於虛擬的彼岸 迴魂(不)散
In Virtual Return We (can’t) Dehaunt is a multi-channel moving-image work by Yarli Allison. It traces the real life stories of four queer Hong Kong (trans)migrants by reconstructing their nostalgic homes in virtual reality (VR), that draws attention to diasporic narratives and cultural archives through the process of cognitively metaphorical ‘returns’.
The videos, presented on a set of three screens, consist of ethnographic research, VR modelling, soliloquy and poetic extracts from real dialogues. These are intertwined with docu-fiction writing and choreographic representations, while exploring the possibilities of sexual and political identities that have transcended geographical definitions in the digital age.
Yarli first poses the question ‘‘to which house do you most wish to return?’, recalling memories of the four overseas ethnic Hong Kongese who were all born in the 80s and identified as queer. The VR spaces are then contextualised after a series of interviews conducted by writer Yin Lo and anthropologist Dr. Haro Matas. Upon invitation, the interviewees revisit their memories of ‘home’ – now a synthetic but emotionally believable VR environment. Further comments are recorded, allowing the team to build a social construct among them, which becomes the core of the work. These misplaced nostalgic spaces – or ‘homes’ – are as if empty shells but
significantly contribute to the formation of their identities, yet one can no longer confirm its spatial accuracy and are left with immaterial impressions.
Throughout the work, the concept of ‘returning’ obsessively exposes itself, attempting to transition from “longing” to “belonging”, whether it is achieved with the act of perpetuation with VR; or illustrating the migrant being forgotten; or as a self- reflexive phantom-like being who is heedlessly seeking to survive.
In Hong Kong’s mainstream cultural beliefs, phantom-beings are expected to return to their origin after death, otherwise a wandering result is expected. Before reincarnation, one has to drink a bowl of Mang Po Soup (孟婆湯) to forget past attachments. These semi-invisible lingering phantom-like beings appear in the middle-half of the work, metaphorically representing in-betweenness, embodying unconscious imprisonments and cultural alienation. Their existence questions the romanticised attachment to the non-existent spaces of the past.
In an attempt to distinguish between the four characters, viewers are met with faceless creatures with mixed soliloquies, evoking a sense of confusion and distance, implying the characters’ tangled identities could easily be dismissed, simplified, or depersonalised.
With Hong Kong’s complex political history, including several past “Mass Migration Wave” events, the unceasing debate on migration for a “better life” remains. The need for an “escape route” is further stirred by the recurring political turbulence. Although a temporal sense of ‘community’ among diasporic Hong Kongese is reinforced by digital connectivity, the practicality of migration is left perpetually unresolved.
Three Videos in one screen for preview. This version is not for exhibition purposes.
The original Installation is separated into 3 videos, and should be in sync (start together, end together, looping). Originally, each video is projected onto 1 individual screen. All video has the same audio, so only 1 audio is needed for 1 pair of PA speakers.
a three-channel docufiction
Three 4k Videos with one Audio track
Full length: 24:21
Created in London, Paris, and Hong Kong, 2018-2021
Installation size: 2.4 H x 10.8 W x 1D m (each screen is 2.4H x 3.6W x 1D m)
《於虛擬的彼岸 迴魂(不)散》是⼀一件多頻道錄像作品。林林雅莉追蹤四個香港酷兒 的(跨)移⺠民真實故事，以虛擬實境重構她們回憶中惦念念的家，透過象徵式的感知回 歸，引起離散敘述和⽂文化檔案(cultural archives)的討論。
錄像以三頻道的形式展⽰示，內容包括⺠民族誌研究、虛擬實境塑模、獨⽩白，以及從真實 對⽩白擷取的詩意字句句，與虛構式紀錄寫作和舞蹈動作交織;在數碼時代裏，開拓拓性⾝身 份和政治⾝身份的多種可能，超越了了地理理定義上的意涵。
「你最想回到那個家?」林林雅莉以問題開⾸首，設問四位在⼀一九八零年年代出⽣生的受訪者。 ⼀一連串串的訪談由作家盧妤和⼈人類學家Haro Matas博⼠士帶領，那些娓娓道來來的回憶成 為繪製虛擬實境家居的素材。完成她們「回憶中的家」後，受訪者應邀「回去」那⼗十 分熟稔卻⼈人⼯工合成的虛擬空間，喚起種種懷緬感受。創作團隊將之紀錄下來來，從⽽而譜 製成作品的核⼼心社會建構 (social construct)。因為無法再回到原有的家去確定物件擺
整件作品中，回歸的意念念執迷地不斷重現，無論是永續 (perpetuation) 的⾏行行為，還是 虛擬實境重塑所帶來來的疑問，或是被遺忘的回流移⺠民⼈人仕，抑或是不顧⼀一切地存活著 的⿁鬼魂，都寄望不需再「憧憬」，⽽而找到「歸屬感」。
在香港的主流⺠民間信仰中，如果⼈人死後的魂魄沒能回家，便便會成為遊魂留留在⼈人間;⽽而 在輪輪迴投胎之前，要先喝⼀一碗孟婆湯，以消忘⽣生前記憶和依戀⼈人間的念念頭。這些半透 明⿁鬼影在作品後半部出現，比喻徘徊於中間的遊離狀狀態、擁抱囚禁的意識和⽂文化疏離 感，亦質疑對過往已消失的空間，有過於浪漫的想像。
在觀眾分辨四個⾓角⾊色的過程中，這些意義曖昧的物體，及縱橫交錯的對⽩白，均讓⼈人感 到有距離，對⼈人物也出現錯亂的感覺，儼如⾓角⾊色複雜的⾝身份:能易易如反掌地把她們摒 棄、去個⼈人化和簡化。
在香港複雜的政治背景、過往的數次移⺠民潮經驗，和近期的社會動盪下，種種移⺠民的 討論繼續升溫，無論是為了了比較好的⽣生活，還是作為⼀一種逃⽣生⽅方式，均是移⺠民的實際 考量量。因此，林林雅莉的作品製造了了⼀一個平衡時空，提供了了⼀一套別於主流的看法，但是 物理理和⼼心理理上的模棱兩兩可和缺失、香港離散族群的定義問題、世俗的數碼連結等等 ——這些長期乏⼈人問津的話題，都依舊無解。
videotage programme history /
about the artist /
Yarli Allison (she/they) – a Canadian-born, Hong Kongese art-worker based in the UK/Paris with an interdisciplinary approach that traverses sculpture, installation, CGI (VR/AR/3D modeling/game), moving-images, drawings, poetry, tattooing, and performances.
Graduated in 2017 with an MFA first-class honour in Sculpture from The Slade School of Fine Art , University College London (UK), Yarli was granted the entry award of the year’s Yitzhak Danziger scholarship.
Yarli’s recent works (2021-22) were exhibited at Tai Kwun Contemporary, (HK), LINZ FMR (Austria), FACT (Liverpool), Barbican Centre (London), Institute of Contemporary Arts: ICA (London), V&A Museum (London).
Recent grants include Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant, and Canadian Council for the Arts Travel Grant.
Yarli was selected as one of the Canadian artists to be presented at The State Hermitage Museum’s Young Artists Program in St. Petersburg and 30 Under 30 at The Gardiner Museum, Toronto (2014). In 2017, Yarli co-curated a collective digital installation pop-up MEMEMEME in The Crypt Gallery in central London with 42 emerging international artists.
Their directed queer-porn Elephant the Allison (2018) explores obsessions, imagined identity formation, and digital dating experiences as queer ESEA folks in the “West”, which has screened internationally across multiple Queer Film Festivals (2018-2022).
Yarli’s work was reviewed by Deborah Levy in Ivan Juritz Prize (2017), and featured in The Guardian, Evening Standard, and beyond (2022). They were invited as a guest speaker of Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London (2022), Academic of Visual Arts, HKBU and The Arts Show, BBC Radio Ulster (2018).
They are a working member of Asia-Art-Activism and Asia Forum with different capacities.
vmac archived / artworks from the artist
For enquires, please contact [email protected] / [email protected].