15 February 2009

Wifi Project Version 2.0 | ไวไฟ 2.0

Today I had chance to go to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to watch the exhibition Krungthep 226. Coincidentally, I just saw a sign that there would also be a play called Wi-Fi Project Version 2.0 by the Saosoong theatre group. I was incredibly lucky as it was their last performance and I probably couldn't find it restaged anywhere else soon.

It was actually a collection of two short plays -- The Google Detective and Hi5...eiei. Both plays portray how our interactions with modern technology can be related to our redefinitions of love and romance, as well as cheating and lies. In a monologue manner and sometimes with multimedia interactions, each play was respectively led by theatre veterans, Damkueng Tithapiyasak and Janya Tanasawangkul.

The Google Detective is about a man looking for a romance on-line, only to be exposed to a rather sophisticated cyberworld where it is impossible to believe or to trust anyone. With a view to looking for love, the actor ends up being too cynical and engaging himself rather in finding out who his on-line friend is. Love is thus impossible and replaced with sex and paranoia.

While The Google Detective revels in its rather pessimistic tone of contemporary romance quest, Hi5...eiei starts off more cheerfully with an 'ab-baew' woman also looking for a romance on-line, only to find her long-lost friend looking to rekindle his romance with her. Full of hope and expectation, she gradually changes from her 'ab-baew' personality to a more 'human' one and moves away from the computer to her real life. However, when it transpires that her long-lost friend already has a girlfriend and is only interested in her as his temporary 'gig', she starts to retreat to the on-line community and sadly assume her 'ab-baew' persona on-line. I personally find this play rather touching, especially how the woman at the end smiles and talks childishly in her innocent guiles. It makes me understand that perhaps being the so-called 'ab-baew' can be just a shell for someone to protect his or her vulnerable self in such a terribly cruel on-line world where images and avatars are not to be trusted.

Having watched these mini-plays, I can't help but feeling rather happy as I have distanced myself from the on-line world in my post-cynicism era. I'm pleased to say that I don't have Hi5 or facebook accounts. I only have this blog and its Multiply mirror-site. So those of you who send me invitations, please stop. Let's meet in the real space if you can catch me.

A Moment in June | ณ ขณะรัก

Spoilers alert!

A Moment in June is a beautiful film that tells the stories of three relationships that involve second chances. Two of them happen in reality and one happens in a play. It's stylishly done and suitable for those who adore Wong Kar Wai's films. For me, it's a cross between his In the Mood for Love and Stephen Daldry's The Hours. It goes without saying that both films showcase some instances of passionate, yet brutal, love and longing. Hence, A Moment in June follows suit by picking up on two blissfully painful cases: one is a failing relationship between two men and the other is a sadistic case of a woman who waits for thirty years to meet her beloved man.

Of course, while the latter case triumphs over the long wait, the former just isn't that lucky, as it's possible that an unexpected accident might have just ended the relationship. What this film shows is probably how love is simply just a game where no one will know what will be the ending. But one can't deny that, like In the Mood for Love, the film does glamorise affairs and make people want to have a secret relationship that will enable them to be 'heroic', i.e. to be able to sacrifice their secret need and live with their legally married partner. In a sense, like The Hours, the relationship of a legally married couple is not portrayed as a sanctuary, but a scene of brutal tedium and compromise that will result in madness and oppression. However, what is 'morally exquisite' in A Moment in June is a sense of responsibility, especially on the part of the father who chooses to stay with his wife as he wishes to be a good father.

However, when I come to think about it, isn't this just another myth of perfect family? Does it mean that you can only have good children as long as their parents are not divorced? I think a lot of parents out there just choose their children to be a pretext to cover up their own cowardice. They daren't face the fact that they're no longer in love, but they just choose to stay together for the sake of their children. I think this myth is lame but sadly a lot of films, including both The Hours and A Moment in June, just perpetrate this myth. In my opinion, children are wiser than what adults believe and they learn to adjust themselves eventually with divorces. At least they'll be able to realise that love is complicated and sometimes if parents can't stay together it doesn't mean that they no longer love their children. (In this case, Mrs Doubtfire is more realistic and morally uplifting.)

The film also makes use of a play within a play, or to be more precise, a play within a film. This technique is called 'mise en abyme', a French phrase meaning 'placing into infinity', as it can signify that the whole event of love and the second chance happens all the time in the history of mankind. It happens again over and over, yet with different results, like the ending of the play in which the actress is waiting for her secret lover to arrive when the curtain falls. Sometimes someone does arrive and sometimes someone is stood up. In this light, art imitates life and its complexities.

When I come to think about it once again, doesn't life imitate art too? Don't we somehow will our lives to be like what happens in films and books? Sometimes a play within a film perhaps tells us that the whole film may just be an imitation of the play, especially its stylish yearning and fantasy. And then after watching this film, viewers start to wish to copy what's going on in the film, thinking that it's stylish and glamorous. Then we're in a vicious circle and can no longer separate between fiction and reality. Or perhaps their boundaries are not as clear-cut as we imagine they would be.