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SHOW AND TELL #14: Lin Li

Based in Scotland, Lin Li has been using moving image and sound in her creative practice since 2011. Her work covers a wide range of subjects, with recurrent themes such as the ephemeral elements of nature; the idea of peace; and transience. In 2013, she was one of the participants in the Alchemy Film and Moving Image residency in the Scottish Borders. Her works have been shown in the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival and many other events in different parts of the world. She’s coming to Hawick again this year to present her film Appearance in our It’s My (Private) Life programme.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Is it possible to have ‘perfect’ happiness when the world is so imperfect? There can be moments of happiness in the company of friends and family with whom one can talk about serious subjects with humour.

2. What lies at the heart of your own desire to make films?
Films appeal to me because the combination of sound with moving image opens up many expressive and creative possibilities.

3. What are the first things you do in developing a film idea in response to a subject?
It varies from project to project. Given that my works are largely short and I do the filming and editing on my own, I do not use storyboards and usually try things out directly in Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. Often I start with the soundtrack first, particularly if the film involves interviews (e.g. Fragments of Peace, see here), or is based on a standalone audio piece which I have made or some text which I have written. While I am working on the sounds, I may do some filming or look through my collection of video clips for footage which is suitable for the idea. Other projects may start with the filming or with images which I already have (e.g.Appearance which is screened at the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival this year), and the soundtrack is developed later in response to the images. I also tend to ‘sleep on’ an idea literally – mulling over it at night when I am half awake.

4. What’s your favourite film and why?
I have many favourites, Tarkovsky’s Mirror being one of them. I find it mesmerizing because of its poetic, dreamlike quality and the fluidity of its time-space.

5. Choose 1, 2 or 3 of your all-time favourite music tracks!
There are too many to choose from. Here are three pieces of music which I find moving and have listened to again recently:
(1) Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 particularly the finale Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis
(2) J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations
(3) James Macmillan’s Cantos Sagrados, particularly the last movement Sun Stone

6. From your favourite poem – could you give us a few lines that mean something to you?

A haiku by Basho:

The sea darkens;
the voices of the wild ducks
are faintly white

7. If you were to die and come back as a person, animal or a thing, what would it be?
I don’t know – this could be the subject for a future film project….

8. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Music and works by other artists

9. What is your final word?
The Chinese term for ‘film’ is ‘ 電影 ‘ (dian ying). The first character means electrical. The second character can have different meanings – shadow, or an image formed by light. I like the connotation of shadow which alludes to something other than itself.