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Tsai Ming-Liang’s VR-film at EYE Amsterdam

From 10 until 30 January, EYE Amsterdam presents Tsai Ming-Liang’s first VR-film. The Deserted (2017, 55’) is a wordless 360-degree video in which a man – Tsai’s career-long collaborator and lead actor Lee Kang-sheng – is recuperating from an illness in a ruined apartment block in the mountains, where he’s visited by the ghost of his mother and neighbour. The presentation of The Deserted is part of a full retrospective of Tsai’s work up to his latest documentary, Your Face (2018). Tsai and Lee Kang-sheng will be in Amsterdam between 10 and 12 January for introductions, Q&A’s and a masterclass.

“[With this technology,] you can’t do close-up’s anymore. Also, as the frame falls away, the traditional notion of composition doesn’t apply anymore. (...) I realized it’s in a way similar to doing theater. Only it’s not your traditional theater, but one that is for yourself alone and one where you can choose the angle from which to view the performance. (...) While VR tells you that you can look at all four directions, (...) I actually don’t want them to look around. My film doesn’t have that many things for them to look at.”

Tsai Ming-Liang1

“Nothing much happens behind your back or over your head. All the action, such as it is, takes place squarely in front of you. Given Tsai’s penchant for static long takes and deep areas of space, The Deserted isn’t putting you inside a real or virtual space; it’s putting you inside a Tsai film.”

David Bordwell2