‘My Video Making Process’ is a thought-provoking and entertaining artist documentary


My Video Making Practice by Gan Siong King is an alternate take on the artist documentary format. In conjunction with Five Arts Centre’s 40-year anniversary, it is a special mashup event of a film screening by the artist and a dialogue with invited guests. Other than the format, the film content is also unique in its own right.

Gan Siong King

in the 83-minute documentary film, Gan casts an eye back towards his life and artistic career, starting from his art education in the 90s all the way to his video projects made during the pandemic. The film shows us the experimental videos made by Gan around 2009 when he was still new to video as a medium. Even from that early stage, his signature style of using moving light sources in his videos was apparent.

The film then moves on to show the later work Gan did with collaborators, a series of video essays showcasing the craft of Malaysian artists. These include portraits of contemporary Chinese calligrapher Ong Chia Koon, graphic designer, box camera photographer and cycling activist Jeffrey Lim, and electric guitar amplifier maker Nik Shazwan. These are not simple documentaries baldly showing the work of said artists, but beautiful, hand-crafted short films that paint evocative pictures of their subjects, their art, and personalities. For example, when Ong the calligrapher recites the poems from his calligraphy, the characters from Ong’s beautiful brushwork appear on screen. However, Gan is also sure to include the quips and goofs that Ong makes when talking about his craft, painting a more comprehensive picture of the man behind the art.

Gan, via the film’s narration, speaks to the audience throughout with a casual and humorous demeanour. This combined with snappy editing and striking imagery creates a film where the audience is constantly engaged. But much more importantly, this is not just a highlight reel of Gan’s work, but instead an artist’s contemplation of the nature of art itself, and how artists make art.

The work discusses themes such as consciousness, the passage of time, the urgent need to create art, and how the different interpretations of art can say more about the observer than the artist. One especially interesting segment was when Gan mused about what are the means and what are the ends in art. Some artists confuse the metaphorical scaffolding used to construct a building with the architecture itself.

After the film screening ended, there was an artist talk featuring Gan and several artists from different disciplines. The artists vary from night to night. On June 22nd when this writer was in attendance, the talk was held between filmmakers Rahmah Pauzi and Chloe Yap as well as the dance artist Lee Ren Xin.

My Video Making Practice will run until 30th June 2024 (Sunday). You can purchase tickets here!

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