Marcel Heijnen 貓咪背後的異世界
Marcel Heijnen，不少人對他的印象來自其Chinese Whiskers系列的《香港街市貓》及《香港舖頭貓》攝影集。一位從地球遠方旅居至港的荷蘭攝影師，靠其獨特的藝術觸角，觀照出香港細膩動人的時代軌跡。然而，Marcel眼中的香港不限於此，比Chinese Whiskers更早創作的Residue系列，更深刻地描畫了城市進化中的層疊錯落，亦訴說了這位藝術家的創作人生。
Many know Marcel Heijnen by his Hong Kong Market Cats & Hong Kong Shop Cats photo albums from the Chinese Whiskers series. A Dutch photographer living in Hong Kong, with his unique art sense, he contemplates every tiny bits of Hong Kong over time. But Hong Kong, in Marcel's eyes, is not just like this. The Residue series, created before Chinese Whiskers, get's much deeper in the city's development progress, at the same time telling the story on creativity of his own.
Marcel說道：「我一直也有拍照，如旅遊街拍。我曾把作品交予一位辦展覽的朋友品評，他坦言這並不特別，我需要find my own voice。」直至多年前，Marcel在新加坡參加了一個為攝影師而設的五天workshop Shooting home，其間要完成一輯攝影作品。他以同一角度攝下五間不同類型的房屋，大獲好評。此後，Marcel便開始認真思考自己的拍攝方向。他迷上了拍攝建築物，亦有感城市不斷運轉，很想攝下當中的改變，隨之在2010年開展了Residue創作。
'I keep taking photographs, like during travelling.' said Marcel. 'I once showed my works to my friend who worked as an event organizer, and he said they're some way off extraordinary - what I need to do is to find my own voice.' A couple of years ago when Marcel joined in Singapore a 5-day photography workshop Shooting home, he was asked to make an album of photo works. He shot 5 houses with the same angle, which earned him enormous praises. That was when he began thinking about the direction of photography. He fell in love with shooting buildings and discovered the desire to record the bits of the cities that are ever changing. He began working on Residue in 2010.
Buildings rise and fall as the engines of the utility vehicles roar, there seems to be no end to this. By using glass surfaces, Marcel put the reflections of the sky and skyscrapers onto rugged walls, recording the changing progress of cities in an artistic way. He has chosen Singapore, China and Hong Kong so far, places that change vastly and quickly. Rigid buildings turn to dust and ash in just a minute - it is almost on a daily basis in China. 'Everything comes from endless trying,' explains Marcel. From choosing reflection objects and deciding on the right place to capturing dazzling lights and setting the slightest angle - everything is about experience. It takes time, and it's never easy. 'Moving from one angle to the other, even with just a slight touch, makes whole difference to the whole image.' A whole day's effort might result in just 2 or 3 completed works - if not nothing at all, which is usually possible. By just listening to him we can feel how hard it could be. From the first period Marcel took 15 images altogether, in which he found quite special. He then went back to his friend, who invited him to take part in the exhibition, before saying 'you have found your own voice'. The result was beyond Marcel's imagination, of which he received notable applause in the exhibition. He began learning and creating at the same time, enjoying life with exhibitions and publication works afterwards. The step-by-step progress was tough yet meaningful. According to Marcel, the Residue series is still going on, where there are much more unknowns awaiting him.
Marcel chooses not to photoshop - instead, he gets back to the origin to showcase the different world he creates. By using mirror reflections, he creates multi-exposure-like images which are so unique.
Marcel didn't choose the easy path for multi exposure effects. ' Without editing, creation becomes harder. Yet what you see is what exists, unlike Photoshop where you can paste from other sources. What's more, with more limits it might just stimulate creativity,' said Marcel. Adjusting lens bit by bit, combining the 2 worlds by his hands, what he created is a combination of elegant reality and abstract, dazzling his audience. 'If I use Photoshop, there would not be an end to creating.' People tend to seek perfection when there's no limit, which means it could take years to finish just one piece of work. Marcel believes that perfection doesn't exist on this world - it is just like chasing shadows, which ends up getting nothing. According to Wabi-Sabi - a thought originated from Japan - there is no perfection in the world, and we should all accept its imperfection and incompleteness. The real beauty lies in impermanence, i.e. ever changing. For instance, we all think flowers are beautiful, yet the only flowers we refer to are living ones, not the plastic ones. The beauty of flowers lies in its impermanence. Good things don't last forever - if they do, you just won't like it. It all just like the setting sun.
「無常」，這便是Marcel想透過作品帶出的思想。「我希望大眾能夠接受『無常』，因為大家都想獲得永恆。但就連我們的身體也不會永恆存在，我們會老。人的不快樂來自渴望抗衡無常。當你接受，自會變得平和。」接受了生命的不完美及「無常」，其後便是及時行樂。Marcel以一佛教故事比喻：一個年輕男人被醫生告之身患絕症，只剩下一年壽命；但他沒有怨天尤人，而是趕緊做了所有他想做的事。後來他得知醫生誤診後，卻快樂無比，因為他已完成所有願望。「我們要的正是這樣，及時行樂（Do it now, not later）。」
Impermanence is what Marcel's works want to tell. 'I want people to accept "impermanence", when they always seek immortality. Yet our bodies are mortal and we will grow old. Unhappiness comes from the will to fight against impermanence. You'll be able to enjoy calmness when you begin accepting impermanence.' Happiness is everywhere to be found when you accept the imperfection and impermanence in life. He took a Buddhism story as an example: a young man was told that he has terminal illness with just a year to live. He didn't blame anybody but began doing what he wanted to do. Soon when the doctor told him the terminal illness thing was just a mistake, he couldn't be happier for he has fulfilled all his wishes. 'This is what we should be doing - do it now, not later'.
Not only is Marcel a photographer, but also a designer and musician. Designing helps photographing, photographing kick-starts designing, while music leads the rhythm. The life of art is a flexible and multi-directional composition.
「Chinese Whiskers與Residue感覺很不一樣，像是出自不同攝影師之手。」Marcel笑說。兩輯作品風格截然不同，但反覆思量，便發現兩者同是描繪了周遭城市的改變，反思着人與自然的微妙關係。在Residue中，建築物是人造的，代表人力，具歲月痕跡的牆壁展現自然；在Chinese Whiskers中，店舖、街市是人力，貓咪是自然。看似相去甚遠的兩輯作品，其內在的精神本質同出一轍。轉換不同手法、風格，表達更顯自由。Marcel說，創作需要keep fresh。
'I do feel Chinese Whiskers and Residue are very different. It's like they done by different photographers,' said Marcel with a smile. They carry 2 distinct styles of course, yet when you look closer, you'd find that both depict the changes in the society and environment around us, which lead us to think about the relationship between human and the nature. In Residue, buildings constructed by humans represent human force, while the ageing walls represent the nature; in Chinese Whiskers, shops and markets are human, while cats are the nature. It's funny that the essence of the 2 albums is the same while they look so different from each other. By changing between techniques and styles, the ideas could be expressed more freely. When it comes to creating, it's important to keep fresh, said Marcel.
Residue在Marcel的創作中，除了代表攝影，亦是音樂。與攝影系列同名的Residue音樂專輯，原來比攝影作品更早出現，講的亦是「改變」；但內容偏向個人，專注自身的經歷與感受。在Marcel拍了攝影系列後，覺得Residue一字亦配合這些影像，便借用去了。藝術，可以是不同形式、載體。這讓人想起已逝武術家李小龍的說話：「Be water my friend」，人應靈活如水。當置入水杯，便成了水杯；當置入花瓶，也便成了花瓶。不久的將來，我們更會看到Chinese Whiskers的影片，可同時欣賞Marcel的設計與音樂功力。
To Marcel, Residue means photography as well as music. The music album of the same name, which talks about 'changing', appeared some time before the photo one. Residue as a music album focuses on Marcel's personal experiences and feelings. Upon completion of the photo album, he borrowed the word Residue from his own works as he thought it suits the photos well. Art could be in different forms and carriers, and that easily links to the famous quote by martial arts legend Bruce Lee, 'be water, my friend'. Humans should be as flexible as water, changing and adapting quickly according to the surrounding. We shall be able to see Marcel's abilities in designing and music, as the video of Chinese Whiskers being available in the near future.
Residue在新加坡為人熟知，在港卻迴響不大，大多人只看過Marcel Heijnen的Chinese Whiskers。事實上，Residue的出版售出量亦比不上Chinese Whiskers；Marcel從不介懷，但亦期待着大眾發掘他的另一部分。
Though being popular in Singapore, Residue weren't noticed by many in Hong Kong, for most people only know Marcel's Chinese Whiskers. In fact, the sales amount of Residue was never as much as that of Chinese Whiskers. While he doesn't mind, he does hope that more people would discover the other part of himself.
Image used with permission