Locarno FF

Xu Bing, Matthieu Laclau – Dragonfly Eyes (Qing Ting zhi yan) #Locarno70

Play Podcast
12 min. and 53 sec.

A fabricated account based on “real/reel” data collected by the millions of eyes always on us, with no one behind them

Play Podcast
12 min. and 53 sec.

PODCAST | Bénédicte Prot interviews Xu Bing and Matthieu Laclau, director and producer of the film Dragonfly Eyes (Qing Ting zhi yan).

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture

Chinese artist Xu Bing tells us more about the technical aspects of his ambitious film project Dragonfly Eyes and describes how he was able to fabricate a narration based on silent footage selected from myriads of images (filmed in different locations – hotels lobbies, streets, theme park, virtual chatroom…- which only have in common that they are inhabited by Man). We discuss the relationship between data and reality, and the implications of the surveillance camera’s frame. Bing also tells us more about the writing of the humourous texts that accompany this very scary discourse on our society.

Dragonfly Eyes (Qing Ting zhi yan): each of us is captured on surveillance cameras, on average, 300 times a day. These all-seeing “eyes” observe Qing Ting too, a young woman, as she leaves the Buddhist temple where she has been training to become a nun. She returns to the secular world, where she takes a job in a highly mechanized dairy farm. There, Ke Fan, a technician, falls in love with her, breaks the law in an attempt to please her and is sent to jail. On his release, he can’t find Qing Ting and looks for her desperately until he figures out that she has reinvented herself as the online celebrity Xiao Xiao. Ke Fan decides to revamp himself. Chinese artist Xu Bing, known for his installations made of cast or carved letters conveying how easily texts can be manipulated, or made to look deceptively intelligible, ventures into cinema and delivers a remarkable film evading all categorization (even though it is based on the premise that the whole world is incessantly being mapped and analysed and sorted into identifiable subjects and items and phenomena). His ability to create an apparently consistent love-story – emphasis on apparently – from thousands and thousands of surveillance camera footage, by playfully superimposing sounds and dialogues to the silent images, is an essential reminder – especially in the contemporary world, where the overflow of information is paralleled by the supremacy of mainstream ideological conformism – that even in “reality”, there is no such thing as “The Truth”, only interpretations/narratives. Working from data so incessantly and invasively collected, so randomly recorded or on the contrary deleted, data where the individual can only drown at the same time he is always being watched, and so precise that it is reconstitutes a story dangerously similar to reality which actually deeply betrays it, Xu Bing explores the limitations of the fixed, “arbitrary” frame offered by these many eyes staring at us every day, cameras which, by definition, are always on to film what is in front of their cold and square stare whether something is happening or not, in a culture where virtual dangers and catastrophes are sometimes perceived as just as real, and where human connections lose ground to be replaced by fallacies.

For the official page of the film on the festival website, click here.


  • Reporter
    Bénédicte Prot
  • Guest
    Xu Bing, Matthieu Laclau
  • Interviewee role
    Director, Producer
  • Film title
    Dragonfly Eyes (Qing Ting zhi yan)
  • Festival section
    International Competition
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