Captive Tuning, 2016, single channel 4K video (color, sound), 17'05"
Continuing his exploration of contemporary living status, artist Tuo Wang’s film Captive Tuning presents a day in the life of an elderly couple through scenes shaped by emotional speechless conversations, atonal sounds, and orchestrated song. A series of seemingly mundane situations give way to meditations on the ambiguous nature of romance, nostalgia, and responsibility.
Captive Tuning portrays a seemingly peaceful and mundane afternoon in an American family. The female protagonist is imprisoned by the male protagonist in their country house. The emotional relationship between them is full of tension but remains ambiguous and indeterminate. The two characters do not engage in any verbal interaction, but their nonverbal conversations persist. As they sit down for their afternoon tea, the artist uses the sound of piano tuning to continue their silent interaction. Besides the verbal narrative that the artist usually uses, the practice of music composition is a crucial means of creative exploration for the artist. As a medium of storytelling, sound always figures into his performative composing and singing. In this work, the sound of piano tuning in the first half of the video implies the psychological activities of the characters. Towards the end, “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed creates the illusion of ambiguous emotions. The female protagonist then sings along, suddenly stopping at the final chorus. The reality of the dream is thus revealed.