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Casey Wei
Artist

Vancouver
April 09, 2015

Casey Wei is a Vancouver-based artist and musician. In 2012, she graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Simon Fraser University, where she made her thesis video work Murky Colors, a multi-narrative adaptation of her father's in-progress novel of the same name. In 2014 she finished her second film, a feature length experimental documentary focusing on the migration of e. o. Plauen's comic strip, Vater und Sohn/Father and Son/父与子. Her latest film, Kingsgate Mall Happenings, is the product of an artist residency she undertook at Kingsgate Mall in Vancouver through the Western Front Artist Run Centre. This work has lead her to the Chinatown Happenings mall-residency via Images Festival where she will be continuing her work that brings together different communities via art and music. She sings and plays guitar in the band Late Spring, which will release their debut self-titled EP on cassette this May. She also has a solo-singer songwriter project titled Hazy.

1. Polanski's Chinatown

This was the first Polanski film I saw, and it subsequently made me want to love all his other films, most of which I do. Unique to that golden age of Hollywood and the amazing screenplay, the film unfolds slowly – a true skill of storytelling that I haven't seen in any other (neo) film noir. The convoluted plot leads the audience always one step behind the hero, who spends most of the film with a huge cartoonish bandage on his face, and every time he thinks he's got it, he sinks himself in deeper into the darkness. His expression at the very end still haunts.

2. Beethoven's Fifth at 160 BPM

Other than watching Amadeus when I was a kid and some Wagner here and there in film scores, classical music never appealed to me until I heard the episode of Radiolab called Speedy Beet. The story is that late in life Beethoven actually rewrote the tempo of his Fifth to be so fast that most conductors refused to play them. The Brooklyn Philharmonic play it, and it sounds insane. It's only a short clip, because how could humans sustain that speed, but its chaos is electric.

3. Restaurants that feel like I'm in a Murakami novel

There are a couple in Vancouver: Zipang Provisions and Guu Garden. This ties in with my film noir and Japanese post-war/new wave cinema obsession. Normally, I don't like magical realism, but the way he writes it through his characters' mundane, humble lives… there's something mystical there. One line in A Wild Sheep Chase encapsulates my feeling perfectly: "Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”

4. Moss Garden by Bowie & Eno

On the second side of Heroes, second of the three instrumental tracks. It's bare, tranquil, a soft resignation. A misty and stormy love takes hold in springtime. After I heard it for the first time I did a little Google, and found that the koto was the instrument used on the track. I went on Craigslist to see if there were any around, and found one for $34 (the number of my parents' townhouse growing up) in the suburbs. Two days later I landed a koto of my very own! Now I just need to order the bridge pegs from Japan and learn how to play it...

5. Maggie Cheung's dresses & Tony Leung's smoke...

...in Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood for Love (aka The Flowery Years). Cheung and Leung in the height of their own flowery years. His character is so composed and tough, private and proper. Dignity matters more than "true love." Her dresses are so beautiful, tight, rigid, patterned opulently; they make her look like a bird in a cage. It's funny when she wears slippers, and when she has to sneak back home wearing the other woman's shoes that are too small for her feet. Contrast to her perfect angles is his smoke. It swirls around him, capturing the sadness in the air, circling around his sad eyes.

 

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