呼吸“我”的空气
文:李振华

前言

和G与S认识是在2005年,看了他们的作品《nowhere》,这个项目可以被解释成为无所不在或者哪里也不是。技术上使用了CAVE(山洞多媒体立体投影)的技术设计,因为S是游戏引擎设计专家,作品呈现的三维互动方式非常的吸引我。之后应EIKON的邀请写了一篇与这个项目对应的中国新媒体现状与奥地利新媒体比较的文章,写的也是这个展览的观感。2007年G邀请我策划一个他们新的计划,我欣然允诺。这之前我还为G的观念作品——一本书《Yx》写了一个关于艺术经济的文章,由于翻译的原因,我们加深了了解与误读,因为我相信有些时候误读也是了解的部分,而认知往往来自于此。《呼吸“我”的空气》就是关于这样一个命题,在“我”被设定为主体的时候,他者文化本身就是主观存在,我想这也许就是作者的意图,也许是作者试图改善的交流方式,前提和背景都来自于这个全球化的现象,时间设置为现在。

空气的雕塑/没有实体的视觉景观与意识流交汇之所

艺术一直在尝试通过各种可能的方式突破“物”的局限,无论是杜尚的现成品观念、安迪沃霍的复制品观念、白南准的媒体艺术,都在试图突破艺术的可能性。空气、光、观念——可见、不可见——可触摸、不可触摸——可感知、不可感知,都构成艺术探索的新方向,当代艺术的观念正是从这些方向中脱离下来的碎片(物品)所构成的新经济模式下书写的美术史。
空气的雕塑,本来是一个矛盾的共同体。不可见的雕塑,却可以感知和进入。当信息被传达,这个无所不在的空间就构成了标准的当代艺术之“物”。存在的意识通过这些方法被呈现的空间感被呈现,无法逾越的空间和不可能被看见的空间(文化空间)构成的不可见,不可见的空间中不可见的氧气,和空间中存在的关于交流的“墙”,构成的双重不可见的物的存在。
人类大脑在富氧空间会出现兴奋的现象,思维会更加敏捷。这些被物理性激发思维的观众,是否会为这些项目提供必须的互动?或者增进对“乌托邦、进步、改变”的认知?或者是情绪化的被访谈者的言语带入某种不确定的维度之中?如果这些思维都变成可见的,那么这些思维者的视觉化景观将呈现一个什么样的图景?

信息交互/来自不同知识背景的浅谈

对话——来自人类文明起始的方法,对“乌托邦、进步、改变”的看法,如果放置在一个以被访问者为主体的情景中,其情况是什么样的?当这个项目直指他者文化的时候,这些谈论往往成为成见或者对某种偏见存在提供佐证。却明确了当谈及他者文化的暴力,这来自于之前的西方殖民文化在其文化线索中的遗留,和对中国经济开放所带来的文化现象的偏见。
被访谈者来自不同的职业(艺术范畴),所谈及之方面、角度大有不同,这不得不让我们反思全球化问题下,这一涉及到的观念的多样性。是什么让这些艺术工作者有类似的看法?!当然这为观众提供了参照,这些即时的信息传达是否正是我们这个时代的代表。这反映在网络文化的暴力上,也反映在当代艺术的暴力上(双年展、艺术博览会)。
在不同文化背景中,对他者的批评仿佛正在成为主流的方式,如奇泽克在针对美国文化所体现的资本主义弊端的批判。而交流上的误读,正在促进这个方式发生在全球范围的政治、经济、文化上。这反映在移民问题、身份问题、边界问题等等所有出现的争议上,我们正在假设一种障碍,并通过文化的方式来证明这种障碍的存在,为此我们需要提供必要的条件来让这些虚拟的信息找到依托。以强势中心文化为对应,我们也就承认这类文化的合法性存在,并通过对应关系将其中心化。
更多的时候,这一中心化是通过想象来完成的。如马克波罗对蒙古王城(中国)的想像,中国80年代对美国的想像,2000年后对中国的大国威胁想像,对穆斯林世界整体恐惧的想像,都构成了今天世界文化新格局。信息交流因为太多,所以无法判断其真伪,今日全球化景观与科学技术正在为我们提供一个超空间,而我们需要尝试着在这个空间中存在,并扮演一个可能的民族主义者、人文主义者、现实批判主义者、资本主义者、共产主义者或者其他,当然身份和政治倾向也是可以被赋予的。除此之外还有信仰或其他?!

不可能的任务/注定无法了解的“他者”

这个项目中的乌托邦=不可能,因为乌托邦是建立在哲学与神学基础上的,中国和世界都在面临着共同的问题——全球化,而当前的问题是增进了解与技术革新。乌托邦在现在几乎是不可能的任务,但是却有着现世的普世效应,如同新世纪的曙光一样绚烂,在2000年后被知识分子讨论的全球化问题,对全球化带来的恐慌早已消失在《世界是平的》之中。2005年后仿佛世界已经完全的接轨并构成了一种单纯中复杂的全球化现象,当解读是不可能的时代,到不沟通也是沟通的现在,全球化进入了2.0时代,变的可爱起来。人们从谈论其国家身份到相互之间逐渐淡化的国家、政治身份。个体与个体的依存关系更加的明显,多种来自网络、虚拟社群的个体集合逐渐构成新的社会形态,而这些个体则来自世界各地。是否了解已经达成,差异性从国家(观念)的消失开始逐渐消解在流动的现实之中?“他者”这个相对于“我”存在的多重角色,“他者”即是“我”之外的指涉对象,同时也是在谈论“我”的主体所在,“他者——我——他者”构成了一个循环,或是某种现实的延伸?

后记

曾经有着很多这样的项目出现,如一个摄影师针对移民的拍摄,呈现的是这些移民的脸和他们的生存境况,波兰艺术家Joanna Rajkowska作品《氧气发生器》Oxygenator中那个富氧的公共空间,所能提供消弭其不可见政治边界的作用。都为这个类型的项目提供了一个样本,氧气——不可见的雕塑,在为人类提供生存的必须,也为我们消除偏见和固有观念的边界。

这一文本撰写自2009年初,最终完成于2010年9月19日,期间《呼吸我的空气》展览已经在798和杭州的四零空间展出。

呼吸我的空气 BMA_Gerald Nestler+Sylvia Eckermann: http://geraldnestler.net/breathemyair/index.html
Joanna Rajkowska作品《氧气发生器》Oxygenator: http://www.rajkowska.com/en/oxygenator.php

Breathe “my” air
by Li Zhenhua

Foreword

I had my first encounter with G and S in 2005 during their project “n o w h e r e”, which was based on the CAVE technology (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), as S is a specialist in game engines design. The three dimensional interaction aspect in her work was most intriguing to me. Later on I was asked by EIKON (International Magazine for Photography and Media Arts) to contribute an article about the current state of new media in China in relation to Austria; prompted by “n o w h e r e”, I gave an account of my impressions of this project.
In 2007 G challenged me to put together a plan for a new project, which I gladly accepted as already had written an essay about the economics of art for G's publication “Yx”. Through the translation of this text we've become quite acquainted with the problems of misconceptions, and it showed me that sometimes misconceptions are just a step towards understanding: real comprehension is often not achievable without this step.
“Breathe My Air” raises this issue, the “my” in the title already indicates subjectivity, so the view on the other culture becomes automatically a subjective one. I think this is exactly the intention of this project, with the ultimate goal of an attempt to improve the ways of communication in our current age of globalization.

Sculpture of Air / The merging point between the intangible visual landscape and the stream of consciousness

Art has always been trying to break through the limits of “substance” in all kinds of imaginable ways – Marcel Duchamp's found objects, Andy Warhol's silkscreens, and Nam June Paik’s media art are all attempts to max out art's potential.
Air, light, concept – visible or invisible, tangible or intangible, perceivable or unperceivable, these are the components of a new exploration of art. The fragments of these components formed the new economy and under these circumstances contemporary art came into being.
A sculpture made of air is actually a paradox—an invisible sculpture, however perceivable and concrete. When the idea is conveyed, this ubiquitous space becomes the standard “substance” of contemporary art. The awareness within appears through the created sense of space that arises, the space that cannot be exceeded and cannot be seen form the invisible, the invisible oxygen in the invisible space and the “wall” of exchange that exists within the space, provide the existence of the actual invisible substance.
The human brain, when exposed to an oxygen-enriched environment, reaches a state of excitement, ideas are developing much faster. I wonder if the thoughts of the visitors stimulated by this chemical reaction are going to provide the necessary interaction for this project? Or if they are going to promote the ideas of “Progress, Change and Utopia”, or if they are going to fall into an undefined dimension, taken by the words of the interviewees. If all those thoughts were to become visible, what kind of scenery would that be?

Interactive Knowledge / A brief talk derived from different backgrounds

Dialogue: a practice that has existed since the beginnings of civilization. What would be the thoughts on “Progress, Change and Utopia”, if we let the participants talk freely? When a project is only about the “other” culture, the statements often turn into prejudices or provide evidence for the existence of certain prejudices. This shows clearly the power of speech, how much effect it can have on another culture, how deeply rooted Western colonial ideas still are and how many prejudices people have about China's cultural development since its economic reforms.
The interviewees come from different areas of the art industry; the topics and point of views are rather varied, which leads us to consider the issue of globalization and the concept of diversity involved in that. How come these artists have similar thoughts? Of course it provides some kind of reference for the visitors, but isn't this immediate information exchange a perfect representation of our age? This is reflected through the massive flux of information in internet culture and contemporary art (Biennales, art fairs, etc.).
Criticizing “the other” seems to have become a general trend in various cultures, for instance Slavoj Žižek's critique of the evils of capitalism in American culture. However, the communicational misconceptions are furthering this trend, even globally, in the areas of politics, economics and culture. It can be seen in the heated discussions over the issues of immigration, identity or border disputes. But this kind of obstacle is an imagined one and we try to prove its existence by pointing out our cultural differences, making us look for conditions to support these prejudices and stereotypes. In response to a strong centralized culture, we have to accept the legitimacy of this kind of culture and follow it by means of corresponding relationships.
More often this kind of centralization is created through imagination. Like Marco Polo's visions of China, or China's idea of the US in the 80s, or the imagined threat of China since the beginning of the new millennia, or the fear of a global Islamification. All these created the new structures of the present global culture. Because of an overload of information, it becomes impossible to determine the truth. Globalization, science and technology provide us with a hyperspace and we have to try to survive there, while maneuvering through the possible roles of nationalist, humanist, critical realist, capitalist, communist, or whatever “-ist”. Of course identity or political attitude can also be something that is given. And besides these, there is also religion, and even other factors?!

Impossible Task / Determining the alien “other”

Utopia in this project equals the impossible, because the idea of utopia is deeply rooted in philosophy and theology. However China and the whole world are faced with the same issue: globalization, and promoting the technological innovations that come with it. Utopia is an almost impossible task today, but it does have a universal effect on our lives, which is as bright as the dawn of the new century. The discourse on globalization since the new millennia and Thomas Friedman's “The World Is Flat” has long lost its sense of panic. After 2005 the world seems to have created a simple, but complex phenomenon of globalization. From a period where understanding was an impossible task, until the present where non-communication has also become a form of communication, globalization entered the state of 2.0. It started to become “likeable”: from the discussion of national identities, to the gradual disappearance of national and political identities. The interdependence between individuals is becoming more obvious. The many different online or virtual communities of individuals from around the world are gradually becoming new forms of society. The difference started with the disintegration of the concept of nations to its gradual dissolving into a shifting reality. “The other” which can take many different forms in relation to the “I”, is also a point of reference for the “I”, at the same time as discussing the whereabouts of “I”.
“The Other – I – The Other” are becoming a cycle, or some kind of extension of reality.

Epilogue

There was a period where many similar projects emerged, many photographers or artists' presented portraits of immigrants showing their living conditions from the surface of things; or the Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska's project “Oxygenator”, a public space enriched with oxygen, which tried to question the function of invisible political borders. These all paved the way for this kind of project. Oxygen: an invisible sculpture, while being a fundamental of life, also eliminates borders created from prejudices and inherent ideas.

This essay was written in the beginning of 2009, but finished on 19.9.2010. During this period “Breathe My Air” was exhibited in Beijing's 798 Art District and Four Zero Space, Hangzhou.

BMA_Gerald Nestler+Sylvia Eckermann: http://geraldnestler.net/breathemyair/index.html
Joanna Rajkowska Oxygenator: http://www.rajkowska.com/en/oxygenator.php

(Chinese-Eglish: Zhao Weina / Proofreading: Edward Sanderson )
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