"Escape" Song Chang's Mix Media Exhibition
City: Dalian
Curator: Xu Xiaolou
Duration: 2019-03-30 ~ 2019-04-30
Opening: Sat. 2019.3.30 14:00
Venue: Junmei Art Commune
Address: No.448 Hutan Road Dalian (In the middle of Zhongnan Police Station and Reggae Middle School)
Participating Artist(s): Song Chang
Host(s): Dalian Artist Association、Dalian Chapter of Liaoning Youth Artist Association、Institute of Comtemporary Art, Dalian University of Technology、Dalian Junmei Art Commune


Song Chang

To start from a daily thinking. One day when I was watering flowers, I found a pot plant who used to be aggressively spreading its seeds had stopped seeding, probably due to the over-crowded living space in the flowerpot. That has given me a hint that even a plant could have its complete logic. While the environment is changing, plants might not think but adjust themselves.

The similar rhythm can be found here and there. Modern humans have been aiming at disease control and immortalization, but new worries keep coming out when we’ve truly got some achievements, such as: Declining marriage rate, Increasing suicide number and Male Infertility Crisis describing the rapid decrease in sperm quality… Seemingly have human got a control over life while a higher rule is circuitously controlling human somehow. Human can yet do nothing about these modern troubles just the same as decades of years ago when we couldn’t do anything about those epidemics. We could say the flower pot in which human beings are being planted is gleaming.

Surely, human’s cognition is being promoted and scientific research is being refined more and more. The way that human connect to the world has been substantially changed thanks to science and mathematics. However, ‘world’ is always a world in human’s perception and cognition. There is always something or some series of events out of human’s grasp, behind which there seems to be a transcendental rhythm. It’s like Martin Heidegger’s Earth, a mysterious and esoteric rhythm of chaos, or similar as Logos by Heraclitus, the account which governs everything outside human’s intelligence.

I consider these installations or videos as a step towards the rhythm or the ‘law’ behind. Some are tricks with logic and regulation, for example of < Mobius band > and < Three cigarettes away >. Some are trying to show human’s state of concealment, such as < Civilization > and < Individual entity >. As for < Sundial > and < Tree >, they are rather like a subjective surmise over uncertainty and transcendence.

Although Heidegger had given an explanation that concealment and unconcealment always opposite each other in dependency, and had led us to the struggle set up by art between ‘World’ and ‘Earth’, ‘Aufgang’ and ‘Bergung’, these efforts anyway seems to have been caught in a logic and language predicament.

Since we are the beings who think only through language, we will meet this predicament or limitation some time or other. But on the contrary, plants and animals could show more implicity for no ‘thinking’. They don’t think or talk, merely live their rhythm and reflect it by living. From our perspective, they are governed by a so-called truth and reflecting it out at the same time, but they just cannot ‘see’ the truth.

Now referring to our perspective over plants and animals, we may also imagine a field over us which is similar as Heidegger’s Earth, something like “the background against which every meaningful ‘worlding’ emerges”, but ‘It is outside (unintelligible to) the ready-to-hand.’ As for < Sundial >, < Civilization > or < Individual entity >, the installation itself can be considered as ‘World’ which is intelligible by human beings, while the space outside, where the audience are standing, is Earth. Usually, human just active amid theses installations. In < Sundial > is human expecting the to-happen to happen. In < Civilization > can we see the frameworks and methods created for culture or science study and the regulations and beliefs built for whatever reasons. In < Individual entity > , humans are also involved inside and dreaming for ‘Earth’. Yet there is a boundary between Earth and World, which has kept the Earth away from human, and the boundary, as far as I concerned, is Civilization.

Here I use civilization indicating the three of bellowing: Human’s Sensory Perception, Language, and Logical Thinking basis on the two above.

First, language is used to describe the world so that it’s anyway Inside ‘World’, whether language of mathematical astronomy or that of philosophy works. Language has always been taken as understood before suspected, as Plato says in < Sophist >: Every time saying the word ‘being’, you’ve obviously understood what it means. As far as we concerned, however, even with some comprehension already, we’ve been trapped into an awkward situation.

It’s known that language derives from human’s sense organ. At the same time, it also keeps molding back how human think. So that sensory perception and language promote each other and has finally made up the civilization of today.

The fact is nobody can go over how language has formed step by step, before given the sound which has been already decided. Then by language, he learns knowledge, in which a flat with legs is ‘named’ as Table and a pushable hard board between two separated spaces to be ‘called’ Door. In this way has a boundary of civilization stiffly weaved by language formed between human’s daily world and Earth, i.e. the field of truth.

What does human commonly do within this boundary? Firstly, they sense and perceive the world by sense organs; then they use signs to indicate the world, among which the lansign specially developed to explain the world; finally human returns to themselves trying to explain their being with language. This could also be a hint why the popularity of Self and Individual culture had been waiting for so long.

As the German philosopher and anthropologist Arnold Gehlen said that it was circuitous that human realized themselves through the exteriorization of themselves. But in my view, whether the circuitous way Gehlen indicated or human’s activity of learning about selves, is happening within the boundary of civilization, which I mean that almost never could human’s researching activity really get to his essence (the inner of the sphere) or the truth over the world (space outside the sphere).

I would say the boundary is the most complicated place, inside which humans still keep ‘creating’ and ‘weaving’ (what I say, a net of concepts) to worsen the complication. The more human ‘think’ and ‘study’, the farer that truth keeps human away. Along with the prosperity of civilization, human has thoroughly exiled their mind away from Earth. So that civilization is what causes the oblivion of self existence, as well as an oblivion of the oblivion.

Since human’s ‘creating’ and ‘weaving’ always go through sense, perception and language, we could say that civilization, no matter how magnificent it is, derives from sense organ and language primarily. Even though the limitation of sense, perception and language is concealed by busy life, things can time to time vibrate over our habitual cognition. That’s probably because of the ‘internality’, about which Gehlen said, it is strong enough to make human aware of the Versachlichung and systematization in society being excessive and being a non-truth (Unwahrheit). But even in awareness, human still have to follow the social life and try to forget about his essential existence through civilization, though he can also realize himself of being lost time to time. In this process they can be suffering from an inner disintegration.

So, that’s what I want to indicate by leaving a handwriting ‘Rule’ at the corner of < Civilization >. The absurd logic in it can be totally as reasonable as those we are familiar with nowadays. That means this piece of rule is merely the same as those already in the civilization, such as the customs formality, identification paper, procedures of bank deposits, laws of chess or any other regulations of a contest or rewards, and we can also say the civilization is merely a game as this handwriting ‘rule’. It’s we who define it as reasonable or unreasonable, and I wish the audience who stand outside < Civilization > and right in Earth, can understand more easily.

Gehlen’s saying as ‘Human trying to forget about his essential existence through civilization’, in my opinion, might not be that an individual decides to ‘put on’ the civilization to cover a suspensive existence of himself. That saying is more likely to be a view over the whole evolution of civilization. These installation works are just attempting to show this overall view.

I’d like to describe < Individual entity > and < Civilization > as specimen of Being. < Individual > is more like a momentary status while < Civilization > is like a concrete image of a metaphysical process of evolution.

As mentioned above, sense, perception and language are what conceal the being, then how much can these installations weaken an audience’s inherent sense, perception and his impulsion of using language to explain? My answer will be negative and in this exhibition there is even no such attempt. < Sundial > and < Tree > are merely disordering the usual human sense and perception. They would become really boring and absurd if I have overestimated them of having such power.

In < Sundial > every burning candle symbolizes a happening and the next happening is totally thrown into uncertainties. The audience is supposed to watch in an expectative and summoning mood which is more likely to be ended in disappointment. Along with this disappointment, the possibilities normally to have been neglected by human’s daily sense and perception, i.e. the phenomenon out of facticity, now ought to be encountered. That’s a humongous space of nothingness, in which nothing has happened for human. This so-called mood of expectative and summoning, if there really is, should be considered as audience’s demand for logic and the impulsion of judgement. Yet as I said, in most of the possibilities nothing would have materially happened, while a light ring from the only burning candle poorly moving around as time goes by. From my perspective, the burning candle can represents any happening within human’s cognition, so that the space outside the acrylic ball, where audience are standing is ‘Earth’, the unintelligible field of truth.

< Tree > is a very subjective attempt on showing the power of Things, in which I simply marked out the space-time power of things by transparent balloons. What’s more, the balloons will shrink when time passing away and gradually become an external force against those branches. At those moments, the branches will have shown out their power, whether strong or weak, which I consider as the mood of things. This is not a spurious trick but a sincere and sentimental expression of my daily feeling. I wish those lively beings whoever is revealing a tough attitude or a wish to survive, emotion of sorrow or a tender nature, would be seriously noticed.

If < Tree > is human’s abuse of subjectivity and an over interpretation of things via civilization, another fact would also be revealed, which is human’s forgetting about their own Thingness. Human are too much enclosed by civilization that their mind has been suspended. This doesn’t mean the authentic existence being concealed, but an overlook of their physical relationship with the natural material world. The fact is: human are always being involved in the general circulation of this material world, as a thing. So that if there’s truth, human and things must be together involved in it. We can hardly get to truth before we recall the relationship between human and things.

Accordingly, I have the video installation < Icebergs and apples > to disclose the correlation between things. I’m suspicious of the usual demarcation and definition of things. Actually when we are trying to demarcate them, their correlation has become obvious at the same time, which can be much too complicated for human to have all the minor factors taken in. However, the ignorance of those minor factors, to some degree, has modified human’s idea on time-space. We all know the ‘Butterfly Effect’ saying that a very small difference can make a significant difference elsewhere or at some later time. It’s in this way, as I concerned, things are correlated. But most of the correlations which has not produced a visible or influential effect on human, as what tsunami has done, are kicked out of human’s logical thinking. So, what if we have all the factors taken in? Will that bring us a totally different demarcation and definition of things and a new idea of time-space accordingly? Then I had the idea of < Icebergs and apples > as an suppositional present of the fusion of things and their interweaving into each other. Apple, a typical thing of daily life, and iceberg which is far from daily life may also be correlated with each other through many immeasurable or unintelligible links. This kind of correlation can overcome the restriction by common idea of time-space and lead us to such a visual angle: the disintegration of icebergs is the apples’ natural pattern, which means the case of disintegration is involved in apples’ being so that the icebergs are apple’s real boundary (I’m not talking about metaphysic but about physic); while on the other hand, an apple here in the 21st century can also be defined as a remote echo of a prehistorical icebergs’ disintegration.

Will there be any artworks possible to weaken human’s sense, perception or replace language? I’m afraid that’s fallacious because a thing is always and only perceived by physical organs, and thinking always or maybe only happens through language.

Though so much explanations are given above, the works themselves are definitely more than this. I’m just trying to make it clear that who I was supposing myself to be, which perspective I was thinking from, and what mood I was in when making these installations. Yet of course, the explanations of those things are not unique or fixed. Even for myself, the meaning of each part can be time to time changing along with the latest thinking and study, which can give the whole installation a totally different meaning. So I would rather consider these vague and simple images as my thinking molds.


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[Editor] 张艳