Josef Ng

'true freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.' - Mortimer J. Adler The nature of freedom is grounded in the realities of our time. Our sense of liberation, or what's left of it, depends on our perspectives and on how or who gets to experience it. Today, freedom is a flashpoint—it is a confluence of passion and repression, a metaphor of existence circumscribed by changing revolutions. One person's deliverance may be another's chaos. The act of freedom may be frequently misleading. You think you are free but this delusional view of nature—a sign we hear and see everyday in socio-political protocols and aesthetic milieu—is manufactured through the conspiracy of culture and technology. Freedom—what is it good for? American philosopher> Mortimer J. Alder 1 suggests that to free oneself from constraints conveys a utopian vision of life, an idealism that is understood as "the unlimited freedom of complete autonomy, being able to do as he or she pleases." However, individuals being individuals, this unmitigated license enables the strong to overpower the weak, demonstrating that total freedom can also be dangerous, violent. In the absence of social mechanisms for mediating conflict, and temporizing political struggles, there can be no justice. What then is the pluralistic character of freedom as experienced by our contemporary society? This project considers and creates a visual construction that both engages and diverts meaning, creating a startled and obsessive visual sensation of Freedom. By expanding the significations of the concept, this artwork pushes our thinking beyond the scope of justice, and its various interpretations open up new possibilities for transcending judgment. The installation poetically reinterprets notions of time and space, abstraction and representation, landscape and composition. With their radical intuitions sharpened by their independent activities, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu work to convey the profound sense of inconvenience and discomfort offered by the experience of certain genuine or hidden constructions and situations. They invite us to share anew in the emotions wrought by the workings of their wry humor. Macabre, compelling, and sometimes inescapably interactive, their projects offer in-your-face provocations, as well as the evidential sense of an underlying art versus life agenda. Or is it life that is imitating art? For the artists, perhaps, the answer to this question oscillates in both directions. For their first major solo exhibition in their own country after rising to international prominence, the artists have rigorously concentrated on the architectural aspect of the gallery space and the requisite tools. Through the use of essential elements of our quotidian world, such as metal, water, glass, rubber and electricity, they deftly configure the space to contain within it the multiple visual and symbolic relationships between the exhibition site and the artwork. Charged with layered significations, the work offers an aesthetic that is epic in scope. In their use of materials and sitespecific interventions, the artists have formulated a stiff challenge to conventional notions of installation media. In radically transforming the entire gallery, and through meticulous sculptural constructions, the audience is segregated from the work in the viewing area, providing them an ostensible 'safe' vantage point from which they can view a huge black rubber hose that is attached to a water pump, and hung from the ceiling to the middle of the gallery. Between stop-start intervals of a minute or two, sometimes three minutes, the powerful pump shoots a liquid cannonade through the hose, whipping the hose into a frenzied state of perpetual strikes—an endless, absurd and random swinging motion that assaults the surrounding metal walls with a virulent onslaught of sprayed water. Built-up pressure from the mechanized pump frees the hose from the constraints of mere gravity and creates the effect of suspended instability. This presentation concentrates the movement of the hose into a pure, dense 'dance' around the contained space, inciting a kinetic spasm of disjointed motion akin to extreme schizophrenia. It finally leads to a frantic catastrophiclike scene, contained within the larger chronicle of the water cycle. The shooting water makes jarring, thudding noises when it intermittently strikes the walls, creating reactive shocks when least expected. This transferable movement of power, from the generative pump to the 10-meter hose which in turn emits pressure onto the tight stream of water and then finally morphs into unidentifiable shapes, serenaded by a roaring sound, helps to shape the itinerary of a real yet inescapable and symbolic voyage taken in by the viewers throughout the display. You don't even have to see it directly to feel the impact and the violence. With a single flexible tubing carrying the soft fluidity of a liquid crashing against the hard steel, this installation crafts imageries of competing drives and desires, a psychosexual spectacular expressed through an unfettered series of gestures, creations and effects. You can keep staring at it, not knowing what it is about and yet never tire of the chimerical fluid imagery. Working with precision in their method of display, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu lure the viewers towards the themes of inhabitability, absence and presence, and liberation where the static and the vigorous, the visible and the hidden are interconnected in a single network of visual cross-references. Foregrounded in this project is the duo's daringly innovative testing and construction of circuitous protocols and engineering procedures, all achieved through a high degree of labor intensiveness so as to orchestrate a single elegant experiential work that simultaneously directs attention and deflects interpretation, smuggling in neglected core behaviors, calculations and narratives. Rust is formed daily on the metal walls by the water vapors. The rendering of an evolving nature that happens within this exhibition also engenders imageries that are metaphors of a socially subversive agenda; an everchanging painting of a bound infrastructure marked by a controlled yet unpredictable motion, much like today's complex socio-political conditions. The inhabitation of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu's presentation has also been strongly structured, with restricted views to enhance the overall experience. The exhibition is arranged along two fixed routes where viewings are only permitted while exposing the audience to the overwhelming industrial ambience. The random marks and renewed actions etched onto the internal metallic walls and cement floor, analogous to painting on canvas, consequently reveal an emotive density and liberated violence. Our impact upon the potential of freedom is immense. Our minds are captivated with thoughts of it. We see codes and signs about it every day. We sense the potential that is embodied within this space, but do we dare to embrace it when confronted directly? How much of the potential can be influenced and transmitted? How much is subject to our control? In this case, the artists convey and reflect a dimension of freedom that erupts from certain spatial collisions that occur in urban developments, the politicization of civic spaces and the fluctuations of capitalism. The backdrop of the installation is simple and approachable yet very complex. It can open up an array of terrifying and hurtful questions. Depending on your perspective, this is either a monster, or a thing of great beauty. Behind these grand narratives, however, within such elaborate design, the freedom created by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu appears in a form that is naturalistic and smooth. Like the deep uncertainties embedded in their materials, and the intentionally incoherent methods chosen for their projects, they always realize a perfect rhythm of transformation. Rigid analogies of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu's Freedom are, perhaps, as far away from the work as the concept of "biology" is to real living and breathing beings. Perhaps for the artists, freedom is merely an exciting game full of joyfulness; and theories may only be invoked to enable us to understand and play along with their game.




- Mortimer J. Adler

自由的本质蕴藏在我们时代的现实中。我们对于自由和解放 的理解,因着每个个体的角度,背景和经验的不同而或许 存有差异。今天,自由是一个敏感和痛苦的话题:一个人的 自由权利的实施有可能是令一个人的苦难的起因。有时候自 由的行为和意志未必会导致正确的结果。自由有时只是一 种幻觉,我们每日所听所见,在社会政治的喧嚣中,以及文 化艺术的流变中,都凸显和改变着自由的形式。 自由,它的价值和益处在哪里?它指的是那种摆脱任何限 制与规定,追求绝对的个体自治的乌托邦式的概念吗?自由 是否指的是人们可以做任何想做的事情?只需顾及自我的感 受,就像美国哲学家Mortimer J. Alder 所指出的那样?1 然而,个体就是个体,这种绝对的自由使得强大的可以欺 凌弱小的,它让我们意识到如果没有正义与公理的存在,没 有有效的社会机制的约束,绝对的自由就可以演变成为危 险的暴力。那么,我们的当代社会所经验的自由的多样性又 是什么呢? 孙原和彭禹这件以自由命名的作品通过视觉语言的建构,创 造出了令人震惊和痴迷的视觉化的自由,即强化了它原本的 含义,又引导出更多的歧义和超越判断的可能。自由这件 装置作品把时间与空间,抽象与再现,景观与构成这些不同 的元素,极为诗意地整合在了一起。多年来,两位艺术家 秉持着他们激进的直觉,一直以他们自己的节奏与风格,来 制造各种“麻烦”的事件,去揭示在日常的现实经验之后所 可能隐匿的潜在情景与结构。他们的那些充满黑色幽默的作 品引发了我们在情感上的新的体验,即使有时候令人毛骨 悚然,然而却发人深省,有时甚至迫使你不得不直面作品中 所蕴藏的残酷本质。这种本质隐藏在生活的表象之下,藉 由艺术加以剥离和呈现。在这里艺术与生活没有清晰的界 限,它们时时处在彼此互换的状态。 在赢得了国际上的普遍赞誉后,两位艺术家在国内推出了他 们的第一个个展,围绕着这个项目,艺术家把展览场地的 空间整个地加以了一番改造,使用日常熟悉的材料,诸如金 属、水、玻璃、橡胶和电,使得展示空间与展出的作品之 间形成了一种多维的和具有强烈视觉冲突的状态。经由多层 次的再现,以及媒介的运用与空间特殊性的完美结合,作 吴承祖
品体现了一种史诗性的审美力量,它突破和挑战了通常对于 装置作品的理解。通过改变整个展出空间的结构,使观众 只能透过金属墙壁上开出的类似舷窗的结构来透视四面围 合的空间内发生的事情。观众能够看见一条粗长的黑色橡 胶水龙头悬挂于封闭的空间内,与一只水泵相连接,并由一 个电子计时器来控制启动与关闭的间隔。水泵瞬间所输送出 的强大压力使得水喉喷射出力量强劲的高压水柱,同时这 股巨大水压也使得黑色的水喉在空间里发生剧烈的摇摆和 抽搐,与地面和墙壁发生激烈的碰撞与拍打,就好像从水 泵里所释放的能量让橡胶水喉得以摆脱地心的引力,从而 显示它的强大的不受约束的不稳定力量。观众犹如在观看 一个在封闭舞台空间里进行着的眼花缭乱,激烈狂暴的舞 蹈表演,它最终导致一种可控制的,周期性的,具有暴力 倾向的,神经错乱般的灾难景象。喷射出的强大水流同时 在与围合的金属墙面发生碰撞时制造出了巨大的撞击声,强 化了作品对于观众心理上的威慑作用。这种瞬间释放的力量, 与十米长的狂乱飞舞的水管,激射的水流,以及沉闷猛烈 的撞击噪音 一起,在观者的脑海里形成了无法回避和忽视 的一幕。观众甚至无需借助于观看都能够感知那种直接的 冲击与暴力。在经过了压力的推挤后,水这种柔软的物质转 化成了象征权利欲望以及精神性欲的怪兽,它的变幻莫测 的形状吸引着人们下意识的目光,思想被翻腾暴烈的图像所 占据。
在看似狂乱的作品之后,是严密的计算与控制。孙原与彭禹 以一种高度精确的方法工作着,设计他们作品展示的每一 个具体细节和结构。通过这样一件装置作品把静止的和变 动的,可见的与隐藏的维度融合在了一起。两位艺术家大胆 的创新与尝试造就了这件难以界定的,不可度量的非几何的 机械结构。这件试验性的作品耗费了大量的人力物力以及 技术解决方案,它无疑很吸引人的眼球,但又难以对它加 以解释,观众将被它的外表所吸引,却有可能忽略掉它所 蕴含的复杂的世界。随着时间的推移,因为水流的冲刷,金 属墙壁上滋生出大片的锈蚀,这种自然发生的物理作用所形 成的景象也隐喻了一种社会性的颠覆动力:在一个有限的社 会结构内被控制的然而又是无法预期的运动的力量。它令 人想起了今日社会的复杂的政治现实。 孙原与彭禹作品所呈现的内在空间性被特别设计的观看方 式所进一步强化。展示的路线被设计成两条固定的线路, 观者只能在规定的观察点接近作品,而中间隔着钢化玻璃和金属板壁。

在围合的内部,金属墙板和水泥地面呈现出 随机分布的腐蚀斑块,犹如在画布上挥洒出的表现主义的 痕迹,不受控制,自由而暴力。由此人们可以感受到,在自 由中所蕴藏的巨大的潜在力量。我们每天都接触到关于自由 的各种符号和编码,我们真切地感受到了那种试图冲破包 围的破坏型力量。当我们面对它时,我们是否敢于拥抱它和 拥有它?我们能否学会运用和转化这种潜能,我们怎样控 制这种力量?在这个意义上,艺术家通过再现物理空间内的 碰撞和冲突,来表达对于发生在我们社会中的种种现象的 反思——自由的概念和维度,作为一种意识形态,在面对 城市空间的无序发展,市民空间的政治化以及资本主义意识 形态的滥觞等社会现象时,应该怎样介入它们之间的冲突。 这件装置作品的思想背景既简单又深刻和复杂,它可能引发
痛苦和激烈的问题与思考。它就像是一头美丽的怪兽, 留给 观者无尽的遐想。
然而,在这些庞大的理论、沉重的观念和精密的设计背后, 孙原彭禹的自由来的又是那样的自然和顺畅,犹如他们创作 时所选择的不确定的材料和不统一的方法一样变化自如,当 我们亲身经历他们的作品的时候,这些理论和解读像是围 绕着他们的涟漪而不是他们的核心,这些严肃的理论对于 孙原彭禹的自由来说也许就像是“生物学”与“生物”本身 一样如此不同。也许,自由对于他们来说仅仅是一个充满乐 趣和兴奋的玩水游戏;也许,所有的理论仅仅是我们自己为 了了解他们的游戏给自己寻找和编造的理由。