Under the sign of internet - connections and double meanings
2019.03.16 - 2019.04.20
Artists: Chen Ke, Dai Chenlian, Dong Dawei , Fan Xi, He Wei, He Zike, Hu Qingtai , Hu Wei, Jin Ningning, Lao Jiahui, Li Weiyi, Lin Aojie, Liu Dongxu, Liu Fujie, Lyu Zhiqiang, Mi Nian, Nabuqi, Nie Shiwei , Qiu Ruixiang, Wang Jiang, Wu Di, Yao Qingmei, Zeng Hong, Zhang Lehua , Zhang Miao, Zhang Shujian

Under the sign of internet - connections and double meanings
(by DongJing)

The 80s generation grew up with the invention of the Internet, while the 90s and new millennium generations have been in full immersion from the get-go. For them, how is their everyday experience different from that of the previous generations?

Consider this scenario. A man walks into the kitchen in the morning, takes a grapefruit, and cuts it open with the technique he found online from the night before. He takes a few pieces and throws them into the blender, after a few buzzes, he dismantle the cup and the blade. The juice in the cup looks milky, it has the same color as a Crucian carp soup. He wonders, what the heck? He takes the cup with him and sits at the dining table for breakfast. Still obsessed with this milky grapefruit juice, “why?” He wonders. “Had I put too many pieces of grapefruit?” He takes out his phone, and begins to search for “grapefruit, milky”. The two search results he got had nothing to do with grapefruit, either did they tell him why it’s milky, but a list of subjects related to grapefruit juice shows up including, “What’s the best fruit to blend with grapefruit?” “Should you take off the pith of the grapefruit?”; “What are the medicinal use of grapefruit rind?” “How to make grapefruit tea?” and etc., as he scrolls down, he finds an article about grapefruit and the ketogenic diet. Like many others, it’s a copy-and-pasted article, which goes without saying that nowadays, the way of doing anything is essentially about re-organizing existing information and turns it into new content.

In the film,The Transformers, Bumblebee’s audio system had a glitch, he connects the vocabulary and short phrases from different radio stations to express himself. Lawrence Li once said in his podcast, “Writing solely with quotations in the pano-media time is the ultimate path, anything and anyone is somehow connected, and to discover these connections has almost created a full-time job. Using one’s own words to reiterate what others have said and pretend that’s one’s own opinion is not as straightforward as just stringing what’s been said together.” He then went on to talked about Ohtaki Eiichi’s accusation of plagiarism who responded blatantly with, “You’ve only seen the one song I copied, you didn’t see the other three. Let me tell me which ones they are.” Unlike plagiarism, this is taking existing things in quotation marks and connecting them into one’s own work, through editing and piecing them together into something new.

The Internet allowed information to explode and become accessible. Anything one wants to find out could be searched for online. However, the world did not become easier to know, instead it opened up to a bottomless abyss, waiting for people to fill. No matter how obscure the subject you are interested in, there could be an enormous universe behind it, and any contingent would open up to a black hole. There are many thousands of plateaus, sub-cultures, netizens, and more people searching for sub-culture. In the age of the Internet, diversity is not only necessary but has become a natural state, to retrieve this knowledge only takes the internet surfers inputting the search entries, and then copy and paste the content. In this sense, achieving a professional level in any field can be measured with the time spent searching, the more one spends time, the more one will know. By the same token, because the content is infinite, this time could take ten thousand years.

In recent years, more and more artists have adopted the model that organizes and lists visual sources and materials in their practices. They are more inclined to use reason to suppress emotions while they iterate the various perspectives of a subject. In a way, this model produces Wikipedia-entry type of artworks, regardless of the depth of one's research. Their thinking has essentially become linear in spite of the various tangential add-ons. Subsequently, viewing this kind of works does not require moving the camera, because a fixed position would allow the viewer to see it from the beginning to the end.

“Ten Thousand Plateaus isa collaborative publication by the French philosophers Gilles Delouse and Felix Guattari. According to the authors, it was written in “rhizome” way, and the various plateaus that constitute the Ten Thousand Plateauscan be read in any order. Thus any reading of the entire volume could produce a kind of linear interpretation.”

This line is similar to the one that connects the stars of a constellation, although they are not in the same time and space, but can be connected by a line on a surface.

In other words, the various types of connections among these entries could potentially challenge the linear logic of dichotomy.

At the end of last year, I saw Yao Qingmei’s work at Cache: One Rehearsal, which consisted of eight different plays, connected by related yet different points, each one of them was expansive, yet are put gather and overlap among themselves, it revolves around a phenomenon and the abstracted forms of the series of events it provokes, which made this work quite rich. 

"One Rehearsal" encompassed eight performances I did during my residence at Cache Space (Beijing) this year. The document here gathers images, notes, texts and sketches I prepared for the show, which points out several parallel clues to think of my practices. These materials are not only the tools to assist me in thinking about the space segmentation, scenery, blocking and the on-site arrangement for the project, but also work as a visual medium to be a part of the "scene" itself. Like the performance, although the layout of these documents is a result of careful calculations and measurements, the flowing possibilities still could be seen within the arrangement, with some kind of elasticity continuously generated from it. Through the physical flow of the actors, dancers, and audiences, the site, as a stage where the rehearsal was run, achieves a differentiation, transformation and mutual penetration among dance, gesture, and texts within the theatre and non-theatre, performance and non-performance spaces. (Yao Qingmei’s artist statement for the exhibition Disappearing Archives, presented at MoCube, curated by Fuca Yuan, in January 2019)

This work can be considered a performance of rhizomic effect, instead of embellishing and complementing the entry, it provides a different perspective to viewing, as the work of art consists of connecting these “non-linear temporal axis” rather than a simple search entry.

Geng(trolls) is the general term for popular search entries.

A geng(troll) is an online lingo for laughing stock, which comes from the term gen(jokes), has expanded beyond jokes to idioms, however, this idiom does not point to something classic, rather, it refers to something popular, about the things that the general public is aware of, which generate a resonance. It’s generally related to social and contemporary matters. Furthermore, only hot subjects would be appropriated, and once they are used, they’d be referred to as a geng. Often a simple word or short phrase would flatten and simply a rather complex event or incident. For instance, “Nude photo scandal”, “Five-finger mountain”, any of these keywords could become a troll, “pink patriots”, “voluntary 50 cents”, when these terms are mentioned, everything connected to the term would immediately unravel on people’s mind, its density is like a compressed file, sent via the work of art, hence its time of communication is shortened.

The artists' group Casual Location has designed various gangfor the Submarine Bar project, the seaweed seaweed seaweed, plastic sisters and etc on their drink list are obvious word plays that poke people’s curiosity. Lin Aojie’s work, Good Men of Sanyacaptured the dialogue of two artists, Liang Ban, and Dai Chenlian, during the Sanya Huayu Young Artists Award, these two award hopefuls left empty-handedly, either it was from Sanya or the Three Gorges.

The use of Geng(trolls) relies on common knowledge. 

The film Long Day’s Journey into Night, has fully appropriated Tarkovsky’s filmography, perhaps there aren’t many people who are familiar with Tarkovsky, although the music at the end of the film is a literal reminder of the song Innocence, that immediate turn a baffling Tarkovsky into the familiar Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex.

There are also incidents of miscommunication. In the film, Crazy Alien, the Chinese and foreigners’different understandings of facial expressions created certain barriers. When the film director Ning Hao had to communicate with his action team, “To him, the major issue was the cost of communication. The current visual effect technology in China is yet able to simulate realistic organisms, which forced him to collaborate with an American team. Both teams had disparate understandings with regards to the details of acting, the Chinese facial expressions through the eyes, mouth and etc are entirely different from the Americans, in order to simulate these expressions onto the alien, and to superimpose the facial expressions captured from actor Xu Zheng’s face correctly and effectively onto the alien, the production team could not rely on the American special effect team’s experiences, but Ning Hao’s own judgement in helping the American team to locate the correct sense.”

I suppose Xu Zheng, who’s in charge of capturing these actions has perhaps adopted the expressions of the Monkey King in the Adventures of the Heavenly Palace. Likewise, we are also unable to get the point in many foreign films, maybe globalization and the Internet would help us to make up for such shortcomings.