“复制者——刘庆元+亚状态”

复制者——刘庆元+亚状态
地点:广州市农林下路五号亿达大厦 — 2楼大堂及扉卖品 — 由电梯到12楼扉艺廊主展场
展期:2008年12月6日—2009年1月26日The Reproducer--- Liu Qingyuan + Yah Interactive Lab
at Saturday, Dec. 6th, 2008
at Fei Gallery, 2nd & 12th Floor, Estate Plaza,
No.5, Nong Lin Xia Road, Guangzhou
Exhibition Duration:Dec.6th ,2008 - Jan.26th , 2009


《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》展览包含着重新审视“复制”这一特征对艺术的作用和影响力的问题以及如何运用大众传播平台去强化艺术传播的问题。在这一过程中,艺术自身的价值并没有被损耗,相反其渗透力和与公众的沟通大大加强了。也许复制对艺术而言并不见得就是一个彻头彻尾的坏事情,因为很明显,在当代社会环境中,艺术家似乎已经没有必要通过将公众生活空间拱手让给大众文化的方式来表白自己的精英身份——换句直白的话——“艺术的复制”比“庸俗的复制”无疑要有价值的多,对于这一点,我们也许可以拭目以待。
The exhibition “Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan+ Sub-Condition” explores issues including re-examination of reproduction’s impact on art and how to apply mass media to reinforce the propagation of art. During this process, the value of art should not depreciate; instead its interaction and infiltration with the public would be strengthened. Perhaps reproduction is not an entirely bad thing for art. Obliviously, in the contemporary social environment, artists don’t have to throw away their right to public space with both hands to pop culture in order to defend their identity as social elites. In other words, “artistic reproduction” is far more valuable than “vulgar reproduction”. Whether this is true or not, perhaps we will see after the exhibition.

当艺术近距离遭遇大众文化
马永建

当代艺术与大众文化之间存在一种什么样的关系,是互相批判、冲突还是相互和解甚至是融合?这实际上是当代艺术发展过程中的一个无法回避的问题。因为自20世纪后半期当代艺术溢出传统意义上的“艺术”容器,向日常生活不断渗透的时候,这一问题就始终存在,因为在这种情况下,艺术会不可避免的近距离遭遇大众文化的存在空间。当二者遭遇时会发生何种效应?对于这一问题,有很多当代艺术家通过自己的作品提出了自己的看法。而展览《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》关注的也是这一问题——这一展览的思考体现在:艺术家能否运用大众文化平台和商业运作模式来制作作品和进行展示?艺术家应该如何运用这些形式?在这种形式的互动中,艺术家和大众之间的位置关系如何?以及在这种形式中,艺术作品的艺术价值是处于一种消耗状态还是增殖的状态?
众所周知,在当代社会中艺术与大众文化的相互渗透、混杂的现象已经明显加剧,造成这种现象的原因大致有这么几点:首先,大众文化是当代社会文化领域,特别是都市文化领域中一个不能回避的问题,不管艺术家是处于批判、反讽或者是不动声色的呈现当代社会生活的时候都涉及到运用大众文化形态的问题,只不过艺术家选择这些视觉资源的时候其出发点及立场与大众传媒和社会公众不同。然而,不论以何种“身份”——被挪用、批判或是反讽进入当代艺术空间中,大众文化都裹挟着自身的信息占据了其中的一定位置,也使当代艺术的面貌发生了变化。其次,当代艺术在溢出“艺术”容器的时候同时也溢出了美术馆这种展示形式,当艺术日益渗透到日常生活中的时候,传播能力强大的大众文化传播平台顺理成章的成为了艺术家选择的展示形式。有很多艺术家将这种展示方式作为对抗步步紧逼的、庸俗化的大众文化的一种手段,凸显其与大众文化所宣扬的不同的价值观与意识形态,这也导致了当代艺术向大众文化领域的渗透。再次,20世纪以来的艺术发展实际上也在潜移默化的塑造着公众,当以反叛为主要出发点,推崇实验与创新的现当代艺术成为艺术主流之后,文化艺术领域实验与创新的游戏规则也影响了社会公众对事物的判断标准,“创意无限”成为了大众文化领域流行的口头语和文化准则。再加上大众传媒的信息密集轰炸,使得“审美疲劳”的周期大大缩短,这就导致了流行文化的制造者迫于自身压力采取了有选择的过滤吸收较有活力的当代文化来刺激自身的想象力,不断自我更新以吸引公众眼球的策略,这一现象在今天已经逐步变得比较普遍。当然,这种吸收是比较表面化、视觉化以及带有时尚性特征的,但这也是促使当代艺术渗透的因素之一。最后,当代艺术并不能够完全割裂与商业社会之间的经济纽带,它也需要某种商业的形式维持自身的存在,它和大众文化的差别也许正如苏珊•桑塔格指出的是“独特物品和批量产品”之间的一种区别。
毫无疑问,当代艺术与大众文化互相渗透混杂已经成为了当代文化领域的重要现象之一,但是说将二者合而为一还为时过早,它们之间的关系更像是缠绕在一起的电线——二者都处于当代社会的背景中,互相联系但又有各自的路径。在这一过程中,艺术家的精英身份并没有因此而丧失,因为他们凭借其思想性和观念艺术的形式占据了文化领域的制高点,与运用工业化模式建立起来的文化工业、大众文化针锋相对。而在一个大批量技术性复制的时代,严肃艺术家的作品无疑具有特殊的价值,因为它具有个人性格特征和独特的思想性,这是大众文化不能比拟的。另外,当代艺术向大众文化领域的渗透与拓展无疑大大增强了其可传播性。但是上述文化混杂现象也提示我们关注这样一个问题:判断艺术作品的艺术价值以及社会价值不能够从表面形式上加以判断,而要看形式背后的意识形态特征。
《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》这一展览也触及到与大众文化关系的问题,这一展览引人注目之处在于它是三方合作的结果:艺术家刘庆元以此展览作为展示自己作品的平台,而北京亚状态工作室提供了艺术设计、多媒体与网络技术方面的支援,扉艺廊在提供展示空间的同时,也成立了概念店“扉卖品”长期出售印有刘庆元作品的各种物件和小的生活用品。这个展览的特色就在于对现代复制与传播技术的运用以及多方合作、交流、互动。它对当代文化的认识所体现的切入角度是如何运用现代复制技术以及“批量复制”的问题,即在大众文化泛滥背景下“艺术图像”的复制与传播的可能性。众所周知,20世纪,尤其是20世纪后半期以来现代图像与影像复制技术、传播技术的发展导致了图像的批量复制与传播,这也是导致大众文化变得无孔不入的直接原因。面对这一情况,不同艺术家做出了不同的回应。这些态度概括起来大致有关注与呈现、拒斥、批判以及反击这几种。其中在关注与呈现这一点上比较有代表性的像安迪•沃霍尔运用“批量复制”这种形式将流行图像从其社会背景中抽离出来以呈现当代文化特征;还有一些艺术家选择采用装置、行为艺术等强调现场感的形式来拒斥当代社会由于图像过度复制而导致的艺术感消失的问题。当然也有一些艺术家选择大众文化传播平台去传播与大众文化相左的观念,以刺激公众的思考和想象力,这可以看作是艺术家对迅速发展的大众文化的一种反击,像《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》展览就属于后者。这一展览以艺术家的严肃创作为起点,借助现代复制技术、网络这一大众文化传播平台与印制在生活用品上的形象向大众文化领域传播具有个人思想特征,体现艺术家对社会进行思考的各种艺术图像。这可以视作是当代艺术图像向大众文化领域中的一种主动位移和渗透。它提示我们深入思考:运用现代复制和传播技术的“批量复制形式”是不是大众文化领域的专属权力?谁可以成为“复制者”?艺术家能否将自己置于复制者的位置上?
对于上述问题,我们还是要从艺术家刘庆元的作品入手加以观察。刘庆元一直以来所选择的创作媒介是与当代社会流行的视觉观感有一定历史距离的黑白木刻版画这种形式,围绕着其个人体验以及当代社会的各种社会现象和文化问题,特别是都市流行文化问题展开批判性的思考,并以图像的形式展现出来,这构成了他在都市文化背景下的个人鲜明艺术形象。而从《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》这一展览来看,作为生活在都市环境中的青年艺术家,刘庆元选择木刻这一形式是有其深层考虑的。因为从木刻版画自身附带的历史信息来看,它与其它绘画媒介不同,它本身就具有强调复制和传播的特征。木刻版画在历史上曾经深深的嵌入中国社会公众的日常生活中,在机械复制时代来临之前曾经满足了社会对于图像的多种要求。从总体上来看,木刻版画偏属于大众文化形式,但是它本身也具有精英艺术的历史因素,特别是创作木刻这种形式,比如20世纪上半期德国表现主义艺术家的木刻以及中国左翼木刻运动中的木刻作品都具有精英艺术的特征。而刘庆元在他的工作中强调的实际上是木刻与中国本土文化的渊源,它复制与传播的特性以及其精英艺术的一面。当然,不可否认,最近几十年来由于社会环境的变化、可供选择的艺术表现媒介的增多以及艺术多元化状态的来临,黑白木刻这一形式已经逐渐淡出了公众的视野,但是这种距离感反倒赋予了艺术家一种权力,即在与社会保持一段距离的情况下审视当代社会的各种问题,阐释个人体验。同时,这种距离感也在一定程度上使刘庆元的艺术图像与流行文化的图像加以区别,从而保持了其自身独特的艺术特征和个人思想标记。这种时空距离使得历史上的“复制”形式与当代社会中的批量复制形式重新交汇,凸显出艺术家对当代文化的独特领悟——利用网络平台这一形式展示木刻作品无疑使得艺术家与观众的交流更具开放性,而将作品印制在各种生活物品上也使得艺术家的作品可以向生活的每一个角落中散布——这也符合中国现代历史片断中黑白木刻走上街头,进入公众视野,促使公众进行思考的特征。这是在都市文化背景中重新阐释“艺术的复制”这一问题的一种尝试和转换。而且可以肯定的是,这些被复制的图像出现在日常生活中的时候,必然会发出与大众文化不同的声响。
总之,《复制者:刘庆元+亚状态》展览包含着重新审视“复制”这一特征对艺术的作用和影响力的问题以及如何运用大众传播平台去强化艺术传播的问题。在这一过程中,艺术自身的价值并没有被损耗,相反其渗透力和与公众的沟通大大加强了。也许复制对艺术而言并不见得就是一个彻头彻尾的坏事情,因为很明显,在当代社会环境中,艺术家似乎已经没有必要通过将公众生活空间拱手让给大众文化的方式来表白自己的精英身份——换句直白的话——“艺术的复制”比“庸俗的复制”无疑要有价值的多,对于这一点,我们也许可以拭目以待。


Modern Art’s Close Encounter with Pop Culture

What is the relationship between art and pop culture? Do they criticize and contradict with each other?Or do they reconcile and even merge with each other? In fact, this is an unavoidable issue during the development course of contemporary art. It has arisen since the latter half of 20th century when modern art grew out of the art “container” in traditional sense and gradually made its way into daily life. In this circumstance, art inevitably enters close encounter with the living space of pop culture. What has been brought about when the encounter occurred? Through their works, many contemporary artists express their views on this issue. This is also what the exhibition “Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan + Sub-Condition” is concerned with, which provokes thinking over the following questions: should artists produce and exhibit their works via the platform of pop culture and in a commercial way? How could artists utilize such mediums? What are the positions of and relationship between artists and the public during such interaction? Will the value of artwork be consumed or appreciate in such process?
It is common knowledge and rather obvious that contemporary art and pop culture have been influencing and mixing up with each other with ever stronger momentum. Generally speaking, such phenomenon is caused by the following factors: first of all, pop culture is an unavoidable existence in the field of the contemporary social culture, especially in urban culture. Elements of pop culture are always employed by artists who attempt to present the modern social life in a critical, ironical or neutral way. But their standpoint and intention of choosing the visual resources are different from that of the mass media and the public. However, no matter what “identity” the pop culture assume when entering the modern artistic space -- being the objective of presentation, critique or ridicule, the information carried by it takes a significant position in modern art, which also leads to the change of modern art. Secondly, as modern art grew out of the art “container”, it also went beyond museum exhibition; when art gradually became part of people’s daily life, the powerful propagation platform for pop culture also became a natural choice for artists to exhibit their works. Many artists used such exhibition medium to confront the aggressive and vulgarized pop culture by highlighting contradicting values and ideology, which resulted in the infiltration of modern art into pop culture. Thirdly, the development of art has actually helped shape the public in an imperceptible way ever since the 20th century. Starting from “rebellion” and encouraging experiments and innovations, contemporary art has become the main stream. Meanwhile experiments in the cultural and artistic fields as well as rules of innovation games also influenced the public’s values. “Infinite Creativity” has become a prevailing slogan and cultural criterion in the pop culture. The information explosion ignited by mass media helps shorten the cycle of aesthetic weariness. As a result, producers of pop culture, pressured by the short demand cycle, opt to selectively absorb elements from the relatively vigorous contemporary art to stimulate their imagination and continuously renew their products in order to draw audience’s attention. Today the phenomenon has become universal. Of course, such absorption tends to be superficial, visualized and with fashionable features. Nevertheless, it has contributed to the promotion of modern art. Finally, modern art cannot just cut its economic link with commercial society and it needs to be commercialized in one way or the other in order to survive. Its difference from pop culture can be compared to the distinction between “unique products” and “batch products”, just as Suzan Sontag pointed out.
It is out of question that the mutual infiltration and mixing up of modern art and pop culture has become one of the most significant phenomena in the contemporary cultural fields. But it is still too early to say the two have merged into one. The relationship between them can be compared to two electrical wires intertwined with each other against the common backdrop of contemporary society. They are connected with each other while have respective paths of development. During the process, artists do not lose their identity as social elites. With their ideological content and artistic concept, they occupied the peak of cultural field and contend with culture industry and pop culture, which are built up in an industrialized model. In an era of mass reproduction by machines, works by serious artists are undoubtedly of special value, because it is endowed with the artist’s unique character and philosophy with which pop culture cannot compare. Moreover, it is no doubt that the infiltration and expansion of modern art into the field of pop culture has enhanced its popularity. However, such fusion poses another issue that we should be concerned with: the artistic and social value of artistic works should not be judged by its superficial form, but by the ideological features hidden behind.
“Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan+ Sub-Condition” also touches the relationship with pop culture. The biggest attraction of the exhibition is that it comes from the joint effort of three parties: artist Liu Qingyuan use it as platform to exhibit his works; “Sub-Condition Studio” from Beijing offers their help in respect of artistic design, multimedia and network technology; Fei Gallery provides the exhibition space and establishes a concept shop “Fei Boutique” to sell a variety of daily articles printed with Liu Qingyuan’s works on a long-term basis. The exhibition features the application of modern reproduction and propagation technologies, multilateral cooperation, communication and interaction. It helps us understand contemporary culture from a new angle: how the application of modern reproduction technology and “mass reproduction” make it possible to reproduce and spread “artistic image” against the background of overflowing pop culture. It is common knowledge that the development of modern image, image reproduction and propagation technology in the 20th century, especially the latter half of 20th century, has led to the mass reproduction of images and wide spread of replicated images. It is also the direct cause for pop culture to be seen everywhere. Artists have different responses to such phenomenon. Some are concerned and attempt to present it. Some reject and abstain from it. Some criticize it and some counterattack. Among the first group, Andy Warhol is their representative, who extracted popular images from the social background and adapted “mass reproduction” to present the characteristic of contemporary culture. The second group adopts ways like installation and behavioral art to emphasize scene feeling and to show their spurn at the over-reproduction of images that caused loss of artistic feeling. The third group use the mass media to spread philosophies contradicting pop culture so as to stimulate the thinking and imagination of the public, which can be taken as artists’ counterattack to the fast growing pop culture. The exhibition “Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan+ Sub-Condition” belongs to the third. The exhibition begins with the artist’s serious work. Then, aided by the platform of pop culture propagation (i.e., modern reproduction technology and network) and images printed on the daily articles, the artist intends to promote various artistic images in the pop cultural field, which reflects his individual mentality and thoughts about the society. It can be regarded as an initiative displacement and infiltration between modern artistic images and popular cultural field. It inspires us to further explore the issue: Is it the privilege of popular cultural fields to apply the modern reproduction and transimmion technology? Who else could be the reproducer? Should the artist put himself in the position of a reproducer?
To answer the above question, a careful observation of Liu Qingyuan’s works is needed. Liu Qingyuan has chosen monochrome woodcut as a medium for his artistic creation, which, as a visual form that can be traced back in history, now stands a certain distance from the contemporary society. He succeeds in establishing a distinct individual artistic brand against urban pop culture background through a series of images that reflects his personal experiences, various modern social phenomena and cultural issues, and in particular his critical thoughts about the urban pop culture issues. The exhibition “Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan+ Sub-Condition” further indicates that, given Liu Qingyuan is a young artist living in the urban environment, his choice of woodcut must be the result of deep reflection. The historical information carried by woodcut distinguishes it from other kinds of mediums. Furthermore, since it features emphasis on reproduction and propagation by nature, there had been a time when woodcut played a great part in the daily life of Chinese masses and had fulfilled the demand for various social images in the society before the age of mechanical reproduction arrived. In general, woodcut belongs to the mass culture; while in certain periods of history, it also appeared as elite art, particularly those created for artistic purpose. For example, woodcut both by German expressionism artists and Chinese Left-wing Woodcut Movement shared the characteristics of elite art in the former half of 20th century. Liu Qingyuan emphasizes in his exhibition the connection between woodcut and Chinese native culture, woodcut’s reproduction and propagation features, and its elite side. It is a matter of fact that given the changing social environment, more and more mediums available for artistic expression have emerged and an age of pluralism in art has arrived. As a result monochrome woodcut as an artistic form as faded out from the perspective of the public. But this almost forgotten medium endows the artists with a right to examine various issues of modern society and to illustrate his personal experiences in a distance from the society. Meanwhile, such sense of distance to some degree helps distinguish Liu Qingyuan’s artistic images from pop cultural images and therefore retains the unique artistic feature of woodcut and signature of the artist’s individual mentality. The confluence of “reproduction” in history and mass reproduction in modern society shows the artists’ unique interpretation of contemporary art. By means of network platform, the communication between the artist and audiences is undoubtedly more open. Moreover, by printing on all kinds of daily articles, it helps spread his artworks to every corner of life, which is also similar to what happened in Chinese contemporary history when woodcut made its way into people’s daily life and stimulated people’s thinking. It is an attempt and a new way to interpret “art reproduction” against the urban cultural background. I’m sure that when these reproduced images appear in daily life, they will certainly speak in voices different from pop culture.
In a word, the exhibition “Reproducer: Liu Qingyuan+ Sub-Condition” explores issues including re-examination of reproduction’s impact on art and how to apply mass media to reinforce the propagation of art. During this process, the value of art should not depreciate; instead its interaction and infiltration with the public would be strengthened. Perhaps reproduction is not an entirely bad thing for art. Obliviously, in the contemporary social environment, artists don’t have to throw away their right to public space with both hands to pop culture in order to defend their identity as social elites. In other words, “artistic reproduction” is far more valuable than “vulgar reproduction”. Whether this is true or not, perhaps we will see after the exhibition.

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