那些高声宣称人类在思想和艺术创作方面将发生范式转换的论调，通常在甚嚣尘 上之后很快就又失去了生命力。新千年开始后不久，几乎已经无人再去提及“后现 代”这一概念，而在上世纪七十年代后期和八十年代，这个概念曾对西方世界产生 过巨大影响。十五到二十年就进入半衰期，这对理论界的能量流转起到的作用微 乎其微。
在人们还热衷于谈论后现代时，批评家们和文化哲学家们用这个概念表达出的是 他们内心深深的焦虑，这种焦虑来自于:新的电子和数字技术已经渗入生活中的 方方面面——而如果有什么东西被归入到和物质等同的类别中去，那就意味着它 已经无可救药了，在一个算法世界的零维空间里，一切都将无可挽回地终结在一 条死胡同里。在这种论调的攻势下，人们开始对所有具有身体性的东西进行抽象， 无一幸免。来自柏林的哲学家和人类学家迪特马尔·坎珀在 1989 年接受采访时， 曾以一种极端的方式回应了这种世界观:“目前，对我们而言，致命的不是癌症， 也不是艾滋病，而是我们将经历视听的死亡，将溺亡于图像的洪流中，而不是自 己去更多地经验生活、以自己的身体去获取感官体验。” 1 坎珀说这席话时，录像 机在中华人民共和国尚是一件非常昂贵的商品，一台录像机售价约两千五百元人 民币，这相当于当时中国人平均月收入的二十五倍，而在这四年前，一台录像机 的售价则是六千元(当时约合一千八百美元)。2
有这样一批艺术家，不管在面对用于制造图像和声音的新技术手段时，还是在与 文化悲观主义的世界观狭路相逢时，他们都不会感到手足无措，而缪晓春就是其 一。至少从十年前，缪晓春就开始接受挑战，将数字造就的零维空间作为一种通 向某种全新经验的必由之路:由数学排列的抽象性出发，却可以在和机器的联合 中获得崭新的具象——即使这些具象和我们之前的感官经验那么不同。面对那些 宣称理论的末日已经到来的人们，来自于布拉格这座炼金术士之城的犹太哲学家 威廉·弗卢塞尔曾十分尖锐地表达了这样一个并不温和的观点:数字图像有可能 是对奥斯威辛的一个回应。当上帝终于在纳粹的屠杀场中彻底死去之后，一种新 的想象力却有可能从计算机的抽象化中生长出来，而我们通过学习，或许还有可 能获得这种想象力。这一说法已经超越了后历史的思路，至少，它对“当下”的理 解让它涵盖了“从前”，它试图去迎接那些即将到来的东西，而不只是关注那些已 经存在之物。
但这又只能在对历史经验的回顾中实现。非考古学 3 的一项基本原则是说，先锋 派也不过是在充满创造性地(再次)征用历史。自几个世纪以来，人们在对历史 沉积物的发掘、研究和转换中，从不同视角书写了未来。缪晓春在他的作品三部 曲中与近代早期的欧洲艺术进行了对话，在他所选取的绘画作品中，这位中国艺 术家让我们明白了这一点:欧洲在十六世纪的勃发，是属于那个时代的一部分， 而那个时代当时正在为未来做准备。米开朗基罗、希罗尼穆斯·博斯和老卢卡斯·克 拉纳赫是那个时代勇敢的梦想家，而不是倒行逆施的投机者。从绘画上看，他们 又是欧洲现代性的探路者，而欧洲现代性身处自然科学的霸权地位之下，并受到 对可见物体进行研究的物理学的影响。4 而当缪晓春穿行于他们的作品之中时， 也就在未来面前打开了当下。
“小宇宙(Mikrokosmos)” 5 这一想法可能与“大宇宙(Makrokosmos)”有关。从 这两个概念的起源和发展来看，它们就像是一个硬币的正反两面，它们彼此密不 可分，因为这其中包含了一种相互关系。小宇宙事关整体构建，它超越了人类的 存在，去到了小人国的尘世。而大宇宙则是关于内部关系构建的概念，它在生 - 理和心理上造就了人类，并向宇宙深处无限延伸。
亚里士多德在其对物理学的思考中创造了“小宇宙”一词，他的老师柏拉图在《斐 莱布篇》中的思想曾给过他一些启发，而这两位伟大的古希腊哲学家的思想中实 际上包含了对毕达哥拉斯学派世界观的追忆。在欧洲艺术中，不管是和声音还是 图像有关，只要在创作艺术作品时涉及到了运算问题，都会与毕达哥拉斯产生匿 而不显的亲缘关系。作曲家泽纳基斯曾说，所有与计算机发生关联的艺术家本质 上都是毕达哥拉斯派信徒。
在毕达哥拉斯看来，数字是一种媒介，它传达了大与小之间的关系。世间的个体 和宇宙整体都受到上帝所创造的和谐关系的影响，各个组成部分之间被精心设计 好的相互关系是可以被计算出来的，它们在此处或是别处，以数学或者几何的方 式，将自己表达为已被定义好的距离。而在毕达哥拉斯的世界观中，最核心的部 分就是简单的美丽以及平凡的共鸣，在音乐理论中，这体现在以基本音程中的八 度、五度和四度为基础，使协和音和不协和音之间最复杂的关系也得以展开。
当缪晓春在《坐天观井》中对希罗尼穆斯·博斯创作于十六世纪早期的作品《俗 世乐园》进行改写时，他所处理的主题进入到了欧洲文化的深处，那是基督教时 代的中世纪晚期。修道院院长赫拉特·冯·兰茨贝格为了对修道院中的其他修女 进行道德教育，在 1170 至 1180 年间创作了一幅令人印象深刻的作品，作品的名 称是《俗世乐园》。画面中那些希望获得不朽生命的人以及基督的信徒，沿着一 架阶梯磕磕碰碰地在邪恶的下界和令人向往的美好天堂之间攀爬。在他们艰险地 向上移动时，黑暗的魔鬼企图用弓箭夺去他们的性命，而明亮的守护天使则全力 保护他们不致坠落。在赫拉特·冯·兰茨贝格的图画中，对人构成诱惑的那些罪 完全隐藏在日常生活中:财产、安逸和欲望，它们隐身于金币、城堡、供人休憩 的床和美丽的女子之中。一边是邪恶的龙之喉，一边是上帝以调解者的姿态向远 方张开的双手，天堂和地狱，身处这充满紧张矛盾的关系之中的，便是人的生活， 而且只是人的生活。
这也是希罗尼穆斯·博斯三联画中较大的中间那部分的内容。缪晓春并没有像赫 拉特·冯·兰茨贝格那样，按照严格的垂直顺序去表现俗世中形形色色的生存样式， 而是像博斯那样，将更多注意力放在了水平方向上。俗世生活如同世间众多高原 上狂乱的舞蹈，或者，更恰当地说:那是些具有欺骗性的、一派田园风光的火山， 而缪晓春又为它们分配了一个个生动的主题:由疾行的骑士发展而来的运输系统， 继而却在技术装置的帮助下，变成了咆哮不羁、失去控制的交通系统;还有自然 科学、建筑学、欲望、反复进行的特殊活动——战争、技术所带来的粗暴破坏。
由电脑模拟生成的一个个图像表现出的一派纵酒狂欢的华丽景象，仿佛来自天穹 和无尽的大宇宙。上帝创世故事中的“Fiat lux !(要有光!)”，在电脑中被毫无顾 忌地赋予了生气 ——而这也意味着“被赋予了灵魂”——夜空中闪耀的星星变身为 文字，拼写出艺术家本人的名字。电脑屏幕上首先出现了“Microcosm”这个标题的 字母，紧接着就有智慧树上的苹果掉落下来。亚当已经偷食过禁果，天堂就这样 一去不返，至少除了幻想之外别无他处可供再造天堂。这是我们在一开始就了然 于胸的事情。
我们无法描绘也无法描写上帝，耶和华只是上帝的名字。很明显，缪晓春这位艺 术家是在欧洲的创世纪神话的意义上对上帝进行演绎。在他本人的想象力、计算 机科学和一台麦金托什苹果电脑(而今苹果公司以那只被咬了一口的苹果作为无 处不在的图像及其品牌标志)的共同作用下，缪晓春重新创造了一个世界——至 少是在电脑屏幕上显示的图像中实现了这一点。在作品中，那只苹果很快就被大 批量生产，被克隆模仿，就如同缪晓春作品三部曲中的其他形象那样，处在持续 不断、无休无止地被克隆中，最终，哪个是原件已经无从分辨。然后，从智慧树 上的果实中，生出了与二元编码生成的命令之间的游戏。一台具有人工智能的机 器阅读着 0 和 1 之间的无尽组合，并将其作为命令抛向天空，这台机器接着又在 匿名观众雷鸣般的掌声中创造了一种被我们称作文明的东西。来自瓦格纳的强有 力的音符宣示了什么是妄自尊大、超人和融合一切艺术形式的艺术作品。缪晓春 在此果断地用讽刺打断了这一切:敲击键盘的嗒嗒声越来越大，“造物”在此处的 含义是编程和书写。
计算机对造物的急切以及敲击键盘的那个人变得越来越迷乱，起初天堂般的田园 风光被噩梦所取代，交通趋向瘫痪，弓箭升级为直升机、炸弹和火箭，连欲望都 变得让人打不起精神来，简而言之:俗世地狱逐渐成型。缪晓春在作品中还影射 了北美医学家们所进行的人类基因组计划，这部作品中的那具人体如沙拉中的黄 瓜那样被切成片状，以便人们可以完整地提取他所有的基因编码。为了抵偿人们 心中的缺憾感，音乐、舞蹈、游戏等娱乐形式被发明出来，又被程式化。在这场 视听马拉松的终点，那些由机器智能所创造的东西纷纷砸向试图挣扎逃跑的人， 这其中也包括画框中希罗尼穆斯·博斯的画作以及由显示器组成的一部动力机器， 后者貌似白南准所设计的早期机器人。媒体艺术也早就变成了在宇宙中飘游的太 空垃圾。
而这一影像视频的结尾却并不是失败了的技术理性所带来的世界末日景象。宇宙 中所有衍生之物，最终都将再次回归宇宙之蛋 6，赫尔墨斯神智学将宇宙之蛋视 作起源物质，它之后被分析分解和重新熔合，这也是炼金术所坚持的观点。在欧 洲以蛋作为象征物的起源物质，在中国传统中被称作“太极”。而数码产物则是对 炼金术中黄金配方的对应模拟。天堂作为人头脑中的想象物消失了，它与人脑的 爆炸同归于尽。这才是这一影像作品真正的结尾。回到起点的那些物质又可以生 出新的分解和组合，而对其进行拆分也是随时可能的。
在《坐天观井》中，缪晓春完成了一次了不起的声像组合。他在时长超过十五分 钟的作品中，用电脑演示了一段具有代表性的文明化进程的历史，并快速而生动 地展示了经过精心编排的数以亿计的图像元素。《坐天观井》是由一个个图像元
素组成的，它们被固定在模拟数字符号中，而它们的快速运动只有在一个大框架 中才有可能实现:这要求不断循环的时间和足够大的空间。类似形式我曾在 2009 年的上海东方明珠电视塔上见过，这座广播电视塔高达 468 米，位于上海的新商 业中心浦东。我坐在东方明珠里，看到在远东中国的这座迅速崛起的国际大都市 的夜空中，摩天大楼上那些面积高达几百平米的电子显示屏上闪耀着关于新兴商 品世界、服务业和艺术天堂的电子信息。
“对视频的热爱目前已经悄然进入人们的日常生活”，上海当地晚报《新民晚报》 在 1988 年初曾如是说，而这时距缪晓春创作《坐天观井》还有二十年。“在未来 的某日，再次看到一幅摄于今日的图片中的自己，那曾是一个梦。” 7
十年以来，缪晓春在位于北京的中央美术学院创造着一个虚拟世界，并教授这门 课程，而艺术批评家和艺术史家们却在虚拟世界中一直都感觉到自己的力不从心。 虽然他们已经花费好几个世纪的时间来学习如何探究数学与绘画或者雕塑之间的 相互关系，但他们对那些用数学算法做出来的突破传统的画面仍持极端怀疑态度。 已经站稳脚跟的艺术史总是试图将国际艺术界的新鲜事物巧妙地纳入自身当中， 其方式便是直接宣称:那些使用新的技术手段工作的艺术家实际上不会真的创造 出什么新东西，他们只是在做一些换汤不换药的事情。因此，可以从不同角度好 好观察某些画作，所谓“虚拟的现实”—— 都是多么可笑的想法!然后他们扫视着 藏于佛罗伦萨、罗马、巴黎和马德里的那些被严密保护着的、事关欧洲艺术自我 认同的画作，并说，早在五百年前，米开朗基罗·波纳罗蒂在创作梵蒂冈西斯廷 教堂天顶的大壁画时就已经思考过这些问题并给出了更加完美的范例，而且关键 是，它也更加美丽!美学反复被阐明的目标就是要完全浸淫其中，这是亚里士多 德就提出来的观点。
这首先是一个特殊知识阶层的自我标榜中所表现出的绝望姿态。事实上最迟从 20 世纪 90 年代初开始，较之实验性的艺术实践，艺术史和艺术批评就已经陷入了一 个尴尬境地，前者在它们仍在呼呼大睡时，就已如呼啸而过的列车那样，把后者 远远甩在了后头。艺术史和艺术批评在面对时代感极强的激浪派和行为艺术等艺 术实践时，深感自己力不从心，因为它们已经无法把这些现象硬塞进一个幻灯机 框中，以便将其作为一种二维空间的表面加以考量。它们刚在强调说，有时，我 们也要将摄像和摄影作为一种艺术手段加以尊重，那边已经出现了这样的图像: 从根本上说，它们在自身所属框架之外，无需借用外界的任何东西作为自己的所 指，甚至完全不需要借助旧有素材转而表现其他。它们需要的，只是显示屏、让 图像倏忽出现而又快速消失的投影仪以及扩音器。而艺术史和艺术批评却仍在纠 结于那些已经过时的想法，例如对“图像转向”或作为新主导学科出现的“图像科学” 进行吹捧，以为借助于它们就可以应付所有二维、三维和四维空间中的可见物， 并使自己在未来得到拯救。
艺术创作若借助于先进媒介手段，就会不可避免地进入到一个话语体系中去，8 其中得到关注的问题就包括各种艺术及对其进行的不同接受之间的关系问题—— 正如一部好的艺术电影都在展示电影本身并兼顾电影迄今为止的历史那样。一位中国艺术家，曾于二十世纪九十年代后期来到“文献展”城卡塞尔学习艺术，当他 以其三部曲作品对近代早期的欧洲绘画艺术做出回应时，他也就进入了这样一种 话语中，并以一位年轻知识分子的独立性对其进行了评论。这位艺术家出身于一 个从历史上来看比欧洲更早进入文明化历程的文化体系——比如说欧洲人号称自 己在文艺复兴时期发明了暗箱这一技术，通过它的帮助，我们可以将暴露在光线 中的外部世界的物体投射到黑暗的房间中去，但实际上，最迟在公元前四世纪， 墨家经典文献中就已经对此有过详尽记载。
在新千年第一个十年的中期，缪晓春开始创作其作品三部曲的开篇《虚拟最后审 判》。作品的名字就已充分展现艺术家的意图:他所构建的世界从历史维度来看， 至少涵盖了三个层面:这个世界显然与文艺复兴后期的伟大艺术、与一幅在整个 艺术史上都有着举足轻重地位的巨幅壁画存在着联系，即米开朗基罗穷尽了自己 的创作才能、花费了八年之久(1533-1541)才完成的《最后的审判》;这个世界 同时又完全被置于当下的世界观和技术手段下，并且以极清楚的姿态指示着某个 将要到来的时间，在那里，计算机是人们生活中自然而然的组成部分，与今天人 们对电的看法无异。
缪晓春对艺术史的态度彻底颠覆了这个令人厌倦的观点:旧的总是已经渗入到新 的当中。他使用了一种相反的观察方式，于是在旧的当中发现了一些新的东西。 他所进行的是一种带有预见性的考古学研究，当他穿行于“过去”时，他向今天的 我们展示了过去的世界曾是怎样的。
米开朗基罗以其对西斯廷教堂内部装饰所做的后期补充展示了文艺复兴时期绘画 和建筑艺术所达到的完美程度，这种完美在缪晓春这位中国艺术家的解读里同时 也是一个对主体认知的出发点，而这种认知是自十七世纪起，随着现代的开端和 自然科学统治地位的确立才开始发展起来的。第一眼看去，米开朗基罗作品中那 些密密麻麻排列在整个场景之中的众多形象只是经过精心处理的各种可能性的表 象。米开朗基罗将最后审判日阐释为仇恨和震怒之日，即震怒之日，这一日。充 斥于场景之内的这些形象都是绝望和堕落的，代表上帝权力的无情的车磔(也是 上帝在尘世的代表)并没有给这些形象什么新的自主性，而是把他们变成了亚 - 体， 就如 Sub-jekt 这个词本身所表达的那样:让他们屈于神下，让他们卑躬屈膝。勒 内·笛卡尔在此一百多年后将人视为上帝创造的自动机器，人在运作着并且在这 种运作中遭受着无边的苦难，这是由罪与罚组成的永无止境的循环往复，而过去 的 130 年里，梵蒂冈教廷就是在这幅壁画下的圣坛后面选举新教皇。
缪晓春用精确模拟出的自己的形象置换了米开朗基罗作品中的人物形象，这是一 种几何形式的、与客体无关的对人体器官感知的摹写，缪晓春以此将对文艺复兴 时期的典范的瓦解推向了极致。在克隆的世界内已经不再存在什么原型，在千篇 一律的面具后面，仅存的只是对某些持久不变的东西的模糊感觉，但这种东西却 失去了与自身之间的同一性。永远都是相同的，但从未是我自己，我们可以把 Calvin Klein 的广告策划在上世纪末为其香水所设计的存在主义广告词倒过来说， 这广告词当时是为凯特·摩斯这位艺术天堂中的公主量身制作的，而波德莱尔曾 将毒品的世界称作艺术天堂。有那么一段时间，在那之后主体才意识到从来没有 过“整体的”，并且认为，永远也不会再有“整体的”了。缪晓春的《最后审判》中
可以称之为原型的东西只有各个克隆出来的形象之间可能存在的某种关系，而艺 术家又是可以使用机器随意改变这种关系的。特殊性、出其不意性都被相对化， 变得灵活，变成了黑与白，变成了一种抽象的东西。由此，艺术家在完成《虚拟 最后审判》之后，又转向了同样色彩斑斓的《俗世乐园》，并最终在《青春泉》 中对自我进行了全面超越。
在这个过程中，传统意义上的主体开始遭到彻底瓦解，缪晓春在一种他将其称之 为未来的维度里安排着这一切。三维动画作品 “我们将往何处去?”是《虚拟最后 审判》这部综合了多种艺术手段的作品中不可缺少的有声部分，它是总结整个二 维无声部分作品的核心所在。大幅的数码影像，如同摄影作品那样，将时间的河 流冻结在其中，它们是对从完整的运动过程中选取的某些瞬间的抓拍，这对计算 机来说原本是一个悖论，因为计算机是一种绝顶完美的时间机器 : 在显示屏上被 展示的、正在发生的、振荡的，只是一些频率，是在时间中被生成的画面，当我 们关闭了显示屏，一切也就随之消失了。在电子的或者更多地在数码的动态影像 中，认为自己是当代艺术的艺术是自主的。作品中的形象在被接受时 , 就已经变 成了时间上并不永恒的存在，艺术家可以根据自己的意愿来决定它们的出现和消 失。它们之间那扩张到无限的空间被变成了(用机器制造出的)一种永恒，或如 古希腊人所说的，是一种“永世”(Aion)，或如荒诞剧作家阿尔弗雷德·雅里所 说的那样，是把上帝当作从零到无穷的最快捷的路。
虚拟世界并不是可以被称作“客观”的那种现实，它是由计算机生成的，也就变成 了一种用第一人称表达的经验，即它完全是一种主观的东西。为了能让我们并不 那么敏锐的感官得以穿行其中，我们需要借助于假肢——技术手段，正如基督教 需要天梯作为假肢那样，因为天梯使得人的灵魂从尘世升入天堂、天使作为上帝 的信使降到世间成为可能。缪晓春作品中那些飘浮在空中的形象早已失去了在尘 世的立足之处，在没有楼梯的广袤空间中，他们同样需要使用拐棍，他们还需要 梯子、作为传动装置重要部分的齿轮、船和捆绑在一起的箭——这些东西在欧洲 神话里既代表着毁灭的力量又代表着繁殖的能力，尤其在十九世界末新媒体手段 的繁荣时代，它们在那些对电的众多蕴含寓意的表现中都得到了重现。
从艺术史的角度来看，缪晓春于 2007 年用电脑生成的关于水的作品系列《H2O— 艺术史研究》是对老卢卡斯·克拉纳赫的《青春泉》的回顾，克拉纳赫的这部作 品中描绘的是这样一个场景:人们试图从俗世的身体这副皮囊中解脱，从而可以 进入到永恒的生命之中。
即使不将克拉纳赫的这幅画当作三联画来看，它从画面上来看也可以被分为三部 分:在画面左方，老妪们被送到浴池，她们一看就是上了年纪的，爱神和维纳斯 位于浴池中，并将具有返老还童之魔力的水泼洒到这些老妪身上;在画面右方， 原来的老妪变作青春美貌的女子，她们再次走出浴池，梳洗打扮，重着华服，以 待再次经历往日曾有过的所有欢乐时光。
位于画面中心的浴池或者泉水起到了完美的媒介作用，只有穿越被爱神的神奇力 量赋予魔力的神奇的液体，返老还童才变为可能。水在这里的作用，类似于启蒙 运动对媒介的讨论中电的作用:在物质性和湮灭物质性的边界处，电是可让物质 实现转换的力量，这是最重要的现象，也是推动生命起源的力量。肉体在电的作 用下可以变得不朽，萨德在启蒙运动达到巅峰的 1792 年出版的著名姐妹篇小说 (《朱斯蒂娜》和《朱莉埃特》)中的人物朱莉埃特，就不停地让自己在恶之浴 池和道德的极端堕落中被“电”到。
而最终，永葆青春在由控制论所构建的空间中变成了可能，因为这个空间不知道 什么叫做身体性，只要有电流存在，这一空间就可以在图像和时间中进行无限的 自我生产，并制造大量形象来对自我进行填充。在这里，我们甚至可以重建天堂， 就是希罗尼穆斯·博斯作品中所描绘的天堂。在由控制论所构建的空间里，末日 审判业已开始。
从艺术虚构的角度来看，《H2O ——艺术史研究》为缪晓春的作品三部曲做出了 一个与前期作品逻辑一致的结尾。这部作品绘制出了一个已经经历过所有媒介的 那个时代，电已经无法为人类提供什么新奇的功用，水才是对一切生命来说最珍 贵的原材料，但居住在地球上的这渺小的人类却在过去的几个世纪内都没有对此 给予足够的重视，并且将其变成了极稀缺的资源，而中华人民共和国目前就已经 深受其害。
缪晓春对近代早期欧洲艺术中的经典之作进行了颇有独立见解的改写和阐释，他 做得无畏无惧。缪晓春将我们自己的(艺术)历史赤裸裸地展示在我们面前，同 时又以游戏的姿态将我们自己的当下带入到了一种可能的未来之中，而这个未来 早已在过去中成型，缪晓春在做这一切时，是那么名正言顺，无所顾忌。只有一 位来自于中国这样具有深厚文化积淀并在这种文化意识的影响下进行创作的独特 的艺术家——尽管他的作品涉及到了欧洲文化——才能创造出这样的作品。
注释:1、“Das Auge–Zur Geschichte der audiovisuellen Technologie. Narziss, Echo, Anthropodizee, Theodizee.” Dietmar Kamper im Gespräch mit Bion Steinborn, Christine v. Eichel-Streiber, in: FILMFAUST, Heft 74, 1989, S. 31. ——原注
2、这组数据来自 Ling Chen 的研究成果，我曾于 1988 年委托柏林工业大学进行此项研究。作者的 数据来源是中国新华通讯社。——原注
4、原文是“In bildlicher Hinsicht gehörten sie zu den Wegbereitern der europäischen Moderne, die durch die Hegemonie der Naturwissenschaften und eine Physik des Sichtbaren geprägt wurde.” ——译注
6、原文是“das kosmische Ei”，在炼金术中，“蛋”是经常出现的象征符号，代表封闭的炼金容器或者 第一元素，并象征着自身包含着继续发展的可能性。——译注
7、引自 Ling Chen 的研究成果。1988 年 3 月，第 3 页。——原注
8、“回溯反思”一词的原文是“diskursiver Charakter”，这个词具有多义性，在福柯话语分析理论中是“话 语”的形容词形式，在哲学上另可指一个概念相对于另一个概念在方法上是先进的、也是承上启下的。 此处根据上下文暂译为“进入到一个话语体系中去”，或有更好的译法。——译注。
Discovering The New in The Old: The Early Modern Period as a Possible Window to the Future? On Miao Xiaochun’s Renaissance Trilogy the Last Judgment in Cyberspace / H2O / Microcosm
by Siegfried Zielinski 2010
Concepts that dramatically announce paradigmatic changes in thought and artistic creation are short-lived as a rule. At the start of the third millennium, hardly anybody still speaks of postmodernism, which as a concept had so shaped the 1970s and 1980s of the Western world. A half-life of fteen to twenty years is very little in the energy balance of the theory market.
When postmodernism was all the rage, critics and cultural philosophers were using this concept to react to the deep insecurity that they felt in face of the saturation of life conditions with new electronic and digital technologies. Whatever was classi ed as a later deposit as an identi cation with the material seemed impossible to rescue. It necessarily culminated in the dead-end of the zero dimension of algorithmic world construction. The consequence propagated was the complete dissolution of everything corporeal in abstraction, from which there was no escape. “The scourges of the present are not cancer, not AIDS,” as Berlin philosopher and anthropologist Dietmar Kamper summed up in an interview in 1989. “We are dying an audiovisual death, drowning in a ood of images without any longer having experienced lives ourselves, understanding sensuality with our own bodies.”1 At this point in time, a video recorder in the People’s Republic of China was a valuable commodity. It cost 25 times the average monthly income in the PRC, around 2,500 Yuan. Four years later, the price went up to 6,000 Yuan, or 1,800 USD, for a single video recorder. 2
Miao Xiaochun is an artist who is not left awestruck in the face of new technologies for the creation of images and sounds and in confrontation with cultural pessimism. For at least a decade, he has been taking up the challenge of understanding the zero dimension of number as a necessary passage to a possibly other quality of experience. From the abstraction of mathematical rows, in combination with machines new concretizations can be gained, even if they are not identical to those familiar from sensual perception. Vilém Flusser, a Jewish philosopher from Prague, the city of alchemists, responded in an extreme formulation to the apocalyptic horsemen of theory with the harsh formulation that the digital image could be understood as an answer to Auschwitz. After the nal death of God in the Nazi murder camps, it was possible for a new inventive power to grow from abstraction with the help of algorithmic machines, a power we still need to master. This goes beyond the concept of a post-histoire and contains at least in part the idea of the present as a prior period. It tries to react to what might still come, and not just to what has already been.
But this in turn is only possible by moving through the experience of history. A fundamental premise of an-archeology is that the avant-garde is nothing but the inventive (re) appropriation of the past. With the discovery, research, and transformation of whatever can be found in the deposits of historical processes, for centuries we have written the future from our respective standpoint. With the paintings that Miao Xiaochun has chosen for his trilogy to engage with European art of the
early modern period, the Chinese artist makes clear that the transformations in Europe of the sixteenth century were from a time that was preparing for what was to come. Michelangelo, Hieronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach (the Elder) were in their day courageous visionaries, not speculators turned toward the past. In visual terms, they were among the pioneers of a European modernity that were shaped by the hegemony of the natural sciences and a physics of the visible. A passage through their work allowed Miao Xiaochun to open the present for the future.
The idea of the microcosm is necessarily bound to the idea of the macrocosm. In its origin and in their development, the two ideas are like two sides of the same coin. They are inseparably linked to one another, for at issue here is a mutual interrelationship. The microcosm is the projection of the very large, that which surpasses human existence, onto the Lilliputian world in the sublunary realm. Conversely, the macrocosm is the projection of the inner relationships that constitute people bio- logically and psycho logically onto the endless expanse of the universe.
Aristotle developed the term microcosm in his thoughts on physics. He took the idea from his teacher Plato, who formulated it in the dialog Philebus. Both Greek masters were implicitly referring back to the worldview of the school of Pythagoras. He is the secret father gure of all those in Europe who generate art with algorithms, regardless of whether we are dealing with sounds or images. The composer Xenakis once said that all computer artists are basically Pythagoreans.
For Pythagoras, number was the medium through which the relationship between the small and the large was mediated. For him, both the individual on earth and totality in space were shaped by relationships of divine harmony. Well-proportioned relations are measurable between their single components; here as well as there they can be expressed in de nable distances, that is, in mathematics and geometry. The core of the Pythagorean worldview is lovely simplicity, the triviality of consonance, which in music theory based on the basic intervals octave, fifth, and fourth, from which the more complicated relations of consonance and dissonance are derived.
By working with the Garden of Delights by Hieronymus Bosch from the early sixteenth century, Miao Xiaochun reaches back into the depths of European culture, the Christian Middle Ages. The abbess Herrad von Landsberg created an impressive picture for the moral instruction of her fellow sisters around 1170/80. It bears the title Hortus Delicarum (The Garden of Delights). Those hoping for eternal life, the Christian adepts, move uneasily up a ladder between the evil below and the good above. In their dangerous and difficult ascent, they are on the one hand attacked by the deadly arrows of dark demons and on the other hand protected by guardian angels and kept from falling. Seductive evil in Herrad von Landsberg’s image simply appears in the guise of the everyday: property, comfort, and desire are illustrated with gold coins, a castle, a restful bed, and a beautiful woman. What dramatically takes place between heaven and earth, between the hellish maws of the dragon on the one hand and the stretched out hand of God as a mediator to the world beyond on the other, is nothing other than life itself.
This also de nes the large centerpiece in Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych. Miao Xiaochun staged the endless facets of earthly existence not in strict verticals like Herrad von Landsberg, but, like Bosch, predominantly in the horizontal, as an exuberant dance on different earthly plateaus, or better: deceptively idyllic volcanoes that form at the same time individual dynamic thematic fields; transportation that developed from fast horsemen and with the help of technical devices mutated to a roaring, no longer controllable traffic; the natural sciences, architecture, desire, and always in this special work, war, the presence of technology as dangerous destruction.
The splendid orgy of simulated images seems initially to be formed from the firmament, out of the endless macrocosm. The Fiat lux! (Let there be light!) of the Christian myth of creation is impudently animated--here meaning so much as “given a soul”--the stars on the nightly sky transform into letters spelling out the name of the artist. With these digital letters, rst the title Microcosm is formulated, and then the apple of the tree of knowledge. Adam has already bitten into the forbidden fruit: paradise is lost forever and cannot be recreated, at least not outside our imagination. This is clear from the very beginning.
God cannot be represented and cannot be written, only as JHWH (Yahweh), the name of God. Clearly, the artist Miao Xiaochun is playing God in the sense of the European myth of creation. With the help of his inventive power, computer science, and a Mac that uses the bitten apple as an omnipresent icon and trademark, he creates the world anew, at least in the image on the computer screen. The apple multiples immediately in mass production, is cloned in endless seeming duplications, like all the other gures in Miao Xioachun’s work trilogy. There are no longer any originals. From the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we have arrived at a game with the commands written in binary code. An anthropomorphic machine can read endless series of zeroes and ones, tossing them out one after the other as commands into the sky. The apparatus generates what we call civilization to the wild applause of an anonymous audience. Powerful Wagnerian sounds announce greatness, the superman, Gesamtkunstwerk. Miao Xiaochun immediately gives this an ironic turn. Increasingly, the rhythm of taps on a keyboard comes through acoustically. Creation here means programming and typing.
The creative drive of the computer and its sorcerer’s apprentice at the keyboard is increasingly running amok. What were once paradisiacal idylls are becoming nightmares, traffic collapses, bows and arrows mutate into helicopters, bombs, and rockets, desire is locked in fatal lethargy; in brief, an earthly hell develops. Referring to the Human Genome Project of US doctors, the human body is cut slice for slice like a salad cucumber so that it can be decoded entirely into its genetic code. Music, dance,
play: the media of entertainment are invented and formatted to compensate for the constant experience of lack. At the end of the audiovisual marathon, everything that technological intelligence has created is tossed onto the struggling individual, including the framed painting of Hieronymus Bosch and a kinetic structure of monitors that seems like an early robot by Nam June Paik. Media art too has long become part of the cosmic trash ying through space.
But the video does not end with this apocalyptic vision of a failed technical rationality. Everything that exists in extension is ultimately transformed back into the cosmic egg, the original material of Hermetics, before it was analytically segmented and mixed. This is a powerful image from the world of alchemy. The prima materia symbolized by the egg in Europe is called tai chi in the Chinese tradition. The digital has become the analog pendant to the alchemistic formula of gold. Paradise as an invention of the mind disappears, dissolves with its implosion. This is the actual conclusion of the video work. Material returned to the origin can undertake new divisions and mixtures: separation seems possible at anytime.
With his Microcosm, Miao Xiaochun has created a huge sound-image in time. Over 15 minutes long, this exemplary story of civilization develops from the machine and spits carefully out hundreds of millions of organized pixels. Microcosm exists in visual elements, as frozen moments in the form of analog and digital drawings. But the rapid movement can only finally develop as a large projection in an endless loop and in generous space. I saw the work in this format in 2009 in the huge belly of the Oriental Pearl Tower, the 468-meter high radio and television tower in Pudong, Shanghai’s new busy center. On the skyscrapers outside, electronic messages for new commodity worlds, services, and arti cial paradises of all kinds icker in the nocturnal sky over the powerfully frenetic metropolis in the far east of China.
“The everyday video fever is spreading unnoticeably in Shanghai”: these words appeared in Xinmin Wanbao, a Shanghai evening newspaper, at the start of 1988, twenty years before Miao Xiaochun’s Microcosm emerged. “It was a dream to see yourself in the future in a picture from today.” 3
Art critics and art historians have a hard time in light of simulated worlds like the one Miao Xiaochun creates and which he has been teaching for ten years at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. Although they have learned to think about the mutual relationship between mathematics and painting or sculpture, the shameless surfaces generated from algorithms are highly suspect to them. Established art history tried to appropriate these new phenomena in international art by way of a ruse. It simply claims that artists who work with advanced technological means of production are not creating anything really new, but something already notoriously familiar is only being given new clothes. Images in which the beholder can immerse him or herself from various perspectives, so-called virtual realities, what a laughable concept! This echoed from Florence, Rome, Paris, and Madrid, where the treasures of Europe’s cultural identity are carefully guarded. Michelangelo Buonarroti realized just that in the ceiling fresco of the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican ve hundred years ago, and much more perfectly, and most importantly, more beautifully! Total immersion has always been the declared goal of an aesthetics based in Aristotle.
But these are primarily despairing gestures of self-assertion made by a special intellectual caste. By the early 1990s, at the latest, art history and art criticism found themselves quite behind when it came to an experimental artistic practice that they slept through entirely and that raced past them like a speeding train. They already had signi cant difficulties when they were confronted with the time based art practices of Fluxus and performance, because these phenomena could not be slipped into a slide and analyzed as a two-dimensional surface. They were just barely able to recognize lm and photography as artistic media. Now images emerged that needed no reference in the world outside the frame, that do not even need a standard material to be able to express itself to others. Monitors, a eeting projection, loudspeakers would suffice. With antiquated thought prostheses like the propagation of an iconic turn or visual studies as a new master discipline that would be responsible for all that has become pictorially visible in two, three, or four dimensions, they tried to rescue themselves into the future.
Art that works with progressive media necessarily has a discursive character. It also deals with the understanding of the arts and their various perceptions. Just as every good artistic lm is always also a treatment on the cinema and tries to add something to its history. With his trilogy on the resplendence of European images from the early modern period, the Chinese artist, who in the second half of the 1990s studied art in the Documenta city of Kassel, walks right into this discourse and comments upon it with the con dence of a young intellectual who comes from a culture whose deposits of civilization reach much further back in history than those of Europe. A camera obscura, for example, with the help of which objects illuminated with light can be projected from the outside world into a dark chamber, and whose invention the European Renaissance still claims as its own, was described quite precisely in the text canon of the Mohists in the fourth century before Christ.
The Last Judgment in Cyberspace opens Miao Xiaochun’s trilogy in the middle of the rst decade of the third millennium of the Common Era. Already in the title, the artist reveals that his arti cial world is at least threefold in historical terms. It has the obvious reference to the high art of the late Renaissance, one of the most outstanding frescoes of art history, The Last Judgment, which Michelangelo worked on for eight years until utter exhaustion (1533–1541). At the same time, it operates quite within the worldview and technology of the present; and it points with a clear gesture towards a time still to come, when computers are as self-evidently part of our environment as electricity is today.
Miao Xiaochun’s attitude to art history stands for the radical reversal of the boring premise of the old always already contained in the new. He turns this perspective around, discovering the new in the old. He undertakes a form of prospective archaeology. In moving through the past, he shows us how the world someday might look.
The consummation of Renaissance painting and architecture that Michelangelo’s late addition to the staging of the dome of the Sistine Chapel represents becomes in the interpretation of the Chinese artist at the same time the starting point for a notion of the subject as it began to develop in the seventeenth century with the beginning of modernity and the hegemony of the natural sciences. The many gures that populate the scene are already in Michelangelo well-proportioned phenomena of the manifold only on first glance. The master interprets the day of the Last Judgment as one of vengeance and fury: Dies irae, dies illa. The figures that populate the scene are despairing and rejected. The merciless wheel of divine power (and its representatives on earth) did not allow these gures to become new sovereigns, but subjects in the direct sense of the word: subjected, subordinated. Rene Descartes formulated his concept of man as divine automaton around one hundred years later: they function and suffer monstrously in their functioning, an endless cycle of violation/sin and punishment. At the foot of the painting, behind the altar of the Vatican chapel, each new pope has been elected for the past 130 years.
By taking his own exact measurements and inserting a calculated image of his physiognomy in place of Michelangelo’s painting—a kind of geometrical physiogram—Miao Xiaochun has taken the dissolution of the Renaissance ideal to its radical extreme. In the world of clones, there are no longer any originals. Behind the masks of sameness there remains only a suspicion of something consistent that, however, can no longer be identical with itself. Always the same, but never myself, to reverse an advertising slogan from the past fin de siècle that the advertising experts of Calvin Klein had invented for the brand’s existentialism from the bottle—in a campaign featuring of all people Kate Moss, the princess of artificial paradises, as Charles Baudelaire called the world of drugs. The time after the subject has recognized that it was never was complete and assumes that it never will be whole. The only originary aspect of Miao Xiaochun’s Last Judgment is the possible relationship of the individual cloned characters to one another, a relation that the artist can randomly alter. The particular, the sensational has slipped to the relational, become flexible, black and white, an abstraction. From here, after the Last Judgment the artist will push forward to the equally colorful Garden of Delights, and finally rejuvenate himself in the Fountain of Youth.
The classical subject begins to dissolve entirely in this process: Miao Xiaochun stages this in a dimension that he refers to as that of the future. “Where will I go?” is the essential video component of his Last Judgment in Cyberspace that sums up the silent work. The large format computer prints (C-prints) freeze time, like photography.
They are momentary shots, gained from a complex movement. This is paradoxical for the computer, because it is a time machine par excellence. Everything that is seen on the monitor takes place in the moment of beholding, oscillates: it is frequency, a processed image in time. When the computer is turned off, the phenomenon disappears. In electronic and even more so in digital video, an art that sees itself as a temporal art is at one with itself. The figures become temporary existences in perception as well. The space expanded into the endless between them becomes a mechanically generated eternity Aion, as the Greeks said, or GOD as the fastest way from zero to in nity, as the paraphysician and eccentricdramatist Alfred Jarry put it.
Cyberspace is not a reality that can be called objective. Created by algorithms, after its transformation into the sensually perceptible it is an experience in the rst person, that is, of an entirely subjective nature. To be able to move within it using our dull senses, we need crutches, technical aids. Just as for example Christian religion needed the heavenly ladder as prosthesis to provide an image of the ascent of the human soul to the heavenly and the descent of the angels as messengers of God. The oating gures of Miao Xiaochun have long since lost the floor beneath their feet. They too used prostheses in continuous space, the ladder, the cog as a master artifact of mechanics, the boat, the bundled arrows that in European mythology stand both for the power of destruction as well as the capacity for insemination and can be found in countless allegoric representations of electricity, especially in the founding age of the newest media, the late nineteenth century.
The reference in art history for the 2007 series of computer-simulated visual sequences on water—H2O—is Lucas Cranach (the Elder)’s painting The Fountain of Youth from the mid-16th century. Forever young: the scene represented here tells of the longing to dispose of the cumbersome physical shell of one’s own existence and to be able to immerse oneself in eternal life.
The image of Cranach’s painting is divided into three parts, without taking on the form of a triptych. In the left part of the image, decidedly old women are being carted to a bathing pool. The basin is occupied by Amor and Venus, who lend the water the transmuting power of rejuvenation. On the right hand side, the gures emerge from the bath as young women. They enter a time in which they are newly clothed and adorned for the pleasurable sensations that they now can experience once again.
The pool or fountain with the water in the middle ful lls the function of a medium par excellence. Transformation is only possible by passing through the uid element as prepared by the gods of love. Water takes on a function similar to that held by electricity in the media discourse of the Enlightenment. At the limit of materiality and its dissolution of the same, it embodies the power of transformation. It is the central phenomenon and original life elixir. Once electrified, bodies can become immortal,
quite in the sense that Juliette emerged at the zenith of the Enlightenment in de Sade’s famous double novel from 1792 (Justine et Juliette)—constantly electrified by immersing herself in evil and moral depravity.
In cybernetic space, there can be constant youth, because this space knows no physicality. It can constantly be created anew in image and time and animated with figures, so long as the current flows. Here, paradise can reemerge as painted by Hieronymus Bosch. In cybernetic space, the Last Judgment has already taken place.
But in the artistic ction, H2O represents the logical conclusion of Miao Xiaochun’s trilogy. It envisions a time after the media. The electrical no longer provides any sensations for the living. Water is the most valuable raw material of all that is Bios [βιοσ]. The earthly Lilliputians have disregarded it across the centuries, allowing it to become an extreme scarcity. The People’s Republic of China today is already starting to suffer from this.
Miao Xiaochun’s idiosyncratic adaptations and interpretations of masterworks of European art from the early modern period are shameless in a direct sense. With no shame, he parades our own art history before us and at the same time opens our own present in a playful manner for a possible future of (art) history that might have already been its past. Only an artistic personality that comes from a culture rooted so deep in time like that of China and—despite all the references to the European—one that also works with this awareness can achieve something of this kind.
1. “Das Auge: Zur Geschichte der audiovisuellen Technologie. Narziss, Echo, Anthropodizee, Theodizee.” Dietmar Kamper im Gespräch mit Bion Steinborn, Christine v. Eichel-Streiber, in: Filmfaust 74 (1989), 31.2. According to a study by Ling Chen, which I commissioned in 1988 at Technische Universität Berlin. The author based his estimate on information from Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.
3. Quoted from Ling Chen’s study, March 1988, 3.
2015 年 1-2 月
绘画自摄影术发明之后被一次次地判处死刑，却是永远没有实施过的死刑，而且 似乎转为了无期徒刑。它的死期遥遥无期，甚至一次又一次地成功越狱。帮助它 成功越狱的恰恰是那些似乎可以取代它的媒介的无限泛滥。
新型图像的获取、制作和消费模式，恰恰凸显了绘画原有的稀有和珍贵，甚至凸 显了那批并不出类拔萃、深刻动人的绘画作品。新型媒介越庞大越泛滥，就更凸 显出原有媒介的稀有。物以稀为贵的原则，便获得了最好的注解。
绘画在卸下精确描绘和叙述的重任之后，似乎再也没有重拾起来过。相对于我的 录像作品来说，我也没想在绘画里表达太多的东西，绘画似乎就只是绘画。我们 可以把精力集中在形状、线条和色彩上面，乐此不疲。而且只有在有意味地运用 体积、线条和色彩这些基础上的绘画的表达才是有意义的绘画的表达，否则真的 不需要绘画，可供我们选择的方式很多。
想想几百年前，那是没有照片、电影、电视、互联网的时代。面对绘画，人们有耐心、 时间和兴趣读出绘画中很多有意思的故事和情节，思绪与情怀。我们今天无需去 做这样的解读，也无意去做这样的解读，甚至做这样的解读会被看做对绘画的贬 低。绘画在变得纯粹的同时也变得干枯;被提纯，但同时也不再鲜活。
也许对绘画的欣赏越来越依赖于有过绘画经验，或依赖于对艺术史的熟知。但经 过绘画训练和了解艺术史的观众毕竟是少数，所以绘画不会那么火爆，也不需要 那么火爆。它不紧不慢，不温不火地生存着，不死也不活，那已经是最好不过了。 有哪个艺术媒介能保证一定就能活如此长久呢?而长久存在的本身就是产生一些 杰作的基本保证吧!
偶尔有一次，我对软件中的色彩通道很感兴趣，它是为了便于区分各个模型而赋 予它们不同的颜色。它们五彩斑斓，狂野异常，很有野兽派的味道，一如马蒂斯 的剪纸，但又复杂得多、精确得多，还有前后关系。这精确又狂野的形状和色彩 很让我着迷，所以我真的画了一系列这样的画，借助刻字机和刻字纸的帮助，津 津有味地把电脑在一刹那间计算出来的色彩在画布上一块一块平涂出来，姑且称 之为“电脑野兽派”。
2010 年画的第一幅作品是《堕落》，画面中的每一个人、每一块石头，都只是不 同的色彩而已，是电脑软件在制作过程中，为区分不同物体而采用的标记方式。 也就只是一个外表，但我也只想描绘这个外表。
2011 年开始画《死亡胜利》，但与其说是死亡胜利，还不如说是色彩狂欢。密密 麻麻的骷髅和头盖骨幻化成五颜六色，令我目眩神迷，这是我做这张绘画的真正 动机，而布鲁盖尔原画中的死亡主题早已忘得一干二净。为了强调这一点，我还 在死亡胜利这个场景里面设置了三个人物—— 导演兼摄影师、录音师和场记。就
因为拍电影本身就只是一个制造的过程。一开始画的是一张暖色调的《死亡胜利》， 接着我把原来的暖色调反向了一下，变成了一个冷色调，又画了一遍。我无所谓 它是一个重复的主题，重复的画面，我只想画那些颜色。这是两张 3 米 x 4 米的油画。 两年之后，我对这个画面又有了一种新的感觉，于是又把它画成了由 64 张 1 米 x 1 米的画面拼成的 8 米 x 8 米的巨幅丙烯绘画。慢慢地涂抹着那些灿烂的颜色，慢 慢地手臂画到发麻，抬不起来，要断掉，也慢慢地形成了对死亡的理解。死亡总 是会要来临，与其恐惧、逃避，还不如坦然接受，并把它变得无比绚丽，这样还 多少有点价值。
从 2010 年开始，我一直在想怎么样利用矢量线，因为矢量线是这种绘画的基础。 矢量线可以通过刻字机刻到刻字纸上，又可以通过刻字纸转移到画布上去。用矢 量线可以界定形体的边界、色彩的边界和明暗的边界，从而形成不同类型风格的 绘画。它可以形成一个很硬朗的形体边缘线，颜色甚至会有一定的厚度，高出一 点点，也可以非常方便地在这个区域里面平涂。所以从 2010 年到现在 2015 年， 一直都是在看看怎样通过矢量线来做一些东西。最初用矢量线画了一批布面素描， 后来命名为 “绝对素描”。像《轮回》这张素描，当初渲出矢量线的时候，我就很 着迷，那种密密麻麻的晶格线条，在我用软件计算出来之前是很难想象出来的。 我们曾经描绘过眼睛看到的东西，或者经过大脑过滤后的形象，也画过想象出的 形象。而现在我画的是电脑思考的形象，而我无论如何也不会用这种方式来思考。 所以《绝对素描》系列几乎就是对电脑思考能力的顶礼膜拜。
《公敌》最初画成了一张 4 米 x 4 米的油画，我和三四个助手一起画了很长时间， 大概画了四五个月，也曾在 2013 年威尼斯双年展中国馆里展出。当时用一台投影 仪照亮，投影仪严格限定了照亮画面的范围，所以有很多观众会觉得它也是一个 视频，只不过好象图像没有动，因为在这个区域内我展出的都是视频作品，它旁 边是《灰飞烟灭》和《无中生有》，对面是《无始无终》。用投影仪而不是用普 通灯照亮，就不会影响旁边和对面的录像作品。之后这件作品被昊美术馆收藏了， 但我在想是不是会有一种更简洁的方法来画。
所以从威尼斯回来以后，我又尝试着把画面分成亮部跟暗部，重新提出矢量线来， 这时的矢量线它就只是跟亮部和暗部有关系，这样我首先画上一个整体的暗部， 再用亮部来提亮，这样的话，绘画的制作就要简练得多。我一个人独立创作就画 了一张 4 米 x 4 米的丙烯，这还不过瘾，我就索性再把它画成一张 8 米 x 8 米的丙 烯的像壁画一样的作品。2015 年我又为阿拉里奥画了一张 2 米 x 2 米的。因为矢 量线是可以无损地放大或缩小的，所以画面也是可随之放大和缩小。当同一个画 面画成大小不同的尺寸之后，这几张画初看类似，但实际还是不同的，虽然大的 构图是一样的，色彩关系是一样的，但是当一个平方厘米的面积变成了一个平方米的时候，原来是一笔就能结束的一个色块，就变成了无数笔才能结束的一个色 块，这时画面的感觉是不一样的。
有时我在想，这个类型的绘画都不知道怎样定义它。它是独幅的唯一的绘画吗? 还是类似于一个像版画的东西?或者更精确地说，它是绘画，但介于独幅绘画和 可复制的版画之间的一个东西?
它有一个数字的母版，就是矢量线，所以可以看成是某种意义上的版画，但它又 不是真正的传统意义上的版画，因为传统意义上的版画大小应该是一致的，而我 的画可大可小，更不是完全复制，每一笔都不一样。每件作品大小不一，绘画的 方式、绘画的过程也有很大差别，所以每张画又是一件唯一的作品，它介于唯一 和复数之间，或者是唯一的复数。
塞尚一生画了很多《圣维克多山》，每个时期画的《圣维克多山》都不一样，林 林总总都不下几十张。是同一个题材，但是每一张画的画法都不一样。我不知道 哪些观众能够体味出其中的细微差别，我自己最喜欢的是他 1885-1887 年画的《圣 维克多山》，藏在纽约大都会美术馆。塞尚是为了探索绘画本身的语言而在画《圣 维克多山》，只有真正对绘画语言、而且要对塞尚独有的绘画语言有所理解，才 能欣赏他的《圣维克多山》。因为他画的根本就不是山，只是颜色、体积和线条。 运用某种方式做某件事情，能出现相同的或者相类似的结果，说明这能形成一种 方法，一种可控制的过程和可以预见的结果。
所以从 2013 年开始，我把 2011, 2012 年画的那些画重新又画了一遍，因为我觉得 那些画还有一些可以挖掘的东西。画着画着就会出现一些令人惊喜的东西，这时 就会有点兴奋，在反反复复的涂抹之后，等待的就是这一刻的出现。它很难在一 出手时就出现，也很难预计会在某个过程中一定出现，但它在不经意中出现了， 唯一要做的就是留住它，不然它会稍纵即逝，或很轻易我会视而不见，因为我脑 子里有的是俗见和成见。
当下的美术馆巨大的空间尺度让架上绘画多少会有点尴尬的，这种尺度很适合于 壁画。但美术馆毕竟不是教堂或庙宇，而更多的像是舞台，是许许多多艺术家轮 番登场的演艺场。直接画在墙上，展览之后再刷白的做法多少有些可惜。做大型 喷绘，像墙纸一样贴满天贴满地，之后再处理掉的方式，方便但稍嫌廉价。用架 上绘画的方式画壁画，做起来比较吃力，但最大的安慰是运输方便、循环展览、 保存长久，于是我有几件作品就采取了这个方式。
2012 年秋天，我开始想把《轮回》那张画画成壁画一样大，24 个 2 米 x 2 米的画 拼成一张 8 米 x 12 米的画，画得死去活来，画到一半就停了下来。2015 年春天又 接着再画。
2014 年，不知又搭错了哪根筋，为白盒子的个展画了一张 8 米 x 8 米的《公敌》。 接着，又为上海阿拉里奥画廊的个展画了一张 8 米 x 8 米的《死亡胜利》。其实 上海的阿拉里奥画廊并不大，在阿拉里奥所有的空间中是最小的一个，甚至上下 层加起来也达不到 8 米，但我就想让作品充满整个房间，所以就每一层展半张画吧， 二层展上半张，一层展下半张。
有时我在想，我上辈子是画壁画的吗?是什么样的心理在作怪要把画画得很大才 满意呢?以前做摄影的时候就把照片做得像壁画那么大，是想让观众在里面找各 种各样的细节。绘画为什么要往大尺寸做呢?有一个比较明显的理由是:用我现 在的方式画画，似乎画大要比画小更容易控制!因为最重要的几个要素如构图、 形状和色彩在最初的电脑制作阶段就可以得到很好的控制，实际绘制阶段反倒可 以大笔挥挥，潇潇洒洒，反正出不了格的!
保存在博物馆里的古代绘画，它的价值是不需要通过价格来体现的。翻翻艺术史 就可以知道，价格从来没有那么准确地反映过一件绘画作品的价值。只有需要在 短时间内就实现价值的作品才需要不断地强调作品的价格。不断被强调的价格营 造了一种虚幻的假象，无知的人需要它，有谋的人也需要它，拥有的人更可以以 此来意淫，掩耳盗铃。
但要增加艺术作品的价值，艺术家即便使出浑身解数，付出所有的情感和精力以 至生命，他得到的依然只是可能而非必然，因为衡量价值的尺度永远只掌握在看 到它的观者的眼睛里和心灵中。这些人，也许男女，也许老少，也许富贵，也许 贫贱。在去除了所有的伪装和外衣之后，赤裸裸的心灵才有可能相遇，在此时和 此地，价格已毫无意义。
在毕加索的年代，也出现了一些新的媒介，比如像摄影和电影。毕加索也偶然地 用摄影来做一些试验性的作品，当然大部分的时间还是专注于绘画雕塑。令人 钦佩的是，他让绘画雕塑这些媒介达到的强度和高度不亚于任何一种用新的媒 介——摄影或是电影—— 做出来的东西，同样都成为不朽，这是他了不起的伟大 的地方。而且他在绘画雕塑中形成的某些原则，反过头来又影响了这些新的媒体， 像立体主义在摄影当中也有运用，比如他自己的拼贴摄影，比如霍克尼的拼贴摄 影。
用新的媒介确实可以带来很多新的东西，但是更关键的是它要达到一定的高度和 强度。同样的，用传统的媒介来做东西的话，它更需要达到一定的高度和强度。 这样，问题变得很简单很简单，因为每种媒介都会从新变为旧，只是有些需要几 万年，几千年，几百年，有些只需几十年，或几年。
1997 年我还在卡塞尔美术学院上学，在那年的文献展中，我看到了威廉·肯特里 奇的两部动画作品，很是感动。我惊讶于他用双手画出的炭笔素描是那样的粗犷、 生动，配上文艺复兴时期的音乐，吸引我看了一遍又一遍。想着以后我也会用动 画的方式做作品，但那时还不清楚会用何种方式和方法，但肯定不会用这种徒手 画的方式。
1999 年我回到中国，进入中央美术学院摄影工作室做教师，开始使用苹果电脑。 摄影也在此时快速地由胶片转入数码时代，电脑的介入与大型激光冲印机的使用 使得我有能力制作如壁画般的摄影作品，这让我痴迷了很长一段时间。
2004 年，我又对电脑三维软件感兴趣，客观上的原因也许是因为当时摄影专业增 设了媒体艺术方向，曾有一段时间用“摄影与数码媒体专业”这样一个称谓。我惊 讶于电脑三维软件的造型能力，它能极大地拓展我的可能性，双拳可以变四手了。 这时我严肃认真地考虑用它来做艺术媒介的可能。
第一次尝试是《恐》《继往开来》等大幅摄影作品。我尝试在其中加入用三维软 件制作的物体，如巨型的气泡，透明材质飞跃的人体，但这样的尝试只出现在两 三张作品中，之后就停止了。因为我意识到，在一个现实的环境中，嵌入一个人 工虚拟的物体总是有点怪异，所以我想把两者完全分开来，摄影就是摄影，虚拟 就是虚拟。这便有了一个完全用电脑三维软件创作的艺术作品《虚拟最后审判》。
2005 年，我在望京新城租了一个一百多平米的公寓，先是有一个助手，之后慢慢 有两三个助手天天跟我一起工作，用普通的家用电脑把米开朗基罗原来壁画中的 四百多个人物置换成我的三维模型。这个模型是当时在美院教书的一位年轻教师， 根据我的照片和石膏翻模手工建模完成的。他前前后后做了很长时间，在还没有 完全做完的情况下，我就拿来开始做作品了。当我有了新的想法时，实在有些迫 不及待。
三维制作的过程延续了一年左右，既漫长枯燥又激动人心。我们每天都在挑战那 些家用电脑的极限，现在我都奇怪用那么简陋的 786 电脑居然能制作这样规模的 场景。当然我是用了分区制作，逐步拼接的方法，如同我在摄影中所做的那样。 我制作了五个不同角度的视图， 加上一个七分多钟的动画，配音是在解放军艺术 学院的配音室完成的，请了北外的四个外教和留学生朗读我写的一段自问自答， 从晚上七点工作到凌晨，一气呵成。
做完之后，我激动地给很多人看，因为我突然有了四手的感觉，既借助了硬件软 件的帮助，还借助了助手之手的帮助。从美术史上可以了解到，远古时代先人可 能只是用双手沾了点颜色，在洞穴的墙壁上涂抹出人物或者动物的形象，之后每 个工具的诞生，都会给艺术带来某种新的可能。比如烧焦的木炭，又比如毛笔的 发明就会让精细的刻画成为可能。
利用三维软件，我可以创作出不算太大、但已经足够丰富的世界。在这个世界里， 我既感到了创作的伟大，又感到了人类能力的渺小，与宇宙间的万事万物相比， 人造的尤其是虚拟的世界实在是太微不足道了。即便如此，我营造的这个微观世 界也让我心动不已。通过复制同一个三维模型，我能获得成百上千个虚拟人物。 在不同的光影和环境下，他们似乎有了各不相同的表情。在音乐的衬托下，他们 甚至有了某种喜怒哀乐。他们可以接受指令，随叫随到，听从调遣，不用操心他 们的片酬和衣食住行、新闻八卦。他们永远都在。已经建成的场景，也都永远虚 拟地存在着，无需拆除。灯光可以随时增减，镜头可以随意推拉、旋转、俯冲， 不用设置任何摇臂、导轨，它们是虚拟的照相机和摄像机，镜头焦距也可以从超 广角至超长焦随意切换，不用考虑设备成本。影像的精细度也可以根据需要来渲 染。
《虚拟最后审判》的展出也带来意想不到的成功，这使得我有可能购置更好的硬 件、请到更好的助手帮我一起工作。这时，工作室也搬到了国风北京，在一个复 式的房间里上上下下摆满了电脑，我开始了《H2O》《坐天观井》等系列的创作。 从此以后，我的工作就离不开电脑与助手了。直到今天算起来已有十几年。电脑 的使用既让我兴奋激动又让我气喘吁吁。硬件软件在不断更新，数字文件越积越 多，不知道是我在驱动着电脑，还是电脑在驱动着我，像陀螺一样转个不停。除 非工作室因超负荷而跳闸，或者因为我身体不适而停摆，我似乎变得很有能力、 很有想象力，就像服用了违禁药物一般，让我有了超常的发挥，而电脑和软件就 是我的兴奋剂。它似乎不该出现在从来就是手工制作一统天下的艺术创作中，但 我想，从此之后，它的使用会越来越呈现为一种常态。
从 2007 年开始，我对软件有可能对绘画产生的影响产生了浓厚的兴趣。先是在电 脑中模拟各种绘画的效果，如数码油画《新雅典学院》《帕纳苏斯山》等。模拟 水墨效果的《北京手卷》和《坐天观井》水墨系列。作品的效果看上去似乎是手 绘的，但它完全是在电脑中完成的，并没有在最后打印输出的作品上添加任何手 工的成分。
从 2010 年起引入刻字机，将矢量文件刻在刻字纸上，之后贴到画布上，作为绘画 的辅助方式。用这种方式，可以将造型的任务放在前期的三维造型中，而利用刻 字纸在画布上手工绘制。造型任务已被大大简化，绘画自有了某种独特的秩序感。 笔触轻松，物象的边缘犀利分明。
在使用电脑和软件时，我有一种与另一个头脑和另一双手合作的感觉。我在熟悉 它的运算方式，它在迎合我的思索想象。它能完成我的双手不能胜任的工作，同 时我双手的灵活多变也是它所不能企及的。当这两双手结合起来的时候，便变化 出了另外一种风格，这种风格让我深深着迷，而且我对它所具有的独特的力量深 信不疑。我愿意花所有的时间和精力让这种风格和力量渐渐地显露出来。
Miao Xiaochun: Artist Statement
Neither Dead Nor Alive
Painting has been sentenced to death again and again since the invention of photography. It has, however, never been put into effect and thus the sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, with death hanging over future horizons. Yet painting has managed to break out of prison over and over again thanks precisely to the overwhelming abundance of the precise media that seemed poised to completely displace painting.
The model of capturing, producing, and consuming new kinds of images highlight precisely the rarity and preciousness of paintings—even ones that don’t seem particularly remarkable or profound. The greater the flood of new media there is, the rarer older, original media becomes. That things are valued according to their scarcity has found its best example here.
Ever since painting abandoned the responsibility for precise depictions and narration, it seems not to have taken on anything else. In contrast to my video works, I try not to express too much in paintings. Paintings are just paintings, it seems. Only in paintings that meaningfully employ lines, forms, and colors could be considered meaningful expressions of painting. Otherwise we don’t really need painting since we have so many other options to choose from.
In centuries past when there was no photography, movie, TV and internet, people had the patience, time and interest to read stories, ideas and sentiments in paintings. Today, we don’t need such interpretations, nor do we want them. Doing so is even seen as deprecating paintings. In becoming pure, paintings have also become desiccated— rarified but no longer alive.
Perhaps the appreciation of painting will depend more and more on those with experience in painting or a good grasp of art history. In the end, viewers with training in painting and an understanding of art history will be a distinct minority. So painting will not be—and need not be—all the rage. Not rushed, not tepid, neither warm nor hot it survives, neither dead nor alive; that is really already the best case. Which artistic medium can guarantee with certainty such longevity? And its longevity is itself an assurance to produce a few masterpieces.
Once, I got very interested in color channels of a piece of software which distinguished the various models with a different color scheme. Riotously colorful, it felt Fauvist, like Matisse’s paper cuts but much more complex and precise, with a context to boot. The precise yet wild shapes and colors entranced me, so I painted a series of these paintings with the aid of cutting plotter and lettering paper. I thoroughly enjoyed painting out on the canvas the colors that had been calculated by the computer in a matter of seconds. I therefore called this “Computer Fauvism.”
The rst painting is 2010 was “Fall”. Each gure and every stone in the painting is merely a different color, a method to mark and distinguish different items in the computer software’s production process. Just an external appearance, in other words, but I just want to describe the appearance.
I started painting “The Triumph of Death” from 2011. Rather than the triumph of death, it is more a carnival of color. The dense skeletons and skulls, rendered into a variegated kaleidoscope of colors, dazzled my eyes—my real motive in making the painting, while the theme of death in Bruegel’s painting had long been swept out the window. In order to emphasize this point, I positioned three gures in the scene of “The Triumph of Death”: a director doubling as a photographer, sound guy, and log keeper. I wanted to turn the original scene into a fake, arti cial, and unreal scene, all the more diluting the original theme.
Shooting a lm actually is a process of manufacturing. At the beginning, I painted a version of “The Triumph of Death” with warm tones, and then I adjusted the colors towards a cooler palette and painted it again. I didn’t care if it was a repetitive theme or painting, I just wanted to paint those colors. They are two 3 m x 4 m paintings. Two years later, I had a new feeling about this image, so I drew 64 pieces of 1 m x 1 m paintings to make up a large acrylic painting 8 by 8 meters. I slowly smeared the bright colors, slowly my arms felt numb, as though I couldn’t lift them up again, as though they would drop off, and then slowly I formed an understanding about death. Death inevitably comes. Instead of fearing and escaping from it, better then to accept it calmly, turning it into something of unparalleled magni cence—at least there would be some value then.
Since 2010, I’ve been thinking about how to use vector lines, since they are the basis of such paintings. Vector lines can be engraved with a cutting plotter on stencilling and then transferred onto the canvas. Vector lines can be used to de ne the boundaries of figures, colors and the line between bright and dark patches, thereby forming paintings of different types and styles. It can form very sharp contour lines around the gures, with a certain thickness in the pigment so that it stands out from the canvas, which also makes it very easy to ll in these patches. So from 2010 to 2015, I’ve been exploring about how to paint with vector lines. Initially, I drew a number of sketches on canvas named “Absolute Drawing” with vector lines. I was very fascinated when I rendered the vector lines of “Samsara”. It’s very difficult to imagine those dense lattice lines before the computer software calculated them. We drew something we saw, someone we imaged or the gures we designed but what I’m drawing now is the result of computer thinking—which I will never think in the same way. This series is the worshipful prostration in the face of computer’s ability to think.
“Public Enemy” was originally drawn into a 4 m x 4 m oil painting. I painted with several assistants for a long time; it probably took me four or five months. It was exhibited at the China Pavilion in the 2013 Venice Biennale. At that time, the painting was lit up with a projector that strictly limited the scope of illumination so that a lot of viewers thought it was a video. But the picture is frozen. All the other works (next to is the “Disillusion” and the “Out of Nothing” ; the opposite is the “Limitless”) I displayed in this area were video works—maybe another reason for it being misconstrued. Using a projector instead of ordinary light to illuminate served to avoid affecting the video works around it. After the exhibition, this work was collected by How Art Museum, but now I am still thinking if there is a more concise way to show.
Thus, back from Venice, I tried to divide the picture into two parts—bright and dark, and reintroduce the vector lines which accordingly are just related to bright and dark parts. I painted the dark part rst, and then painted the bright parts to brighten the whole painting. In this case, the painting production became so easy and concise that I can even draw an acrylic painting (4 m x 4 m) all by myself. What’s more, I simply drewitatasizeof8mx8m,likeamural.In2015,Ialsodrewa2mx2mpainting for Arario Gallery. Since the vector line can be enlarged or reduced non-destructively, I can zoom in and out on the painting with it. When the same pictures drawn at different sizes, they are similar at first glance, but actually they are quite different. In spite of the same overall layout and the relationship of color, when one square centimeter area turns into one square meter area, the original one, where each needed a single brush to ll the color before, we now needs more brushes to fill. Therefore, the feelings in the painting will be changed.
Sometimes, I think it’s hard to de ne this type of painting. Is it a unique painting? Or is it something similar like prints which can be copied? Or, more precisely, is this a painting that exists somewhere between paintings and prints?
It has a digital master, which means there are vector lines, so in some sense it can be identi ed as printmaking. But in a conventional sense, it is not real printmaking, because in the traditional sense, the size of the prints should be consistent while my paintings are variable and cannot but be variable, let alone complete copies. Each brush of my painting is different. The way and process of painting also differs with the size of each work. Hence, each painting is a unique one, and yet between a unique and the plural—or it is the unique plural.
In all Cezanne’s life, he painted lots of “Mont Sainte-Victoire”, and at different times, these paintings differed from each other. Under the same subject, however, the painting skills shifted clearly in each works. I don’t know which careful viewers
can observe those subtle differences. My favorite “Mont Sainte-Victoire” is the one which was created in 1885–1887, now in a permanent collection at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The reason why Cezanne kept painting “Mont Sainte- Victoire” was to explore the language of painting itself, thus only those who truly know about the language of painting, especially Cezanne’s unique language, can enjoy his “Mont Sainte-Victoire”, which painted anything but mountains and actually just made the best of the color, size and lines. If doing something in a certain way, the same or similar results always come out, this might indicate a formation of a new method, a controllable process and a predictable result.
Therefore, from the beginning of 2013, I have been redrawing those paintings which were rst made in 2011 or 2012, because I believe that there will be something new to be further explored. Some amazing things nally appeared. I was so excited at that moment, because all I want to see is nothing but the new findings; for that, I drew over and over again. This process takes time and is also hard to be predicted. It also happens in a casual way. The only thing needed to be done is to try to keep it, or it can be easily ignored and eeting because of my current prejudice.
Nowadays, the huge spatial scale of art museums is suitable for murals but it awkward for painting. However, art museum isn’t a church or temple but mostly like a performance stage for lots of artists. As we all know, it is a bit of a pity that those murals would be white-washed after the exhibition (since the murals are painted directly on the wall). We can also make large-scale inkjet and paste them everywhere like wallpaper, which is convenient but slightly cheap. Although it’s more laborious when I use the method of easel paintings to paint murals, the most important consolation for this method is that it is easy to transport, could be exhibited several times and saved for a long time. So I tried this method on some of my paintings.
In the fall of 2012, I wanted to draw a painting “Samsara” as large as a mural, at 8×12m. I divided it into 24 paintings that are 2×2m but this is really a big project so I stopped half-way through the painting and only went along in the spring of 2015.
In 2014, I painted a 8×8m version of “Public Enemy” for the solo exhibition at Whitebox. Then I painted “The Triumph of Death,” of the same size, for the solo exhibition at Arario Gallery Shanghai. The space of Arario Gallery Shanghai is not too big—the smallest among of the Arario exhibition spaces. So I want to make my painting ll up the room because the height is less than 8 meters, even adding the two oors, so that the upper half was on the second oor and the lower half on the rst oor.
Sometimes I wonder if I might have been a mural painter in the previous life; if not, why won’t I be satis ed until I draw a large painting? In the past, when I took a photograph, I always tended to make the pictures as big as murals so that the viewers could see all the details clearly. The obvious reason why I love making huge paintings is that it is determined by my current mode of composition. Speci cally, this is more easily controlled in large paintings than small ones. For example, in the initial computer stage, those vital factors such as composition, formation and color can be under some kind of control control. Due to the early regulation, in the painting stage, artists can let their creativity go wild without any concern.
Value and Price
The ancient paintings preserved in museums do not need to reflect their value through the price. Looking through art history, the price never exactly reflects the value of a painting. Only a work that needs its value realized within a short time needs to emphasize its price repeatedly. However, the price which was stressed again and again builds up a kind of illusion: ignorant people need it, wise people need it, and the owners of the works deceive themselves and fantasize through it.
In order to raise the value of an artwork, the artists try their best and put in all their emotions, energy, and even their lives. However, what they nally get is just possibility not certainty, because the measure of value is in the viewers’ eyes and minds. Viewers—whatever their gender, whatever their age or wealth, once the camou age is off—will nally be encountered directly with their naked hearts. At that moment, price is meaningless.
Picasso’s New Media
In the age of Picasso, some kind of new media appeared; for instance, photography and movie. Picasso accidentally utilized photography to create some experimental works, while he focused on paintings and sculptures most of the time. What made other feel admirable is that he made these media, painting and sculpture, reach a height as good as the works made from any kind of new media, photography or movie. Additionally, they all became immortal works, and that is why he is great. Meanwhile, the principles which he summarized during the process of painting and sculpture came back to in uence these new media, such as the application of Cubism in photography. Examples include his collage photos, or Hockey’s collage photos.
The usage of the new media can produce lots of new things, but the key is to make use of it in order to reach a certain height and intensity. To create work through traditional media, a certain height and intensity needs to be attained. In this way, problems can become easy, because every kind of media will become an old one from new. In some media, it will take tens of thousands of years, thousands years or hundreds years, while to some others, it might only need several decades or a few years.
Artist’s Hand augmented with Computer
In the 1997 Documenta in Kassel, as a student of Kassel Academy of Fine Arts, I was deeply moved by the two animated works of William Kentridge. The rough and vivid charcoal sketches really shocked me. Accompanied by music from the Renaissance, I couldn’t take my eyes off the works. After the Documenta, I was pondering the way I could create animations. At that time, I was still unsure which ways and means I would use, but certainly not freehand.
I went back to my country in 1999 and worked as a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts studio; meanwhile I began working with Apple computers. It was then that photography quickly shifted from lm to digital. The intervention of computers and the use of large-scale laser printers enabled me to make photography like murals, which I was obsessed with for quite a long time.
In 2004, I became interested in 3D software, which was objectively attributed to the addition of a “Media Arts” direction in the photography major (once called “Photography and Digital Media” ). I was amazed at the modeling ability of the three- dimension software, since it can greatly expand my possibilities; I might even say that “fists have changed changed into four hands”. At this time, I seriously considered the possibility of using it as artistic medium.
The rst attempt was “Fear” , “Jump” and other large photographs. I tried to add in objects made by 3D software such as giant bubbles, transparent leaping human bodies, and so on. But after several works, I stopped, because I realized that in a realistic environment, embedding an arti cial virtual object is more or less weird, so I separated the two things completely. In other words, photography is photography, while the virtual is virtual. So with the use of 3D computer software only, the piece “Last Judgment in Cyberspace” was created.
In 2005, I rented an apartment of more than one hundred square meters in Wangjing New Town. At the very beginning, I had only one assistant; then two or three assistants came to work with me. We just used ordinary home computers to transfer more than four hundred characters of Michelangelo’s fresco to my 3D model, based on my photos and plaster models. The model was nished by a young teacher teaching at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He took a long time modeling back and forth, and in the case that the 3D-models were not completely finished, I already started to use them in my work because as soon as new ideas came, I couldn’t wait to try them out.
It took a year to nish the process of 3D modeling, which was long and dull but also exciting. Every day we challenged the limits of those home computers; even now I’m surprised that we were able to make such a scaled scenes with such simple 786 computers. Of course, I divided the scenes and spliced them one by one, as I did in photography. I have made ve different angles of view, plus a seven-minute animation.
Dubbing was completed at the dubbing room of PLA Art Institute; we had invited four foreign teachers and students from Beijing Foreign Studies University to read questions and answers I wrote. We worked from 7 pm onwards into the wee hours and accomplished the work at a stretch.
Once it was done, I was excited to show my work to a lot of people, because I suddenly had the feeling that I have four hands, not only with the aid of hardware and software, but also with the help of assistants’ hand. We can learn from the history of art:. ancient ancestors might just stick some color on with their hands and painted a gure or animal gures on the walls of the cave; after the birth of each tool, something new is brought to the art. One example was charcoal burning; another was the ne brush which made ne characterizations possible.
Using 3D software, I can create a world not too big but rich enough. In this world, I feel both the greatness of creation, but also felt the minuteness of human capability— compared to everything in the universe, the arti cial and especially the virtual world is too trivial. Even so, I feel excited and happy about this microscopic world I created. By copying the same 3D model, I can get hundreds of virtual characters. Under different lighting and environment, they seem to have had a different look. With the music backdrop, they even have some emotions. They can accept instruction, be available on demand, listen to commands, and not need to worry about their paycheck and basic necessities. They are always there. The scene has been built, but always exists virtually, with no need to be removed. Lighting can be added or removed, the lens can freely slide, rotate, dive, without the need of any rocker and rails; there are virtual cameras and video cameras, and the lens focal length can also freely switch from ultra-wide angle to super-telephoto, without regard to the cost of equipment. The fineness of the video can also be rendered according to the need.
The exhibition “The Last Judgment in Cyberspace” also brought about unexpected success, which made it possible for me to purchase better hardware and have better assistants help me out. At this time, the studio also moved to Guofeng Beijing, in a duplex room lled with computers up and down. And then I started making “H2O” , the “Microcosm” series. It has been ten years since then that my work has been inseparable from the computer and assistants. The use of the computer makes me feel both excited but tired. Hardware and software continually get updated, digital files pile up; I don’t know whether I'm in control of the computer, or if the computer is in control of me—it seems like a gyre spinning and spinning away. Unless the studio tripped up because of overwork, or because I’m sick and stopped working, I seem to be very capable and very imaginative—just like how taking drugs can make me have an extraordinary ability to play—and so computers and software are my stimulant. It seems that it should never happen in artistic creation always dominated by what is hand-made, yet I think its use will increasingly be presented as the norm.
Starting from 2007, I had a strong interest in the effect of software on traditional painting. First I simulated a variety of painting effects on the computer, such as digital oil paintings like “The New School of Athens” , “Parnassus” , and so on. The ink series “Beijing Handscroll” and “Microcosm” have the effect of simulated ink. The effect of these work appears to be hand-painted, but they were done entirely on the computer and did not add any ingredients by hand in the nal printout works.
The cutting plotter was introduced from 2010, engraving the vector les on lettering paper, then stuck to the canvas as an auxiliary means. In this way, you can put the modeling task in the early stage 3D modeling, and with the help of lettering paper you can draw by hand on the canvas. The modeling task has been greatly simplified; painting then has a unique sense of order. Relaxed strokes, clear and sharp images of the edge.
When using computer and software, I have a feeling that I’m cooperating with another mind and another hands. I understand its mode of operations, and it caters to my imagination. It can complete the work that my hands cannot, while at the same time my hands’ flexibility is what it cannot match. When combined with these two hands, they change out another style that fascinate me, and I deeply believe in its unique power. I am willing to spend all my time and effort to make this kind of style and strength gradually revealed.
用新的媒介做艺术作品，其表现形态与传统艺术媒介肯定是不同了。我想，新旧 媒介之间并非是你死我活、非此即彼的关系，也许可以有更深层意义上的传递与 继承。我可以用数码手段去回应艺术史上曾出现的一定形式，有些许相似之处， 但它骨子里又是截然不同的了。
比如，我一直想画水墨画，但一直未找到一种形式，现在找到了。利用数码水墨 的方式，我可以把极其精确的描绘和泼墨写意的手法结合在一个画面里。以前如 果要精细描绘，则必定会选择绢或熟宣纸，这不利于写意;如果选择写意画法， 则会选择生宣纸，这就意味着无法用细如蚕丝的线条来描写物体的轮廓，鱼与熊 掌不可得兼。现在则可以在两者之间游走，这是很令我兴奋不已的。
对线条的痴迷也许源自于中国传统绘画。虽然几乎所有民族的艺术都经历过用线 作为主要表达手段的阶段 , 但似乎中国的传统绘画更强调线的无与伦比的表现力， 因为它是如此简洁但又如此本质地表达出了世间万物。
自二零零五年以来的三年多的时间里，我天天面对电脑，看着用三维软件制作结 构线建起一个个三维模型并用这些模型构造一个三维虚拟世界 , 由点构成线，由 线构成面，再进而渲染成看似真实的物体。有一天我想，何不直接用这些结构线 来创作一件作品呢?这些结构线描述的是物体的外轮廓，非常本质，又极具形式 美。尤其让我兴奋的是，我可以将这些数据打印在宣纸上，获得一种类似传统线 描的美感，但又不是用传统的毛笔和墨，而是用现代的打印机和喷墨。
由于软件与电脑计算的方式所致，所有物体的轮廓线都会被表现出来，哪怕这些 轮廓线在背面，哪怕它被某个物体所掩蔽，这便使画面具有了某种透明立体的效 果:即使人物头像处于侧面位置，观众也一定能够同时看到两只眼睛，而不仅仅 只看到一只眼睛。这颇有点立体主义的味道，很能让人想起毕加索把两只眼睛画 在一个侧面画像上的理由，只不过在电脑和软件看来，这是再理所当然不过的事 情了，无需任何理由与主义，而是一种必需!
在我这儿，素描已经没有功能上的必要，而只有表现上的必须。既然面对自然世 界我们可以画出一张素描，那么面对虚拟世界，我们也可以画出一张素描，只不 过这个过程是逆推出来的。每张素描都带有电脑工作框，表明这是先在电脑中成 形，之后才画成素描，而不是先画素描，然后才成形。这使得我的素描与传统意 义上的素描截然相反，虽然它们在表面上使用了相同的工具—— 钢笔或铅笔。
用三维软件做作品时，首先面对的是网格线，由线来组成面。为了区别不同物体， 分别用不同的颜色显示。这些五颜六色、色彩斑斓的网格线天天在我眼前晃悠， 尤其当几种色彩的线条重重叠叠交织在一起的时候，它像极了刺绣。有一天我终 于下定决心，把它们用传统手工刺绣的方式固定下来。
我不知道电脑已在多大程度上取代了手工，但最起码，我在这些刺绣作品中用这 种方式使得电脑与手工紧密合作了一次。只是辛苦了刺绣女工，要把电脑生成的 网格线全部绣出来，那是非常耗费时间与精力的。
既然我的工作全都是用三维软件完成的，那就意味着只要寻找一个合适的输出手 段，它们就会从虚拟的三维形态变为真实的三维形态—— 也就是传统意义上的雕 塑，这就是立体打印技术。原本设计为工业建模之用，我想也完全可以用于艺术。
它的迷人之处我尚未全部发掘 , 但我知道这是绝对值得花力气去实验的。
Old and New Media
Miao Xiaochun 2008
The expressive form of works made by new media is certainly different from that of traditional media. I think the relation between traditional and new media is not necessarily that we have to choose one against another or to oppose the two, but rather that there could be some deeper sense of legacy and continuation. I can echo or re ect on a form in art history by digital means. Outwardly, there may be some similarities between the two, but inside they are worlds apart.
For instance, I have always been interested in Chinese ink painting, but I didn’t nd a way to work it out on the computer until now. With digital Chinese ink paintings, I can combine a meticulous portray and the carefree freehand splashes. Previously, delicate ink paintings demanded thin silk or xuan paper, which is not suitable for freehand splashes; splashes, on the other hand, require unprocessed xuan paper, on which you cannot outline contours with exquisite lines. You could not have your cake and eat it. Digital ink, however, now renders that possible, making me very excited.
What makes me even more exhilarated is that such possibilities can go on continually. It only requires energy, time and enough enthusiasm.
3D Digital Ink Painting
My obsession with the “line” is perhaps rooted in the high regard I hold for traditional Chinese painting. Nearly all national / collective art experiences from around the world have at some point gone through a stage where the line constitutes the dominant form of expression. With traditional Chinese painting, however, it seems that far more emphasis is placed on the incomparably expressive power of the line, because it is at the same time so concise and yet it can so eloquently express the essence of anything in its totality.
For the three years since 2005, I have sat in front of my computer every day, working with 3D software to build models and with all these models construct a 3D virtual world. Points are connected to form a line, then lines to make up a plane, and then the whole thing is re-rendered into a seemingly real object. Then one day I thought, “Why not use the lines directly to make an art work?” These lines depict the contours of an object’s fundamental shape and also reveal the beauty of form. I am particularly excited about printing these lines on xuan paper in order to simulate the beauty of traditional line drawing but achieving it with a modern inkjet printer and ink instead of using a traditional Chinese brush and ink.
3D drawings differ from traditional line drawings because the latter depict only the visible aspect as it seen from the viewer’s perspective. Anything that is obstructed from view or not directly in the viewer’s line of sight is not necessarily shown. Objects in 3D line drawings are, on the other hand, effectively transparent as the viewer can gaze through them to what is behind.
Because of the nature of the software and computer calculations in 3D drawing, all the contours of the objects are visible, regardless of whether they are at the back of an object or concealed behind other objects. This yields a transparent and three-
dimensional effect. Even with a face in pro le, viewers will be able to see both eyes rather than one. There is something Cubist here, reminiscent of Picasso’s paintings where a pair of eyes are set on the same side of a pro le portrait. But for computers and software, all this is just a matter of course. No particular reasons or “isms” but a pure necessity.
The sense of beauty in traditional line drawing, early twentieth-century Cubism, and the technical means of the 21st century clashing and bumping up against each other unexpectedly!
Originally, drawing is a study of natural form and structure. From this, improvisation and incomplete sketches will be discarded after the work is completed. Nowadays, however, we have come to realize that sketching can also be an independent form of expression.
In my work, sketches are only necessary in terms of expression instead of function. Now that we can make a sketch when faced with the natural world, we can do the same in the virtual world. The only difference is that it is a retroactive process in the latter case. Every sketch has a computer diaphragm around it which indicates the image is formed in the computer before being drawn, so that my drawing is opposite to the traditional sketches, despite of using the same tools—a pen or a pencil.
When 3D software is used to make a work, the first step is to form the surface by gridlines. Different colors distinguish various objects. With colorful gridlines changing before my eyes, especially when lines of different colors overlap one another, the image is so similar to embroidery. One day I made up my mind to x the variably colored gridlines in accordance with traditional forms of hand embroidery. Though I am not clear to what extent the computer has replaced handicraft, at least in the above way, my embroidery combines the computer with handicraft. The work consumes quite a lot of time and effort, because the female workers have to embroider all the gridlines generated by the computer.
The fact that all my works are done by 3D software means that, with the proper output, all virtual 3D forms can become real—sculpture in the traditional sense. This is 3D printing technology, which is often used in industrial modeling, which I think can completely serve the arts.
I have not discovered all the hidden charms of this idea completely just yet, but I am convinced that it absolutely deserves further experimentation.
Translated by Hao Yanjing