橫越聲納與容積的隱秘之地

郭昭蘭

前言

對於一件強調身體現象學式投入的作品進行文字論述的書寫,作品的未完成(等到觀眾的身體投入)與製作中,使得這個書寫行動,首先就與當代藝術與展覽系統展開面對面的對峙:體感裝置的切身感V.S.作品計畫的概念性、展覽現場臨場感V.S.美術館白色方盒子傳統、策展人V.S.藝術家。當藝術家在工作室中實驗他的溫度元件時,本文冒著以語言試探作品的風險,預設了一個以文字邏輯補充現場身體感性的位置。

尋找系統的邊界

當代藝術越來越將藝術世界看作是社會符碼化的一個體現,即便當代藝術不免也面臨全球化系統的均質化(homogenous)威脅;作為文化實踐,這裡提供了一個雙重甚至多重論述可以相互交涉的場域。2014 關渡雙年展的「識別系統」似乎是直接面對這個命題,將它主題化,渴望從此尋求動能。

從這樣的角度來看,參展者張永達所提出的展覽計畫:《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》,似乎選擇回到對觀眾進行最為本能、直觀的訴求;在「身心二元論」的前面,寧取「身體感知」而非理智觀念的取徑。不過,在「識別系統」概念下,將個體感知的訴求歸屬於純粹的美學感性,其他涉及概念符碼運用的則收納於知性觀念的運作,這種簡化的二元分立,如今似乎亦不再令人滿意;畢竟,「在不確定的世界中,跟隨我們個人的本能似乎是在整個事物系統中確認我們自己的位置的少數方法之一。」 所以,將身體感知視為社會強制力的被動工具的想法也不能說是正確的。似乎只有意識到自由意志與決定論的斷然二分法之不足,觀眾才得以將他的身體知覺重新領回到美術館中,並從這個縫隙開始展開與美術館空間(不管是想像的或是物理的)新鮮的,並且是關於未來的獨特新關係。

矩陣與數位運算的可視化

極簡主義的時代,貝爾與艾文(Larry Bell and Robert Irwin )最常重覆的一句話是:「感知是非言傳的」(sensations are nonverbal) ,感知輸入才組成我們的現實感,而感知現實與語言敘述存在著根本上的差異。這裡顯然預設了感知的複雜與豐富性超越語言所能捕捉,視覺藝術家以他們的作品對觀眾進行純粹感知的訴求,合情合理的在當時被認為是最透明、不涉及概念的「純粹感知」。如此,感知與材質的探問概念,伴隨者極簡主義藝術的論述,成了70年代現代主義藝術論述的最前線。然而,2012年張永達在關渡美術館個展《看見/看不見》(Seen/Unseen)系列,試圖處理的已經超越材質的研究,而是感知如何與系統化後的資訊彼此抗衡、相互補充,卻又互相排斥。

《看見/看不見》(Seen/Unseen)中的《Matrix. 24 N°0》與《Matrix. 24 N° 1》
分別將311大地震24小時內的地震波形(Seism is Waveform)轉換成聲音波形,並以觸覺跟視覺的形式加以轉譯。當觀眾走進展間,彷彿就進入電腦運算系統的大後方──一個由數位矩陣構成的純粹數學世界──除了比例、運算的重演之外,沒有可供攀附的圖像閱讀;空間中持續的震動頻率,被方形的黑色金屬擴大,循著與數學抽象概念相反的「聲覺觸感」向觀眾襲來。這個黑色幾何的立方盒子空間,成了一個「同語反覆」(tautology)的空間。視覺上,它向數學抽象結構世界靠近,而概念上藝術家透過幾個不相干系統的並置與轉譯、破壞了個別系統的封閉性,才使得系統的孤立性與結構性變得可見、可感。透過身體感與量化數據間轉譯的不穩定與不對等狀態,系統的邊界在此呼之欲出。

我們似乎是如此生活在一個“Big Data”的資訊世界當中,量化與系統化乃是二十世紀科學賴以將世界常識化的方式,如今我們愈來愈遠離技術科學建構的本身,我們甚至對連數位運算之前的機械物理裝置過程,都近乎失去機械認識的機會,「懷舊」(nostalgia)成了我們回報給它的共同標籤。我們的生活已然就此全面地籠罩在由這巨大矩陣與運算,看不見的運算系統所「自主運籌帷幄」的世界裡,成為與“Big Data”休戚與共的存在。

藝術如果跟現實世界有關,其中數學在再現現實的傳統裡其實扮演了一些角色。文藝復興時期數學比例被認為是維持畫面平衡與黃金比例的重要途徑,也是維持圖像再現現實功能合理化的工具。但是在網路大量仰賴數位運算來處理資訊的當代,這個以龐大資料為基礎的運算,如何牽動人們對現實的感知,決定或不決定現實?如何操控?怎樣決定這個透過運算得出的認識途徑是否已經自行衍生出一種新的認識論?一種宇宙觀?它是可見的嗎?他如何改變認識對象的生成?認識論本身有可能是自我繁衍的嗎?張永達的《看見/看不見》系列,對此提出了深深的疑問。

美術館中的聲納與容積

從感知與系統的連動問題,到美術館中的聲納與容積,張永達的《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》將命題延伸到:美術館中如何以聲覺觸診這個世界。大衛˙杜樸(David Toop)曾說:「如果只能夠透過英代爾才能獲得音樂,那麼音樂存在於何處?或者說,如果音樂的創作既不涉及物理空間也無傳統的造聲工具,那麼音樂的誕生空間到底在那裡?」 張永達的《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》像是對杜樸的提問,一個擦邊球式的回應:空間、材質、溫度、汽化與能量轉換、空間容積中的數學比例是它的應答,美術館則是它的實驗場。19世紀以來,美術館便一直是一個以視覺為導向的場所,聲音的命題可以說一直到未來主義以後才擺脫過去以「題材」的方式,成為美術館展示訴求的感知。這可以從至今為止仍然盛行的耳機導覽機制看出來:作品的導覽總是以貼耳耳機的方式傳播,並被假定這樣的敘說不會過度干擾展場空間其他觀眾的觀賞環境。聲音,基本上被認為是不可見的。然而,聲音的穿透性與美術館空間所仰賴的視覺性傳統,在張永達的《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》作品裡彼此相遇了。

《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》把作品處理成一個開放狀態,藝術家並不是在這個美術館容積中放進一個雕塑,而是以一個樂器裝置把美術館空間與觀眾的身體感知,重新組織起來。《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》利用水滴降落到不同傾斜度的加熱金屬板所產生的不同速度水流及其汽化作用,在空間發出或長或短的聲響;藝術家放大了這裡物質轉換在聲響與空間容積中的比例與材質關係。

作品的聲響在空間中顯得具威脅而霸道,不僅因為聲響本質上的穿透性使得觀眾一靠近作品,耳膜即刻接受衝擊,也因為水滴降落在金屬溫熱板上的聲響帶有些微的強迫性;說它是帶有暴力的聲響一點也不為過。這個暴力的聲響,同時也將水滴的物質轉換過程戲劇化了──從液態到氣態──它帶領我門進一步與聲響相關的系譜連結,聽得見的聲音 / 尚未被聽見的聲音,與物質的聲音 / 尚未被聽見的萬物的聲音,其間微妙的聯繫正從此被喚醒。

不過,與其從音質的角度來切入這件作品,還不如把它看作是美術館中一個由現場性、材質、溫度、聲音觸感,所編造的容積聲納構造體。這個由聲音與容積交互構成的組織,不僅誘引觀眾對作品本身的知識進行探索,同時也試圖開拓對世界既有的認識。《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》藉此扭曲我們對週遭環境的慣性感知,試圖重新銳化身覺感知如何與聽覺感知在空間中交涉,提供觀眾進入聲納與容積所交錯出來的隱秘之地。

以聽覺重新觸診這個世界

張永達似乎是「做了一件讓人得以對世界多瞭解一些」的作品,利用造型物、用聲音、溫度、材質,這種種物理元素來訴說關於觀眾身處環境及其認識論之間的秘密;此秘密就像石井裕所說的──「雖然我們的身體活在一個物理的世界裡,我們的感官仍存在着深不可測的秘密」──是有待挖掘與試探的關係系統。面對這樣的作品,我們需要的是,親臨現場,與作品約會一次;如果有再現,這裡再現的是身體感知、物質關係與美術館容積的物理現實三者間的結構關聯(系統)以及其開放性。以引入空間物理元素的方式,《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》邀請觀眾以其身體與聽覺參與其中,藉此──借用海德格的話──以聽覺重新觸診這個世界(palpating the world with your ear)。如此,那些我們習以為常的感知邊界才得以重新洗牌。

如果沒有時時警覺、意識到系統對我們的塑造,尤其我們意識賴以回應的肉身; 哪怕是一點點的改動與調適,我們得以察覺辨識到這樣的差異,如何為我們所相信的真實帶來變動與改造的意義。在觀念主義冷峻的思維成規之下,《相對感度 N°1 [0°-N°]》以人為的不確定性空間,把美術館物理空間中的樂觀主義再度引入。從這樣的角度來說,這件冷峻而頗具威脅的聲納空間詩體,其實是最帶有溫度與熱情的吧。

Traversing the Hinterland between Sounding and Volumetric Composition

—Jau-Lan Guo

Introduction
When we are writing discourses about an artwork which emphasizes immersion in the sense of body-phenomenology, the unfinished state (waiting for the viewers’ corporal immersion) and the production process of this artwork inevitably bring the practice of writing into head-on confrontation with the system of contemporary art and exhibition. Such confrontation is reflected in the following aspects: the experience created by the somatosensory installations vs. the conceptuality of a certain type of art projects; the sense of immersion provided by the exhibition venue vs. the white-cube tradition of the art museum; and the curator vs. the artist. Whereas the artist experiments on the heated components in his atelier, I run the risk of speculating his artwork with words, assuming a position which complements the corporal sensibility on-site with linguistic logic.

Exploring the Boundaries among Systems
Contemporary art has a predisposition to regard the art world as the embodiment of social codification. Even contemporary art per se is inevitably confronted with the challenge of homogeneity posed by the system of globalization. As a cultural practice, the 2014 Kuandu Biennale creates a platform that facilitates the mutual reference among multiple discourses. The theme of this Biennale, namely the Recognition System, seems to directly address the challenge of globalization, and in turn searches for a momentum from such a practice.
From this perspective, the participating artist Yung-Ta Chang seems to make the most intuitive and direct appeal to the viewers through his work Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°]. Regardless of the dominance of “body-mind dualism,” the artist employs an approach based on the “somatosensory perception,” that is, his work appeals to the perceptions rather than the intellect. Previously, we always attributed the appeal for individual perceptions to pure aesthetic sensibility, and regarded the use of concepts and codes as part of noesis. However, such a simplistic dichotomy is no longer satisfactory in the sense of “recognition system,” as exemplified by the statement that “[i]n an uncertain world, following our individualistic instincts seems to be one of the few ways to confirm our positions.” Accordingly, it may not be proper to regard perceptions as the instruments passively used by the society to exert its coercive power. It seems that only by realizing the insufficiency of the dichotomy between free will and determinism can the viewers bring their perceptions back to the art museum, and thereby develop a novel and future-oriented relationship with the museum space.

Matrices and the Visualization of Algorithms
In the era of minimalism, the most commonly reiterated phrase by Larry Bell and Robert Irwin is “sensations [or perceptions] are nonverbal.” Our sense of reality is composed of the input of perceptions, and there is a world of difference between perceived realities and linguistic descriptions. It obviously assumes that language is unable to represent the complexity and richness of perceptions. Visual artists appealed to viewers’ perceptions with their artworks, which was reasonably and fairly considered as the most transparent and concept-uninvolved “pure perceptions.” As a result, perceptions, materials, and the discourse of Minimalism became the propositions that the discourse of Modern art in the 1970s sought to advance. Yung-Ta Chang’s solo exhibition “Seen/Unseen” held at the Kunadu Museum of Fine Arts in 2012 has taken one step further with material-related exploration, seeking to address how perceptions and systemized information contend with, complement, and exclude each other.
The Matrix. 24 N°0 and Matrix. 24 N°1 in the series of Seen/Unseen converted the seismic waveform collected during the 24 hours after the earthquake occurred on 11 March 2011 in Japan into audio waveform in terms of the tactile and visual senses. The exhibition room resembled the hinterland of computer systems—a pure mathematical world composed of digital matrices. There was no image on which the viewers’ imaginations could project except iterative algorithmic routine. The frequency of continuous vibration was amplified by the black cubic metal installed in this space, which overwhelmed the viewers with a “tactile sound perception” contrary to abstract mathematical concepts. The space of the black cube became a space of tautology. In terms of vision, it attempted to approximate an abstract mathematical structure. In order to make the systems’ closure and modality visible and sensible, the artist broke the closure of individual systems by juxtaposing and transforming several mutually unrelated systems. The boundaries among systems were consequently revealed in the unstable and asymmetrical state amidst the sense of corporeality and the conversion of quantified data.
We seem to live in a world of Big Data in this way. Quantification and systemization served as the crucial instruments for sciences in the twentieth century to create a common sense-based world. Nowadays, we are drifting apart from the essence of scientific and technological construction. We are even losing the grasp of the assembling processes of mechanical objects that existed prior to digital data processing. As a result, mechanical objects always evoke our feeling of nostalgia. We share weal and woe with the Big Data in the world dominated by huge matrices and invisible algorithmic systems that evolve independently towards greater complexity and uncertainty.
Mathematics apparently plays a significant role in the artistic tradition of representing the reality. In the paintings composed during the Renaissance, mathematical proportions were appropriated as not only an important method for maintaining compositional balance and the golden ratio but also a tool for legitimizing the image-based representation of the reality. However, we require algorithms to process the extensive data on the Internet nowadays. Therefore, Chang’s series of Seen/Unseen raised the following fundamental questions. How do the algorithms that process a huge amount of data alter the way we percept the reality? Does any hierarchy or power relation emerge therein? How can we confirm that the epistemological approach derived from algorithms has automatically become an outlandish epistemology or a bizarre world view? Is this epistemology visible? How does it affect the generation of its objects? Is the epistemology autopoietic?

The Sounding and Volumetric Composition in the Art Museum
Evolving from the coupling between perceptions and systems to the sounding and volumetric composition in the art museum, Chang’s Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°] addresses the following question: how can we palpate the world with the eye? David Toop also raised the following question. “Where does music exist if we can only acquire music via Intel? Stated in another way, where is exactly the space for music-making if the creation of music entails neither physical spaces nor traditional sound-making tools?” Chang’s Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°] transforms the art museum into a laboratory, and thereby offers an indirect reply to Toop’s question with sensible arrangements of spaces, materials, temperature, vaporization, energy conversion, and mathematical proportions. Since the nineteenth century, art museums have been vision-oriented places. It was not until the emergence of futurism that sounds were transformed from a “subject matter” of art into a perception that art museums used as an appeal for the visitors’ imaginations. This phenomenon is reflected in the prevalent mechanism of audio-guide in art museums. The content of the guide is disseminated with headphones, presuming that its sounds would not disturb the visitors in the museum. Conventionally, sounds are regarded as negligible or a matter of no consequence. Notwithstanding the conventional fashion, Chang’s Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°] integrates the penetrability of sounds with the art museum’s traditional emphasis on visual perception, clearly illustrating the influence of sounds on the viewers’ perceptions in the exhibition.
Chang deliberately puts this work in a dynamic state. Instead of installing a sculpture in the art museum, the artist reorganizes the space of the museum and the viewers’ perceptions with an instrument installation. This work produces different sounds of vaporization in the exhibition room by dropping water on several heated metal plates of different angles of inclination. In other words, the proportional and material relationships between sounds and volumetric composition are highlighted through the energy conversion carried out by the artist’s installations.
The sounds produces by the work is intimidating not only because the substantial penetrability of the sound waves strongly stimulate the eardrums of the viewers nearby, but also because the sound of water dropping on the heated metal plates is somewhat compelling. We can never exaggerate it too greatly as a violent sound. The violent sound also dramatizes the conversion of water from liquid state to gaseous state. It further connects us to the sound-related genealogy, revitalizing the subtle connections between heard sounds and unheard sounds as well as between material sounds and the unheard sounds of everything.
Rather than evaluating this work from the perspective of timbre, I treat it as a sounding and volumetric structure created by the artist with liveness, materials, temperature, and tactile sound perception in the art museum. Consisting of sounds and volumes, this structure not only arouses the viewers’ curiosity about the underlying principles of this work but also expands their horizons about the world. Through Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°], Chang intends to break our perceptional inertia concerning the environment and highlight the interaction between somatosensory perceptions and auditory perception. This approach takes the viewers into an uncharted territory mapped with sounding and volumetric composition.

Re-palpating the World with Your Ears
It seems that Chang created a work which “helps people know more about the world.” He made an ingenious use of several physical elements such as models, sounds, temperature, and materials to demystify the relationship between our environment and our epistemology. Just as Hiroshi Ishii claimed that “although our bodies exist in a physical world, our perceptions still have many unfathomable secrets,” the myth amidst our environment and our epistemology represents a relational system to be excavated and explored. To comprehend such an artwork, what we need to do is to go on a date with it in the museum. This work represents, if it indeed represents anything, the structural connections (system) among somatosensory perceptions, material properties, and museum spaces, as well as the openness of this system. In other words, this work involves the viewers’ somatosensory and auditory perceptions by introducing physical elements to the museum space. Re-palpating the world with our eyes (rephrased from Martin Heidegger’s words), we will be able to redraw the boundaries of perceptions that we have been taking for granted.
If we are not constantly vigilant about and aware of the influences that systems exert on us, particularly on the body in which our consciousness rests, our world would become a pool of stagnant water. To put it differently, we may assign new agency (momentum) of change to our world if we become aware of the changes (no matter how subtle they are) taking place when we traverse the hinterland between sounding and volumetric composition. To sum up, Relative Perceptions N°1 [0°-N°] opens up an artificial space of uncertainty within the solemn thinking of conceptualism, bringing optimism back to the museum space. From this perspective, this solemn and intimidating audio-spatial installation is actually a work which radiates the greatest warmth and passion.




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