A Cooperation with Mr. Time
Early last year, the curator Liu Tian came to my studio. Once again, it was a messy room stacked with old works, a lot of old sketches and experiments. Perhaps he saw in it a hidden logic, how its visual fate could be strung together and shown as a set.
We are so immersed in media that we tend to get lost explaining what kind of change it can still bring. It’s like what Marshall McLuhan said about fsh in water knowing exactly nothing about water, not being able to describe its waves or its wetness.
When a seemingly replaceable world is turned into a plane, this opens up a discussion of “memory”. Photos will do everything they can to solidify reality, as if time were a withered plant that could be revived, resisting time’s passage. By cutting up photos we have a view on reality that replaces the act of twisting around on the ground. The materialised images, passing through the ticks of time, add “notes” to reality. These kinds of chance encounters help refresh our understanding.
I do not agree with the argument that “every part of the photo is from the same time”, even though a photo is taken in a “split-second.” We can still make out layers of time in the content by using new techniques, including image traces after a photo is fnished. Montage on a plane, coupled with a digital approach, is like using the different perspectives of “scattered” or “moving point” images to reveal the essense of your object.Since 1998 I often use dozens of photos to spell out a complete (realistic) image, and sometimes as many as 600 photos. In this type of work, I try to dismantle time, hiding hundreds of moments in one picture, as in a flashback in a narrative, stretching out a single plane of time. In fact, I still have a habit, in absolute respect for intuitive shooting, of putting the pictures away, and many years later, resuming the process. Years after an encounter, I ask if there is still the intuitive force of that “one time” or if after precipitation the body has to catch up with surprises of the spirit. I tend to believe that one should fght against time rather than cooperate with it.This is where the original idea of A Cooperation with Mr. Time comes from.
Faced with material change, we need to reflect on change as a concept, and that “change” has a spiritual signifcance in the process of materialisation. This kind of thinking keeps us vigilant to the world’s “vulnerability”, like the global warming happening by our sides .