Lost Child |道具给你,故事献给灵魂 @ArtBook

Lu Pingyuan creates stories. He has always been drawn to stories about artists, to cultural phenomena that have stories at their foundations,  and, especially, to stories that involve the overlap of art with occurrences of the weirdest and most wonderful kind. Lu Pingyuan sees creativity as a kind of magic power from the world of fantasy stories. And to him, the animated film Toy Story is the epitome of this fantasy world. When the little boy in Toy Story turns his back, all of his toys come to life and live out stories of their own. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of Toy Story, it is only natural that Lu Pingyuan would fix his gaze on this three-dimensional classic animated film in the making of his own solo exhibition, “Growing Pains” (which was the Chinese title, the English title being “HOME ALONe”): a mixed-media show that brings together a foundation of story and individual experience.

Stories are a time-honored means of evoking the realm of the spirit. Lu Pingyuan is unique among artists who use fiction in their creative practices because for him the story is not a method but rather the central element of his work. For Lu Pingyuan story is like a ritual prop; it exists purely for the sake of being the ceremonial object (the story itself). And the animation is one of the most important means of creating stories. In his discussion of “animism”—the soul nature of all things animate and inanimate—Anselm Franke begins with the example of cartoons; animation, now a form of cultural production to which we are accustomed in contemporary life, is, in fact, the benefactor of spiritual traditions. It confronts the question of how we when faced with a motionless expression, can give it life through a combination of human imagination and skill. Toy Story is unique not only in the way in which it ensouls two-dimensional images but also in the fact that it endows everyday, inanimate toys with life. These are the very preconditions on which the entire Toy Story series rests.

Look! I’m Picasso! comes from a line spoken by Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head, who at one point moves his nose and eyes to one side of his face and exclaims to another toy, “Look! I’m Picasso!” Though this moment in the film was likely just an off-hand joke,  it sparked a permanent association in Lu Pingyuan’s mind between Mr. Potato Head and Picasso. When Lu Pingyuan first saw a Picasso painting as a little kid, he was certain it had to have been made by a child. Now an adult artist himself, Lu Pingyuan sees Mr. Potato Head, a simple toy, as a work of cubist sculpture. It is in the space between these two inverted definitions of art that Lu Pingyuan has produced this series of works. As if playing a children’s game, he connects the dots between subtle differences of understanding with regard to art, story, and toys alike.

home alone

“Growing Pains” was an American television sitcom that hit a wave of popularity in mainland China between 1990 and 1994. Lu Pingyuan spent every summer vacation with this sitcom between the ages of six and ten. The model the show presence of a middle-class American family created a far-away imaginary for Lu Pingyuan and other children born in the eighties, who always lived somewhere in the comparison between “Growing Pains” life and the realities of life in China. Taking this comparative discrepancy as his starting point, Lu Pingyuan transforms it into art, borrowing images he first saw as a child on TV in his own video transmissions. There is an obvious relationship between this work and pop art, but unlike pop in its original context, Lu Pingyuan is not simply imitating the visual styles of pop culture, nor is he making any value judgments with regard to them. This shift arises out of the confusion the current landscape causes with regard to notions of subject and object. Nowadays, people are no longer able to distinguish—as people could at the end of the twentieth century—the difference between an advertisement and personal mythology. One might argue that we are now penetrated to the marrow of our bones by this cultural landscape, whether passively or actively. And it is precisely the process of mutual alienation between culture and personal reality that results in the autobiographical nature of Lu Pingyuan’s work. As he utilizes the landscape, the truth of him begins to appear: the television screen shining his own image back at him like a black mirror.

The landscape-fiction of culture is hard to avoid, perhaps, but we must remain aware of the forces that push it forward. In this series of creations, Lu Pingyuan buries the hidden clues in every corner, leaving them for the audience to unearth. The “Growing Pains” (“HOME ALONe”) room, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, is mostly dedicated to the little boy from Toy Story but is also where the “Monsters Inc” company recharges its electric energy. Mr. Potato Head claims to be Picasso, Thomas the Tank Engine seems to have a constantly fixed expression on his face, and Sid, the villain in Toy Story, has a rug in his room that looks like it came out of The Shining

In the face of all of these seemingly incidental interconnections, Lu Pingyuan not only plays the role of observer, collecting different cultural materials; he also and even more so plays the role of gamer. All of these movie quotes, classic expressions of cartoon characters, and pieces of global-warming-induced melting chocolate represent “the essential, inherent, indispensable” cultural components of the game. Lu Pingyuan is like one of Guy Debord’s “Lost Children.”[1] Debord wrote that “The ever-changing playing field of this new world and the freely chosen variations in the rules of the game will regenerate a diversity of local scenes that are independent without being insular.”[2]

And Lu Pingyuan’s particular game is using stories to interpret art.

 

[1] “Like lost children, we live our unfinished adventures.” (full quote, Guy Debord)

[2]  Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord. Thesis 178, 1967

 

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个展成长的烦恼或许是陆平原过去几年实践所沉淀出的转变——以故事作为展览基底,结合个体经验,并不可避免地对大文化对象进行指涉,将原本严格依靠文本性的故事,演化为混杂多媒介的故事场景。此次展览更像是献给艺术家自身这代人的故事,一个精心营造的当代灰色童话,夹杂着童年梦想与成长的弥合,以及随着这个过程不断接轨的个体心智发展;不仅如此,展览的细微之处也被其埋下伏笔,作为一种可以被过度阐释的入口,供人推敲。

作为展览基底的故事

故事是陆平原作品的核心,无论是单纯文本展示的故事系列,或其数量庞大的河原温,今天系列,还是其他的绘画、录像与装置,都无一不围绕着这样的修辞展开。陆平原也曾在访谈中提到,希望所有的装置、绘画、舞台等等物品,都是故事的一个底座,只作为辅助欣赏故事而存在。这种创作方式在 Damien Hirst 的展览《难以置信的深海宝藏》(Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, 2017)或是  Simon Fujiwara 的许多作品中可以找到参照。前者借历史素材虚构了一艘海底沉船,并将从中打捞而来的物件奉为古物作为作品展示;后者则是将个体经验与历史事件杂糅,通过场景还原与文献式的展陈陈述一个从自我角度出发的事件。

如此借故事虚构作品背景的艺术形式并不是巧合,而是后真相 (post-truth) 时代的产物。其始作俑者,无疑是媒介。二十世纪末的电视节目与二十一世纪初的网络传播,是面向全世界的。而这些媒介最为擅长的文化输出是带着碎片化、不加区分的超链接形态。Neil Postman 在其预言式的著作《娱乐至死》 (1985) 里就曾提到电视新闻节目中主持人如何用现在” (Now…This) 的句式将一个个新闻切断连贯性,以让观众习惯灾难性事件与娱乐新闻或是天气播报之间的无缝拼接。网络显然使一切变本加厉。当人们无法再严肃认真地接受任何一个事件时,对于真实性的需求也就微乎其微。2016年的美国总统选举与英国去留欧盟公投事件致使《牛津英语词典》宣布将后真相作为年度词汇,这个词表现了公众对雄辩胜于事实的接受,对谎言的轻信,与对偏见的固执信任。这也揭示了媒介的胜利,人们被花哨、令人莫名兴奋的宣传媒介剥夺了思考。后真相时代无疑是 Aldous Huxley 预言 (《美丽新世界》Brave New World, 1932) 的应验。

在艺术创作里,艺术家则是带着一种狂欢式的姿态迎接这样的时代,就如同 Hito Steyerl 为坏图像辩护一般。他们靠揭发与利用媒介带来的转变,作为表达的修辞与解放权利的工具;将原本就松动的外部世界搅乱,捏造出符合自身叙事的事件。在这个展览中,这样的姿态在融化的巧克力与全球变暖、土豆先生与毕加索的荒诞链接中可以被窥见。同时,如此编造故事的方式也在潜意识深处显露出艺术家对真实的存疑与挑逗。作品的目的不再是探究真相是什么(如传统艺术所追求的),而是个体所理解的事实是如何。

故事创作的另一个优势在于,其隐喻承担了对真实世界进行婉转思考的能力。在东西方哲学的最早先著作中,我们都能看到哲人利用故事阐述问题,或是思考抽象。它是举例论证的真身,因为故事可以将思考形化为人们能够设身处境的真实场景,这也是想象力被利用的一刻。它可以轻易包容真实世界中令人感到反常的细节,在不经意处将听故事的人带往与现实不再严丝合缝的世界。在这一方面,故事比电影具有更多优势,这也是为什么许多小说改编的电影大多令人失望的原因。故事能够在最大程度上调用个体经验以及以此为基础的想象力,它总是要比随便哪个导演形象化的剧场来的更为切身与牵动人心。

“…视觉的营造能让观众更珍视那个像幽灵一般的内容,就是我的核心——故事。就像仪式可以让信仰更有参与感一样。

故事是源远流长的赋灵手段,在先古,正是因为那些传说与神话,才使得人们对本没有生气的物件产生情感并借以寄托信仰。如其所说,故事是展览中各个作品的内核,这是陆平原的创作与任何一个借虚构完成创作的艺术家都不同的地方。作品如同仪式的道具一样,这些可被触及的物都是为了那无法形化的仪式对象而存在。也因此,展览中的物成为某种被故事的所包裹的圣物。

成长的烦恼用到最多的素材——动画片,也是 Anselm Franke 论述万物有灵时借以展开讨论的引子。这一当代文化生产中习以为常的形式,得益于人类古老的赋灵传统。面对静止的表情,如何在人工与想象力的作用下,为其赋予生命。而展览中被指涉最多的动画片《玩具总动员》 (Toy Story, 1995至今),在这一方面显示了其独特性。它首先实现了对图像的基本赋灵,让人们相信这些二维的人物具备性格、精神或是气质等等真实人物的属性;而更进一步的是,它也完成了对日常玩具的赋灵,故事片的主角就是那些被摆在货架上供人购买的玩具,这些曾经被看作死物的玩具在动画片中成为一个个活神活现的角色。这个设定为展览中的各个作品提供了前提,样板房间背后的录像拍摄了那些真实生活中玩具具有生命的时刻,刻意重复的镜头是为了夯实事件的真实性,就像是上帝在人群中需要显现神迹一样,艺术家借此设法使观众成为有灵玩具的信徒。

而展览的另一个重要脚本 HOME ALONe (1990-2012),被中文翻译为小鬼当家,其中的小鬼既指小孩,也可以理解为独自留守在家的鬼魂;这是陆平原了然于心的双关,或者说,他有意使用了翻译产生的歧义,为展览丰富隐喻。对鬼魂的认知,来自人对空间的赋灵,这意味着展厅空间也被调用为其故事的道具。通过两个故事脚本的并置,展览所影射的不仅是艺术家对象征某种理想主义的美国文化的怀旧,更包含了自身对故事及其赋灵的整套实施结构;借此,陆平原完成了对整个展览的赋灵,并将展示转化成为了一次次献给故事的仪式。

大文化的游戏

成长的烦恼的另一个主要素材来源于同名美剧《成长的烦恼》(Growing Pains)。这部美剧于1990年至1994年间在大陆播出,与艺术家共同度过了六岁到十岁的小学暑假,这也基本上是八十年代孩子的共同童年回忆。有趣的是,Growing Pains 在医学领域表示的是成长过程中身体确实出现的痛楚。这部风靡一时的美剧,将成长过程中遇到的类似毒品、自杀、同龄压力与酒精等等棘手问题进行了幽默的演绎。

从发展心理学的角度而言,儿童在此时(7-10岁)正处于确立自身与思考未来的阶段 。在《成长的烦恼》中,美式中产阶级家庭的模式,和家庭成员之间的角色分配与互动,都为艺术家与其代表的一代人塑造了遥远的样本,而他们始终生活在这类美式家庭范本与中国现实环境的显著落差中。陆平原将成长的烦恼作为展览的题目,正是将此视作其成长的写照。

他将这样的纠葛——荧幕世界与真实生活所造成的不相容,进行了艺术家式的消化。这一点,和 Bunny Rogers (b.1990) 利用展览转化创伤的方式极为相似,Rogers 在惠特尼美术馆举办的个展,正是为其 8 岁时发生的哥伦拜恩校园事件 Columbine High School massacre)祭奠,其之前的两个展览哥伦拜恩图书馆2014)与哥伦拜恩咖啡馆2016)也直接借用枪击事件的两个集中点作为展览的集中呈现。他们的创作都来源于成长过程中相似阶段的经历。

二者也都不同程度地借用屏幕背后的形象进行视像上的传达。对这些文化的再创作精神源自波普艺术,不同于波普最早出发的语境,这些艺术家实际表现出的是一种对流行文化的重新认识,一种打通所有文化类型、历史阶段、地域区隔和民族精神的普遍文化传播。这在 Jordan WolfsonOliver LaricRachel Maclean 等等艺术家身上都有所体现,而我们也可以在难以置信的深海宝藏展览中获悉 Damien Hirst 对大文化现状的理解,在那些被其视作古物的深海宝藏中,你可以看到米老鼠和高飞等迪士尼角色与看起来十分可信的古董两相混淆。

他们采用流行文化元素的方式也不再像波普艺术那样:简单模仿传媒的视觉风格,或是对这一风格所代表的文化类型做出明显的价值判断。这种方式的转变来源于景观造成的主客体混淆,我们已经不再能够像二十世纪末的人那样区分广告与自我神话之间的差别了。当 Amalia Ulman 在作品《卓越与完美》(Excellence & Perfections, 2014)中将自身通过 Instagram 塑造成一个拥有大量粉丝关注的虚构人物时,她所指涉的正是景观与自我神话混淆的现状。可以说,我们都在主动或被动地将景观深入骨髓,而艺术家在自我产出的景观中也在寻找凝视 (gaze) 的潜在对象。

这种景观与真实相互异化的过程正是现存社会的本质和支撑。而作品的自传性也从这个过程中产生,艺术家在使用景观的过程中,自我的真实开始显现,屏幕如同黑色的镜子一般照出了自己的影像。在展览中,陆平原或许是《小鬼当家》里面的男孩、或是见证玩具显灵的人,亦或是《成长的烦恼》中的其中一个家庭成员;当然,他也可能谁都不是。我们能确认的是,他在凝视这些美国文化的产物时,一定牵动了自我的确立过程,这个过程恰好反哺了他的艺术创作。

大文化的景观化或许是难以避免的,但我们或许仍需知晓其中裹挟的文化动力;在这个展览中,这成为某种留待被观众解码的线索,埋伏在空间中。样板式的房间既是《玩具总动员》中人类男孩的房间、也是怪兽电力公司” (Monsters, Inc) 用于惊吓小孩发电的房间,甚至和梵高在阿尔的卧室有几分相似。土豆先生将五官胡乱一整便自称作毕加索、 Thomas 脸上贴纸的形象像是被封印了的表情、而房间地毯的纹样则来自电影《闪灵》(同时也出现在《玩具总动员》中反派角色 Sid 的房间中)。

面对这些看似巧合的联系,陆平原不仅承担了观察者的角色,对不同地域、阶级、信仰的文化素材进行收集,并采纳进作品中;他更多的扮演了一个游戏者的身份,他曾戏称这次展览可能是有史以来最多的展览;无论是否如此,这至少暗示了他在其创作中的角色与视角,那些电影台词、动画角色的经典表情与因为全球变暖而融化的巧克力,本身就揭示了文化本质的、固有的、不可或缺的游戏成分;而除此之外,陆平原更像是 Guy Debord 曾在《景观社会》 (The society of Spectacle) 中形容的迷失的儿童一般,按照自己游戏时的情形将完全不同的材料置入到一种往往使人愕然的全新组合里。而陆平原的游戏,就是他用故事演绎的艺术。

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