Email exchange with Guan XIao after a meeting in Aike-Dellarco Gallery in Shanghai during her group exhibition “Video Unchained” (11.05-11.06.2013) curated by Weng Zhijuan.
“The theme of the exhibition refers to the revolution of ideology implied by the evolution in the language of new media art and its effect on the transmission of information in contemporary society. The video ‘Reading’ by Guan Xiao combines visual and audio dimension trying to get to the essence of the objects she observes. The result is a rythmic multi-dimensionnal work appealing to the senses of the viewer.” Weng Zhijuan
July 6th 2013 23:38, From: Xiao Guan to : Genoud Léa
Léa Genoud : In the last show you participated to [Video Unchained, group show at Aike-Dellarco Gallery, Shanghai, May-June 2013], you presented a two-channel video called Reading. On one screen you showed a computer animation of what could be described as archaeological vestiges and on the other screen scrolls a text that seems to be describing in a poetic and abstract manner the visual experience the viewer is having on the other screen. Could you tell us more about how you conceived this work?
Guan Xiao: First of all, I believe that reading is not an act only for text. Reading is a process of individual cognitive through the perception and thinking of materials.
As you saw, this video has two screens. The left side screen content is completely constituted by images. All the shapes, such as the vases, are from some major auction house catalogues. I was always interested in historical relics. To me these ancients objects are more and more present contemporary aesthetics because of the passage of time. I want to make them return back to the contemporary context to play their role.
Although the meaning, the history and the function that they originally represent has already disappeared in time, I’d like to re-build a new way to apprehend them by watching rather than restore their significance or function at that time. All shapes and materials have very unique rhythm and language that belong to the objects, if we concentrate enough on watching, we can feel the various expressions of the object.
On the right screen, I chose to present only text. These words use different rhetorical method to divide theirs sections and to synchronously transform the left screen images. But they are not simply describing the picture but to express the process of how we can wave the individual thinking through reading image. This relates not only to the art watching, but also relates to all objects that we want to watch. To read all unspeakable images like reading books.
LG : We know that for your last solo exhibition “Survivor’s Hunting” at Magician Space in Beijing you made a three-channel video called Cognitive Shape who consisted of a compilation of images you collected from the web (YouTube, Vimeo), TV and DVD as well as clips you shot yourself. We would be interested to know if you linked those two videos (Cognitive Shape and Reading) in a more general research on what is your/our relationship to internet and the new media (video) and how does it influence your/our way of seeing?
GX : I think it’s obsolete if we continue to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Internet. It’s already become to the way we watching world and communicate with the outside. The more we deeply use Internet the more we discovered, how to find or retain our individuality become a difficult thing. When we get information too easy and too fast that more people become vested interest, constantly “take” without to think about why. This leads to too many art woks look like by same person, and too many meaningless images and information’s wastes are dumped on Internet. They quickly come and also quickly disappear.
I cost long time online almost every day, and GOOGLE always is my favourite toy. After a long time over searching and watching stage, suddenly I feel like zoom out: All images, informations, music, texts are flat spread in front of me. Then “watching” is no longer only stay in visual level but becomes a complicity imagination and a thinking aggregation. No matter what form of seeing, hearing, reading, they all work with us to expand the cognitive border.
Everyone should work or think like a creator. I always believe that art should beyond language. Although we still need to use language to express, but language is just the same as all other objects of our creative material. For me, the artist’s working is more like a guide, by self-practice to transform abstract and mysterious feeling to knowable. Here to borrow a phrase from Bruce Nauman: “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths.”
LG : Could you tell us about your next(s) project(s)?
GX : There will be a new gallery opening in Shanghai September; I’ll present a new video called ” Where is David”. In this video I still use 3 screens and focus on the situation when people shooting things. Relate in humorous way to emphasize the importance of consciousness during watching.
And I’m also planning a performance project with a dance artist. This will be a part of my solo exhibition next year and directly link to the subject. It will exhibit in a space, which like a shop window in September or October.