The 8 young artists who participated in this exhibition all have their own unique experiences of studying abroad, from a geographical perspective we can see they all share a collective “Off-Shoreness”. But perhaps what art provides us with is not the obsession or promise of some other shore, instead, it’s the continuous venturing offshore in the artist’s processes of reflection and creation. In doing so, they explore and depict a myriad of possible and impossible “Shores”: Regarding those bewildering, painful connotations of what it means to be a human, in the boundless of abyss of ambiguity, on the threshold of truth attainable via sensibility and rationality.
“It takes 10 hours and 50 minutes to fly from San Francisco to Shanghai, the whole journey stretches across a 9872-mile distance. The time difference between Shanghai and San Francisco is 15 hours.” Zhao Qian began working on the conceptual framework of the piece “A Field Guide”by dealing with the intersection where these organic bodies and abstract numbers meet. The displacement of time, space, and culture ushers in a montage of the senses causing the sequence, linguistic logic, and narrative style of that once stable image to become loose, flexible, and blurry. Like The Instruction Manual written by Julio Cortazar, in this manual, the artist does not provide any familiar paths or language, instead, through children’s graffiti, models of hopscotch games, and amalgamated imagery your eyes guide you into desolate and dismal domains.
A map titled the “Unreachable Destination ” is a deconstructive experiment in which the world map is spliced in a highly standardized manner and then the place names are reorganized and rearranged, making it seem right while actually being wrong. Lin Siqi’s work has always been centered on understanding, language, and order. She is exploring “whether or not there is an established system that contains all the indeterminacies that can satisfy all the directive connotations; reflecting on how to create a system of cognition that actively and orderly creates failures, which in turn create chaotic insignificance, making it ineffective, and impossible to talk about.”
An illusion about “people”, Xiang Zhenhua’s “catalogue” series transforms various models from fashion catalogs into clear, accurate and consumer-driven models through continuous stacking and processing, transforming them into conceptual figures. The equivocal spectrum of colors portrays the faint outline of a “person”, and the remaining color data reveal the appearance it once had. The picture is like a “person” being built around an information scaffolding, like the complete reverse of Gandhi’s famous quote “my life is my message.” This is a portrayal of “people” in The Society of the Spectacle. Feuerbach said: “But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence, ……for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.”
In the series “Goldfish Aquarium” a large number of handmade paper products are manifested in a refined reality, and the texture of the object’s surface is unified before the intervention of digital pixels takes place. Yin Hang’s photography reflects on the essence of images, revolving around the topics of “real” and “symbolic”. He mimics nature, combining it with his own sensory experience. The entire process is very dialectic, from the placement of the image, onto the reproduction of the texture in the image, the work is rooted in the iconic object. Looking at the final digital image, how far are we from what is “real”, do images have purity? He is exploring the potential of “seeing”.
“When the woods float,
Your soul, your joyous soul,
Oscillates in the silent waves of the heart. (Holderlin’s “To Nature”)
In the vast and quiet forests of the Cascade Mountain Range in the northwestern United States, Xie Wendi roamed and met strange animals: slugs, chipmunks, blind spiders, porcupines of various colors and shapes… The smell of plants, the soil, coupled with the various textures and surfaces all-around her gently guide the artist’s senses with their bio-rhythm and positioning, encompassing her inside it. She uses orange wood chips to spread the trajectory of the sun and makes a variety of small objects with transparent glass. These transparent and exquisite unnamed objects shimmer in the fluorescent forest and whisper away in the sphere of physis. They are traces of the encounter between the artist and the forest.
The Nocturnal lamp is an image portrayed in Qiu Yiwen’s work about “fetishism”. The lamp here does not wish to become someone’s accessory, as it longs for its own personality and liberated life. The exchange of emotions, warmth, and memories between humans and objects, when you use it, look at it, it gradually encompasses you. The ontological discussion about “humankind” has begun to rattle. The artist unleashes this latent image, traveling through the night lights, enjoying the sound of instruments, and even writing the “The nightwalker’s Guide to the earth”.
“There was a lake on the top,and the wather was blue and shiny.We saw the sun.I Woke up.” (Plastic Utopia III)
The geographical map on Google Maps is a realistic data simulation. Here the world is desolate, and the non-human perspective makes the unfamiliar and alienated ever more imminent. This is a “plastic inverted image” about the earth. The mouse cursor can take you to any corner of the world in an instant, or soar weightlessly across every square inch of the sky. In Plastic Utopia III, Fang Daqi incorporates a mosaic of satellite images and different terrains to create an uninhabited island scene, a natural illusion. Fragmented snippets of diary entries are recited by a real voice, and the extremely smooth texture of the landscape’s surface is revealed by a sudden streak of sunlight. Stretching the sensory judgment of our observations, it presents us with the close proximity yet unbridgeable distance between the real and the virtual.
We keep dreaming, but we will wake up.
Zhang Wenxin is constantly traveling, not only in reality but also culturally, spiritually and historically. She said that she is a land surveyor just like the protagonist in The Castle by Kafka. Using the magic of technical images, she continues to make maps that shape another terrain of human consciousness. In “Memory Caustics”, she took the photos she had photographed during her trip and conducted several conversions into different forms of media, finally reinserting them into a replicated modeling of the original scene. However, due to the inevitable loss of information during the processes of data conversion, the final model seems unfamiliar and desolate. Following the footsteps of the virtual people in the picture, you and I wander together in the model of consciousness created by the artist, stepping into her digital experience, which is transmitted and corroded.
Therefore, with this exhibition, hope can lead to thinking about how “offshore” is a metaphorical state and an attitude. At the end of the novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Marquez portrays a ship which as the whose captain is determined to never dock again, staying at sea between shores forever. This sort of determination to remain offshore is about a kind of free will that’s motivated by love.
The reason for going offshore is to be able to redraw the landscape. The significance of going offshore is in being off shore.