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机器与人之间 —— aaajiao个展《屏幕一代：前传》
2013.11.02 – 12.01
在后面的一种情况下，《硬》更为突出。这件作品在它对于原来由科学家作家以撒·艾西莫夫开发而在这里的录像资料中阐明的《机器人三定律》的瓦解当中，推翻了艾西莫夫对如何在机器中培养基本伦理理解的想法。 其实艾西莫夫提出的定律是从一种偏执的出发点而成立的。他设想我们发明的机器人必须编有保护人类的程序，因为在这当中他假定了我们有受到这些新生命威胁的可能性。aaajiao 在对电子脉冲的介绍中透露了机器有把它们自身的保护意识“转”成一种正是推翻这种意图的意识的能力。
《硬》是唯一一件在这次展览里不涉及呈示它的屏幕的作品。它利用屏幕传统的表现功能来展示图像在它被传达到屏幕之前的变形状态。回到对aaajiao在展览中使用的屏幕的思考，如果它们的作用（正如我所说的）有更深一层的意义的话，我们也许应该考虑到在涉及到这些屏幕时人扮演的是什么角色，他们之间的关系又是什么，就是说， 我对于《屏幕一代》 提出的那些关联是否在某种意义上，人和屏幕各个方面的总和？它们如何互相影响，互相构成。
The Screen Generation: aaajiao solo show
2 November – 1 December, 2013
There is a certain element in aaajiao’s work’s presented in The Screen Generation that makes a feature of the self-display of technology – technology using itself to represent itself, in a layering of its own existence. But the phrase “self-display” suggests a machine presenting itself (or some aspect of itself) to the viewer, and while this may have been the case in aaajiao’s earlier solo exhibitions, the “self-display” in the works found here is not such a one-way operation – from machine, outwards, without regard to the presence or absence of a receiver. Here this operation exists as interactions with the human senses and understanding. Ultimately the works exist not in themselves, but in these interactions with a human that takes in the sensory information provided by the work and makes something of it. This “something” is not just an expanded understanding of the work, it is that expanded understanding.
The display medium used in The Screen Generation is the flat screen. In a number of the works, these screens appear to display various aspects of themselves. In the other cases they work with the cultural understanding of technology and present certain commentaries on it through their own ability to represent.
In the latter case hard stands out. In its degeneration of the three “Laws of Robotics,” originally developed and here enunciated in archive footage by the scientist and writer Isaac Asimov, this piece subverts his ideas on how to programme a basic ethical understanding into the machine. But Asimov’s Laws are worded from a paranoid point of view, making the assumption that our creations, the robots, must have the protection of the human programmed into them, the unstated assumption being that otherwise we are under threat from these new beings. aaajiao’s introduction of glitches into the exposition reveals the machine’s own possibility to “turn” the meaning that is designed to protect, into that which subverts this intention.
hard is the only work in this exhibition that does not deal with the screen that it is displayed on, but uses the screen’s conventional representational ability to display an image, the distortions of which take place before it reaches the screen. Returning to this consideration of aaajiao’s screens, if (as I have said) there is an expanded understanding of their work, we might ask where the human stands in relation to these screens, or what is the human when stood in front of the screen? What is the relation between the screen and the human, in the sense that the relations I have suggested in The Screen Generation are the sum of various coinciding aspects of human and screen? How does the one inform the other part, and how does each constitute the other.
The question that can perhaps be productively begun with is: “What is ‘human’ in relation to aaajiao’s works?” These works embody the concerns that such a question articulates, so the question can be seen to play itself out through them, and by investigating these artworks perhaps we can make some intelligent statements that approach the question.
The six pieces that make up The Screen Generation are soft, repeatedly, hard, pure, static, and noise all take their real-world format from the dimensions of the TV screens they are presented on. However, the artworks all exist and begin as digital applications developed by the artist. The screen might then be understood as a somewhat arbitrary container and frame for the visible and audible components of these applications. But by suggesting that the results of these applications exist less in the various images and sounds produced by them and more in the reception of these components by the audience, it can be said that the screens play an important role in the work of the pieces, and—taking this further—that these works are then human-oriented.
In asking, “What is ‘human’ in relation to aaajiao’s works?” a fundamental aspect of his work is then seen to be these screens. What is the screen then? The screen is the absolute horizon of meaning, the point at which what is “outside” and what is “inside” the screen negotiate their territory of meaning. The territory of meaning being the application’s generation of data that becomes image and sound through the screen, and subsequently the human’s generation of meaning through sensory experience of these. In soft two bright blue screens appear to show the shadow of an object crossing their surface. This object exists only in the application’s generative programme, yet seems to relate to an object on the other side of the screen casting its shadow on it. The viewer “reads” these shadows in both ways at once, inside and outside.
This positions the comparison and relation I have suggested between the activity of the application and the activity of the human. But their activities do not have the same aim. The human that interprets the sensory stimuli, does not do so in the same way that the application generates data – the application is only partly generating for a human audience. It might be possible to hold the application’s generative capacity up to the human’s interpretative capacity, and suggest relations between them, but this is something of a poetic licence. In any case such statements would retain a human-centric interpretation of the situation. It could be asked how can one see this not just from a human-centric point of view but also from the machine-centric point of view? What would that mean?
In aaajiao’s works the outward-facing aspect of a screen-centric approach (and hence, that which provides the possibility for communication with the human-centric) seems to be demonstrated by this way that the screens might be said to “demonstrate” their meanings. This might be related to a certain performativity, in which the subject’s actions are not (just) about their aims and end points, but shift the focus from these to the act of the action. The works pure and noise can be said to be performative, in the sense that performativity is not simply being what they are, but presenting (or performing) that being. Thus a performative work is not necessarily a direct reflection of its nature, as that would not include an element of criticality in the process, such criticality entails presenting the nature of whatever “thing” is the subject, as well as presenting it in such a way that it can incorporate the possibility of its own questioning.
Other works can be said to represent this questioning by representing the performativity, but are not strictly speaking performative in themselves. By doing so, the works act not for themselves but for the artist or the audience. The work static is not what it appears to be—the imperfections of a computer display which allow light to leak in from the edges—but a computer generation of such a feature that relates to what it is – the computer screen. The glitches that it displays tell us about a computer screen, but are not actually the glitches that occur on that screens, but a representation of such glitches. As such these represented glitches are not glitches anymore, the audience must imagine that they are glitches. These work in the same way as a didactic presentation: “Here is a demonstration of the thing I am talking about. While you can see this ‘in the wild,’ this here is a recreation.” The recreation presupposes a transfer of the effect, and this transfer holds the key to the work. To present the glitches is one thing that perhaps tells us something very direct about the computer screen and its flaws. To represent the glitches takes them into an idealised state; they become something like poetry because the hand of the artist has embedded itself into those glitches, such that it is not a glitch any more but representation of a glitch.
In a similar way, the artwork repeatedly uses a convention of file formats, the animated GIF to trick the senses into interpreting the visual image into a representation of three-dimensional space. The GIF is dimensionally small, but on screen it tiles to fill the available space. The animation is such that the particles that make up the overall image appear to seamlessly travel across the screen. The simple dots move in relation to each other to create the illusion of perspectival depth, yet they are just black pixels against a white background. The mind could see the image as merely a flat expanse over which the black dots travel at varying speeds. But the mind seems inclined to interpret these varying speeds as the same speed at different depths. The screen then becomes a frame into a space created by the movement of the pixels, the simplest form of 3D being one that technology merely suggests and which the mind then recreates for itself.
So, returning to the question: “What is the human in relation to aaajiao’s works?” it might be interesting to think that the human is in some way constituted by the information that the screen projects out, which then meets the human, the audience, half way. The human is the other to the screen, as the screen is to the human. aaajiao is the creator of an ecosystem between the human and the screen, one that constitutes each from the other.
Author: Edward Sanderson