吹彈可破——

談蔡士弘個展「乖離」之時間彈性與其悖論

時間一直是藝術家熱衷投入的議題,許多藝術家甚至終其一生都在探詢時間的擴延與意義;想像一下,你/妳花了一輩子的時間,只(為了)證明自己有多麼渺小——在時間面前。

文/ 賴駿杰

時間是不是線性的?就科學層面而言仍有諸多爭議,但肯定的是,時間從來都不是可以被掌握的,即便我們發明了各種規範與工具,它仍然逝之於無形,消失於轉瞬之間。人們對於時間的體認往往是一體兩面的,一方面時間會帶走青春與年華,生命逐漸凋零。但另一方面,時間的積累與淬煉,也是許多貴金屬、石/木料,甚至某些珍稀藥材等得以成形的必要條件。這種體認也總是矛盾的,難道那些「超越」常人的「非人」(也就是所謂的神仙),不是被我們認為是生命極致的理想典範嗎?這裡所謂的「非」與「超越」,即蔡士弘此次個展「武則天:乖離」的命題核心:生命對於現時的出世體認。

I.

首先來到俗常人對於帝后生活的想像(以武則天為設想),皇帝希望永掌權力,而妃后則追求青春永駐;這些想像一路延續至當代,有誰不想一直如日中天、氣勢如虹?然而,現實的回擊往往讓我們承認時間的不可抗拒,並且臣服在其面前。逆勢操作,於是變成不願承認現實對自身安排的孤注一擲。蔡士弘在展覽中放入大量的符號喻意,延續其過去一貫的諷刺手法,藉以反思當代人對於外顯財富(容顏與金錢)的盲目追求。更有趣的是,藝術家結合了股市預測中常用的術語:乖離,來詮釋人們對時間的蔑視(投資,本身就是時間的博奕)。乖離,bias,即「違背」、「背離」之意。用在股票走勢裡,它意指背離過去的移動平均趨勢,簡單來說,若遠低於平均線,即乖離率走向更大的負值,此時或可被判斷為買進時機,因其被期待終將回彈。反之亦然,若乖離率為正值,即高於平均線時,或許是賣出的判斷依據。乖離率,雖然有其統計學上的依據,但沒有人能真正保證市場上各種人為操作與自然走勢的準確預測。其在此拉出的光譜,或許可被理解為時間的拉扯,它談的不是時間的壓縮,而是「彈性」;若其最大值是固定的,那在這裡面若能拉出多大的時間彈性,則可能獲得最大利益。所以,就市場的投機性而言,乖離率越大,則投資報酬率越高。

從時間的彈性來看「武則天」的駐顏之術(藝術家所給的題示),對於時間之極度拉扯所對應的就是吹彈可破的肌膚:美好且緊繃的皮膚,拉平了時間的縐摺。假想一個人所能擁有之一輩子時間是固定的,那麼拉扯越多(急進地獲得更多)所付出的回彈風險越高,高投報也反映了高機率的負報酬。與追求金錢財富所不同的是,欲求抹平身體衰老的痕跡所投入的賭注不是其他,恰是「生命」自身。消抹時間痕跡,亦即否定生命的積累;這方面的矛盾可以體現在藝術家的大理石系列作品中,那掩蓋於石片平滑表面下看似平靜、其實隨時準備迸發的內在張力。大理石元素是蔡士弘首次使用的繪畫語彙,用以寫實地描繪本應柔韌的花草植物,若將花草的短暫絢爛比擬作青春之即逝,則大理石化正是封存此一瞬時的最佳手法。保留了最美,卻也不堪一擊;堅硬卻又脆弱的形體(大理石),對照的即是柔軟但又堅韌的精神(花草)。其中一個很大的原因來自人們的誤解,一般用石材做雕像以其永存或紀念高貴的精神與理想,彷彿其不受時間的限囿而得以永恆。

II.

然而,大理石卻是有時間性的,它本身就是世俗的產物。化石(生物的生命遺跡)是其石灰岩的主要組成,經長久地殼擠壓而發生質變,形成最後的石灰岩結晶。正是這種時間的壓縮與伸張,讓蔡士弘的畫面更令人玩味:不僅在於符號喻意的矛盾解讀,也在於其所賴以探討的繪畫本質之衝突。即便藝術史上不乏於平面上創造時間的嘗試,但繪畫從來都是空間的;況且藝術家又在畫布上憑藉丙稀顏料的特性,組構出更為堅實的空間層次。畫面上,用以構建出這所謂層層空間的圖像,則是可謂之為超越時間的、俗稱永生水母(Immortal Jellyfish)的生物。時間與空間的翻轉、共生與互斥等議題,如同其他藝術家也成為蔡士弘的中心探索。在此新系列作品裡頭,部分延續了其過去慣用的「複製貼上(control+c)」之輸入語法,在空間中不斷進行複製,藉以消弭時間之積累,例如往復出現的金魚自然地拉出了一條時間的走向。比較特別的是,蔡士弘鑽進了文字轉喻、修辭所另闢的一條蹊徑,在話語的想像空間中,編織出時間的線索,如同后冠前華麗的垂珠墜飾,晃眼奪目且奢靡難求。若將視角再次拉回主視覺的后冠設計,將寶石垂珠的意象,比擬做股市預測中的乖離率走勢圖,則可更理解其中巧妙。正是在時間之延展與拉扯中建構的空間想像、波峰與波谷之間的落差,成了財富追求之標的;正如同那象徵天子之尊的冕旒,錯落的光影所交織出的海市蜃樓。

對於時間的延展與痕跡縐摺的撫平,也可以從其切實描繪在大理石片上的作品來理解:大理石切片就是真正的時間切片,在裡面可以看到難以捉摸的時間被折疊、具現化為立體的空間層次,象徵著長壽且尊貴的錦鯉與龍魚則穿梭其中。大理石所蘊藏的時間層次,其中的揉壓與推擠、不斷往復的破碎與拼組,皆在工業化的加速製程中,被打磨殆盡——光滑、規則且毫無瑕疵。其實,它原本可以是永生的,原本可以無涉於世俗。正是這些加工反而加速了其走向死亡,時間的抹除同時也在消滅其生命;大理石片從自然石料,變成由數字的編冊與索引所組成的工業建材,在完成使命後被遺棄,最終由藝術家所檢選成為創作的基材。也因為其顏色與紋理,讓大理石片自帶空間深度,金魚則彷若穿過層層的時間而游現於觀者眼前。不規則的石片斷裂邊緣,又再次(弔詭地)將大理石材拉回其生命的本原,而金魚則像活化石般,鮮活地陷入時間裡。

III.

這些所有作品皆可被視為一種對現實的補償,或者,用藝術家的話來說,是一種「補時」,那些被快速消耗且丟棄的無用/緩慢時間,在此重新被提供。這些畫面可隨意添加、拼組並延展成一共同/通的世界,而在此之中,時間似成泥沼或炎漿般地緩速流動,與快速變遷的當代社會成鮮明的對比。而藝術家大量使用的螢光色,除了會使所繪之物更趨「無生命」之外,也會營造出凝滯、阻絕的濃郁空間,在其中,所有的速度都將失效。且看那華美的大理石花草與鑽石,也總看似岌岌可危,隨時都可能崩裂。總體來說,「乖離」系列作品是讓人感到抑鬱且沈重的,本應清透明快的永生水母,也像是身陷泥濘般地失去了活力。最後,魚鉤呢?這個幾乎出現在所有畫面中的元素,又該如何理解?以「願者上鉤」來理解,或許過於人類中心思考;反過來,從魚的角度來看,其所望向的永遠都不是釣鉤,而是上頭的餌。也就是說,這是建立在虛妄上的非自願交易,所交易的則是生命。藝術家在此將當代人諷刺性地比擬為池中之魚,而我們都在各種阻礙中,奮力游向誘人的糖衣。然而,藝術家再次留下一耐人尋味的提問:那沒有半點兒魚餌的鉤子,要鉤的願者究竟是誰?又或者如藝術家所言之「願者即是鉤」?我們所無法觸及者或許從來都不是欲望的對象,而是欲望自身。

面對那設置誘餌的操盤手,池中之魚的我們,誰又將上鉤呢?

Text/ Jay Chun-Chieh LAI

I.

This is the first time that the element of marble has been used in Shih-Hung Tsai’s painting lexicon, realistically illustrating the supposedly flexible flora. If the splendour of flowers and plants is like youth withering away, then using marble is the best approach to preserve such an instant. The most beautiful and the most fragile are preserved; the hard but delicate form (marble) is contrasted with the soft yet tough spirit (the flora). One of the major reasons comes from people’s miscomprehension, as in general using stone for statue is to preserve or commemorate noble spirits or ideals, which becomes eternal as they are not bound by time.

II.

This new series of works partially continues and extends the habitual use of the“copy and paste (control+c)” input commands of the past, where it is constantly replicated in space, to eliminate the accumulation of time. An example is the recurring goldfish that naturally draws out a progression of time.(Rephrase)

With regards to the extension of time and the smoothening of the marks and creases, this can also be understood from the realistic illustration of the work on marble slabs: a piece of marble is a piece of time, and the unpredictable time within it is folded and manifest as three-dimensional space and layers, with koi and Asian arowana symbolizing longevity and nobility weaving in between. The layers of time contained within the marble are kneaded, pushed and pressed together, with endless fragmentation and reassembly, which are all polished away by the industrialized, accelerated manufacture process – smooth, regular and flawless. As the matter of fact, the marble was eternal, and was not part of the mundanity. It is these processes that accelerated its path towards death, and the erasure of time simultaneously removed its life. From natural material, the piece of marble becomes construction material that is formed from the cataloguing and indexing of numbers.(Rephrase) It is disposed when its mission is complete, but ultimately becomes the base material chosen by artists for creative works. Due to its colorations and grains, the marble piece carries a spatial depth with it, where the goldfish seems to swim through layers of time to appear in front of the audience. The irregular broken edges of the stone slab once again “bizarrely” bring back the marble’s essence of life, while the goldfish is like a living fossil, freshly embedded into time.

III.

All these works can be considered a compensation for reality, or, as the artist says, a “compensation of time”, where the rapidly consumed and discarded useless/slow time is again provided here. These images can randomly add, assemble and extend into a common/connected world. In the midst of this, time is slowly flowing like mud or lava, forming a stark contrast with the rapid moving and changing society of today. The artists use large amount of fluorescent colors which not only makes the objects depicted look more “lifeless”, but also create a rich space that is blocked and stagnant. Within it, all speed loses effect. A look at the gorgeous flora and diamonds on the marble, also show its fragility, ready to collapse at any time. Overall speaking, the works from the Bias” series give the audience a heavy and depressive feeling, where even the normally clear, transparent, immortal jellyfish also seems to be stuck in the mud and has lost its vitality. Finally, what of the fish hook? How does one comprehend this element that appears in almost all of the images? Using the Chinese idiom of “those who are willing will get hooked” to understand this is perhaps a little too human-centric; conversely, from the perspective of the fish, what it sees is never the hook, but the bait on the hook. In other words, this is an involuntary transaction based on falsehood, where life is traded being. The artist satirically depicts modern man as fish in the pond, and we are all swimming hard to overcome obstacles and head towards the alluring bait. However, the artist again leaves a philosophical question: if there is no bait on the hook, who is the willing? Or is it as the artist says, that “the willing is the hook”? Perhaps what we can never actually touch is not the subject of desire, but rather desire itself.

When faced with the master controller who set the bait, will we, who are the fishes in the pond, be hooked?