廢鋼鐵的誘惑 — 劉柏村鋼鐵雕塑的人、自然、材質與場域
以上兩則劉柏村的「駐廠日誌」，讓筆者聯想到法蘭德斯畫家波希 (Hieronymus Bosch, 1450-1516) 的三連屏畫作《聖安東尼的誘惑》(Triptych of The Temptation of St Anthony, a. 1501, oil on panel, 131 x 228 cm, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal.)。一位是活在中世紀封建制度，政治動盪和宗教道德沈淪時代的波希，以反諷與幻覺式的繪畫語言，畫出聖安東尼，面對惡魔挑釁和誘惑，心存聖潔苦修的故事；一位是處於21世紀，工業社會科技文明高度發展的雕塑家劉柏村，每天面對著東和鋼鐵廠廢鐵的強烈誘惑，想在山下挖山洞蓋房子與鋼鐵共舞。這兩個時空背景毫不相干的例子，究竟是什麼原因讓筆者把他們聯想在一起？
不錯，正是三波「工業革命」(Industrial Revolution)所締造出來的「工業文明」(Industrial civilization)，改變了社會，顛覆了世界。「工業革命」又稱「產業革命」，它指的是從18世紀開始，因為資本主義(capitalisme)的崛起，技術、生產、通訊的發展，帶動世界現代化整體連鎖改變的現象；它的發展是持續的、跨世代的，雖然歷史學家對起始時間和國家至今仍有爭議，但大多數認為最早起源於十八世紀的英國。
第二波的「工業革命」大約在1880年左右，牽涉到諸如石油、瓦斯和電力新能源(nouvelles énergies)的使用，以及動力馬達(moteur à explosion)、電器照明(éclairage électrique)、電話等的重要發明。這時期因能源是產業革命生產機器的動力，所以開發能源，便成了助長殖民帝國主義(l’impérialisme colonial)思想繁衍與蔓生的幫兇禍首。
第三波的「工業革命」是在20世紀的後半葉，主要是量子物理(la physique quantique)、電子(l’électronique)、電子計算機(l’informatique)電腦(l’ordinateur)等科學與科技的應用以及網路通訊的發展(développement des communications)。這一波的發展在還沒邁向全球化之前的初期，美國、日本、歐洲是三足鼎立(triade)眾所矚目的工業超級大國；而中國、印度和其他新興國家尚未見跟上行列。 如今，這一波的震盪既深且巨，已成全地球不得不跟進的豪賭，人類不斷地創造「非自然」的「自然」以及生產「非人類」的「人類」(機器人)。
其實，劉柏村所感到震撼的廢鋼鐵,，在第一波的「工業革命」，冶金工業技術的進步加上機械化的生產模式，早已佈下資本主義體制大量生產大量消費的生產結構；而第二波的動力馬達的發明和新能源的開發，製造各種板金、鋼材的工作母機問世，金屬產品和鋼鐵材料的生產速度如虎添翼；第三波電子世代的通訊網路發達，建立無孔不入的全球行銷網，以消費刺激生產的新供需觀念，讓消費者在資本主義者打出提升食、衣、住、行、育、樂現代化的美麗藉口下，自我迷失，不斷的喂養喜新厭舊的品味，陷入法國社會學家布希亞(Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007)所說的「消費社會」(La Société de Consommation ) 的泥沼而無以自拔。社會學家在憂心煩惱，生態學家大聲疾呼提出警告，政治學家忙著洗腦，只有資產家的「托拉斯」(Trust)集團，剝削勞力併吞中小企業，壟斷經濟命脈，囊括財富與權力，當然一片叫好。
在這樣的時代背景和氛圍下，藝術家當然不是，也絕不可能是一群出世的緘默者，不管他們對工業文明採取樂觀歌頌或憂心排拒的態度，或者接納順應但不排除批判，他們卻是反應最敏銳的族群。雖然英國浪漫主義的畫家泰納(Joseph Mallord William Turner 1789-1862)在1844所畫的《雨、蒸汽與速度》(Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway, oil on canvas, 91 cm x 121.8 cm, National Gallery, London)已透露出頌揚交通工具工業化的訊息，但真正反應工業文明消費社會大量生產大量消費，是1960年於法國醞釀成形的新寫實主義(Nouveau Réalisme)。在藝術批評家皮耶賀•黑斯塔尼（Pierre Restany 1930-2003）的號召下，於1960年4月16日，假義大利米蘭發表了第一次「新寫實主義宣言」；同年10月27日，就在克雷恩(Yves Klein 1928-1962)位於巴黎 (Rue Campagne-Première, Paris) 的住宅，簽署一項「新寫實主義的組成宣言」（la Déclaration constitutive du Nouveau Réalisme）。簡單明確的組成宣言是以白色粉筆手寫在染有克雷恩典型藍色的紙上（100 x 66 cm）：「新寫實主義的藝術家們已經注意到他們集體共識的獨特性。新寫實主義就是對真實事物重新感覺和認識的方法。」
當時參與簽署的成員，除克雷恩之外，還包括阿賀曼(Armand Pierre Fernandez，dit Arman 1928-2005）、杜費內（François Dufrêne 1930-1982）、安斯（Raymond Hains 1926-2005）、黑斯（Martial Raysse 1936-）、斯波耶里（Daniel Spoerri 1930-）、唐格里（Jean Tinguely 1925-1991）、維格雷（Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé 1926-）等八位藝術家，加上批評家黑斯塔尼總共九名，每人各持有一份。其他成員塞撒(César Baldaccini, dit César 1921-1998)和羅德拉（Mimmo Rotella 1918-2006）未能參加這個聚會，至於妮琦‧德•聖-法爾(Niki de Saint Phalle 1930-2002)和德享（Gérard Deschamps 1937-）是在這個團體傾全力公開活動的1961年加入該團體，而克里斯多(Christo Vladimirov Javacheff 1935-)遲遲於1963年才參與。
其中唐格里以各種回收鋼鐵輪子與動力馬達，創造可運動、有能量和會發出聲響的動力藝術(Art Cinétique 或Kinetic Art)；塞撒以拆卸的鋼鐵現成物、廢棄的汽車板金鋼鐵材質，組裝焊接或壓縮(Compression)的方法，做成立體造形及改變回收物原始功能的具象焊接雕塑；阿賀曼則以日常用品的現成物透過「集積」（Accumulations）、「憤怒」（Colères）、「切割」（Coupes）等手法表達對工業文明消費社會既讚頌又憂心的矛盾情結；法國的新寫實主義常被美國人大而化之地認為與普普藝術係出同門家族的藝術運動。固然，它們都是工業文明和消費社會底下的產物，但事實上，兩者的研究與導向，有其基本立足點的不同：美國的普普藝術的確也有藝術家使用工業產品，新的或用過的、重新找回的廢棄物，但大部分的藝術家還是著眼於消費文明現象的本身，氾濫的商業產品廣告和消費圖像，有如巴洛克豐采般地直接呈現；而新寫實主義的藝術家，則是透過工業社會快速生產、大量消費機制下的廢棄物、殘渣垃圾、新舊產品回收物，提出對文明、社會，甚至環境生態保護的反思與批判，化腐朽為神奇。新寫實主義的精神導師黑斯塔尼表示這個運動的到來，是跟人們二次大戰後選擇寫實類型的心態有關，而此種類型的寫實又是朝向日常生活的現實面的關照。黑斯塔尼進一步做了說明：「它就是工業的、都市的、傳播媒體的」，而當他談到克雷恩的時候，更明白地指出這種現實面即所謂的「現代自然」，它脫離不了「影像文明」（la civilisation de l’Image），也脫離不了「消費的社會」（la société de consommation）。 黑斯塔尼一針見血地區隔了新寫實主義和普普：「藝術性仲裁協調的介入對普普是重要，但新寫實主義將它降低到零。是眼光創造作品和擔負所有審美的道義。」
「人」和「自然」兩者之間的微妙關係，自古代以來，就是哲學家、社會學家和藝術家最常討論、研究和表現的主題。作家暨哲學家德‧薩德 ( Alphonse François de Sade 1740-1814)是一位誕生在工業化初始時代的見證者， 他曾說：「在成為社會的一員之前我是屬於大自然的人。」 十足反映出由農業社會轉進工業文明初期的思維意識。在農業社會裡，人跟自然的關係是密不可分，而自然還往往主宰人類的存亡，即便到現代高度科技化的數位文明，人和自然的關係看似越來越疏遠，而人和人的關係愈來愈緊密；但別忘了，人在浩瀚的宇宙大自然裡，仍然是極其渺小的「有限」，對著無法盡知與超越的「無限」，人是無法擺脫自然而生存，單單沒有凈潔的空氣和水就可以讓人類滅種，萬物絕跡；而人與人的關係之緊密，事實上是靠著數位科技拉近距離，是虛擬沒有溫度的接近。
劉柏村面對高科技文明，人與自然相處模式或人對自然的觀念之遽變 ，他的感受是憂喜參半；喜的是工業化科技化的社會：便捷、快速、精確、有效率；憂的是觀念和實質的改變自然、破壞生態、貧富懸殊拉大、人性淡薄冷漠、城鄉差距越來越遠、失業人口遽增，維繫社會平衡的結構改變，滋生許多新的社會問題。他透過作品，似乎在傳達他發自內心深處糾結的吶喊：我是高科技文明的社會成員，但我是自然人，對我生存的空間是呵護的是尊重的。就以他的「金剛系列」來說，首先劉柏村對工業文明消費社會的人類意象的形式選擇，並非築基於為造形而造形的平台上，而是從人文的角度自我提問與探索：「如何去解釋當下人類所處的環境？又如何藉金屬的表現去傳達人類所欲建構的理想世界？…運用健美先生『金剛』的肢體造形符號來傳達一種烏托邦式的或理想性的概念。」 所以他的「金剛」是人的代稱，而健美先生的意象形塑，一方面是反映消費文明奢侈的媒介符號 (英國普普藝術之父Richard Hamilton在其作品 《Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? 1956》，便使用過健美先生的圖像)；一方面是反諷工業文明時代人類的曖昧情節，有時是活力十足充滿希望，有時像個頭壯壯四肢發達，滿以為人定勝天，憧憬著改變人必須生存其中的大自然。劉柏村在其「駐廠日誌」有進一步的說明：「金剛之身，指的是鋼鐵自身；金剛非金剛，是健美先生的化身轉換；體格強壯，指示現代人慾求的理想世界。」
為了凸顯劉柏村從社會人文角度的思考，產生雕塑作品的創作方法，和從形式優先，而後再去思索衍生社會寓意的創作途徑之間的差異，正如同欲研究德拉克窪的浪漫主義和其他諸如傑里訶(Théodore Géricault 1791-1824)的浪漫主義之間的差別，若不從「德拉克窪的日記」(Journal de Eugène Delacroix)中所載靜思沈澱後的內心真言去追蹤觀察，那是無法得到破解一樣，因此筆者不避諱一再援引他的「駐廠日誌」。
這一段文字劉柏村透露了什麼訊息呢？首先他關心材質的問題：作為一位以鋼鐵為材質的雕塑家，他非常清楚材質是藝術家重要的傳輸媒介與詮釋語言，它是雕塑作品的血液，也是肉體；它是藝術家內心深處的形象，賴以具體呈現在外的形式媒材。法國哲學家暨藝術評論家羅蘭‧巴特(Roland Barthes 1915-1980)是塞‧湯布利 (Cy Twombly 1928-2011)藝術的最佳詮釋者，當他談到後者的抽象鉛筆素描時說道：「材質將呈現其藝術的本質，向我們展現所謂鉛筆的信念」 ，這位後結構主義的藝術批評家將塞‧湯布利的繪畫特質和他所使用的鉛筆材質劃上等號，除了表示他極度瞭解藝術家之外，對材質本身具備的說服能力更是予於肯定。其次，劉柏村從鐵的銹化現象立刻連結到考古意象的文化歷史思維，而將放眼一大片形形色色的廢鐵山，視為帶著考古記號的「特殊場域」：這個場域就是現代人所看到的現代文明的考古物品集積的意象。就藝術創作的形為或行徑而論，劉柏村的創作，實質上到這個階段，已經算是完成了，剩下來的只是執行的任務，執行他對人、自然、材質與場域的切身體認和成竹在胸的詮釋。
於是《金剛化身—神祇》(2013, 鋼鐵，240 x 180 x 410 cm) 採用東和鋼鐵廠廢鐵提煉成的鋼板，上面畫出金剛形象，依線性輪廓原則由外而內，如地形圖般地重複描繪金剛人形；然後像剪紙藝術的概念，以氧乙炔焰高溫進行切割，並從切割線的空隙，將線性金剛拉申與延展，形成多變化的重複影像的「構成」；其中金剛手持的樹葉造形，便是用於詮釋工業文明的鋼鐵和葉子所代表的自然兩者之間的矛盾和對話，也釋放出藝術家對現代人類企圖結合兩者的烏托邦世界的犀利觀察。這種訊息，同樣在藝術家利用囤積如山形的廢鐵堆場域和金剛之間的對應與對比，強烈地傳遞開來。
劉柏村善於運用陽剛粗獷的材質和充滿活力的造形，來傳達他細膩的思維。《金剛列像》(2013, 鋼鐵，10 x 200 x 240 cm)同樣以東和鋼鐵廠廢鐵囤積區為裝置場域，也以廢鐵囤積區的回收金屬作為表現素材，拼裝組構出大小規格、動態相近的金剛形體，依序排列矗立於質感各異，形狀有別，交錯縱橫卻渾然有序的廢鐵山上，讓這一大片失去原始功能，也無生無息的廢鋼鐵堆，突然活了起來，因為廢鋼鐵一旦被藝術家人格化或擬人化之時，它便負載著藝術家給它的生命及命運。
《城市變身》(2013, 鋼鐵，550 x 560 x 400 cm)在人、自然、材質與場域的表述型態上，別具營造平面與立體空間藝術雙關語法的用心。劉柏村開始從事金屬材質創作的時候，就是「以人作為對象物，透過構成的方式來詮釋，利用人的形象去談構成的內容，這種方法是以空間為訴求」。 所以他仍然以線性平面人形輪廓，在鋼板上由外而內，間隔地重複進行線描並且使人的輪廓形狀產生漸變；再以這些形同平面繪畫線性輪廓的人形進行空間性的佈署與組構，形成多重線條的穿梭交疊，就面的角度來說，它是一幅具有律動性和節奏感的線性素描；就體的角度而言，它是實質佔有三次元空間的線型雕塑，玩味著虛實幻象的連鎖變化。這種減輕量體的空間藝術，就目前的國際雕塑趨勢而言是有逐漸上揚的傾向，其中有享譽國際的西班牙雕塑家若姆‧普朗沙 (Jaume Plensa 1955-)，他以不銹鋼線繩編織的人頭或文字及字母所組成的超級鏤空人像，其戶外大型雕塑，散佈在世界至少20個國家的土地上。
筆者之所以提到普朗沙，是因為劉柏村的《金剛山》(2013, 鋼鐵，650 x 450 x 600 cm) 和《金剛門》(2013, 鋼鐵，105 x 13 x 245 cm) 兩件作品，可以和前者的鏤空不銹鋼雕塑作個比較。就構成元素而言，普朗沙是以設置地點有關的人文風俗、歷史傳說的文本或符號，選擇關鍵性的文字字母或符碼作為組構的基本元素；劉柏村同樣以設置地點有關的金剛人形為基礎構成的元素；但前者是語言學抽象的示意，後者是具象視覺的象徵符碼。就構成形式來說，兩位雕塑家都以鏤空的組構手法，營造和座落場域間的緊密關係，並以鏤空穿透的方式，減輕建構量體的沈重。就材質處理的方法與心態來看，前者將模鑄字母，以精細拋光的表面處理，凸顯工業文明高科技精準的計算；後者則將雷射切割的同一規格的金剛形體，以強力火槍燒烤表面，並在其軟化時作適度的扭曲變形，再透過高溫燒熔去除銳角和刻意留下粗糙拙厚的表面處理，反應出劉柏村對工業文明的貢獻和粗暴的論斷批判，不是無「前提」的態度，但他的「前提」又寧願保持某種「不確定性」，或許這「後現代意識」是閃開被歸類的法寶。無論如何，兩位藝術家最大最深層的差異，是對人與自然關係的關照態度之不同詮釋。
在東和鋼鐵廠駐廠創作對劉柏村金屬雕塑的徹底體驗和精進，是一次不可磨滅的洗禮。《異地》(2013, 鋼鐵，240 x 210 x 110 cm；210 x 220 x 100 cm；160 x 170 x 50 cm；210 x 110 x 90 cm) 四個群組構成的大型劇場，是巧妙地運用煉鋼鍋爐剩餘的金屬爐渣—地金—作為三五群聚、姿態同中求異的小鋼人，演出人類生存競爭的愛恨情仇大戲碼之活動舞台；戲劇性的場域震撼力，媲美法國夫婦雕塑家安妮與派特里克‧波瓦希耶(Anne et Patrick Poirier 1942-)神秘廢墟的張力。劉柏村在使用地金作為場域或成為主體的系列創作，除了《異地》外，其他諸如《異境—初始I》(2013, 鋼鐵，230 x123 x 227 cm)和《異境—初始II》(2013, 鋼鐵，120 x 100 x 248 cm)以及《大地容顏》(2013, 鋼鐵，210 x 140 x 230 cm)，都強烈地呈現他念茲在茲的「考古意識」與「考古意象」。「考古意識」讓劉柏村的作品不能單純從造型美感去定調；而「考古意象」顯示了他作品的高度，對地金原初自然面貌的尊重，似乎影射著終結人類進化過程中不斷地被摧殘與踐踏的命運，回歸宇宙初創的大地本色。如果說《異地》是一幕劉柏村面對著工業文明所安排的「啟世劇」，那麼《異境—初始I》與《異境—初始II》是劉柏村用於喚醒良知所導演的人類進化史的「紀錄片」，而《大地容顏》不就是劉柏村為工業時代的人類，迷失在時間的交變與價值的權衡時，應知所反思所立的「座右銘」！
劉柏村對鋼鐵所象徵的「工業化」或「機械化」的造型語彙，往往是逆向思考，他運用機器但不想成為機器，所以他喜歡以有溫度、有生命、有活力的「有機造型」，回應這個機械化、規制化的時代。2014年在高雄所完成的戶外大型鋼雕《雲端漫步》(9 x 9 x 3 m )，以鋼板切割的高聳樹幹，固然為了釋放工業文明的訊息，作出局部幾何形狀的小分枝，其他包括頂端的線狀白雲，係以不規則甚至是粗糙扭轉的鋼條，像塞‧湯布利塗鴉式的素描線條，自由自在地在天空的畫布纏繞。劉柏村的思緒很細密，他的造形語言是自然的，但也絕不放過任何機會表明他是時代的信使，運用語言學的雙關語：「雲端」漫步不僅是他作品的自然意象，也暗喻資訊時代的流行詞彙。
《穿梭神木之間》(2015，鐵、不銹鋼，20 x 20 x 4.5 m)，是一件壯觀的公共藝術，座落於嘉義縣政府旁邊的公園。從高處俯視才能看到整個神木排列的陣形：一圈一圈由內而外，或由外而內，重複種植著一棵接一棵以阿里山神木為意象的鋼鐵樹木，圍成一處世外的桃花源。這作品特別設計邀約觀眾穿梭於神木之間，體驗工業文明建構的第二自然鋼鐵森林。其實劉柏村藉此拋出人類矛盾而焦躁的一個議題：我們努力追求的卻不是我們所要的；我們最期待的卻往往是我們最憎恨的，醒醒吧工業人！
另一件同樣在嘉義縣政府旁邊公園的公共藝術：《生命之舞》(2015，銅，7 x 3 x 2.5 m)，延續著從2013年的金剛與地金的有機造形，而場域的屬性是公園綠地，因此劉柏村為求形式語言和場域周遭環境的一致，首先援用鋼鐵雕塑表面處理的剝蝕、坑凸和招牌的健美先生壯碩的體態作模，接著再翻鑄成青銅並以銅綠作表面處理。整體意象勾起有如宇宙初創的原始精靈，在一片見不到地平線的綠野，舞出生命神奇的熱力，召喚觀眾愛惜自然界的任何生命包括自己，進而激發保護生態的意識。人與自然始終是劉柏村最關切的創作議題。
劉柏村1991年從法國巴黎高等藝術學院雕塑系，獲得碩士學位後返台任教與創作；2004年至2006年擔任國立台灣藝術大學雕塑系系主任，2011年復接掌該校藝術博物館館長的職務；但他從未因為行政工作的繁瑣與忙碌而影響他的創作。他的個人展覽連連，國內外聯展也不缺席，成果備受矚目好評不斷。就國際展覽來說，劉柏村曾代表台灣，在不同國際性展覽中，和一些國際知名而重要的藝術家，諸如錄像藝術之父韓國白南準(1932-2006)、最低限風格的英國雕塑家菲利浦‧金(Phillip King 1934-)、以木頭和樹及自然物為造形素材的英國雕塑家大衛‧納希(David Nash 1945-)、義大利超前衛雕塑家暨畫家米默‧帕拉締諾(Mimmo Paladino 1948-)、最低限藝術的義大利雕塑家亞那勒多‧波莫多洛(Arnaldo Pomodoro 1926-)、美國地景藝術(Land Art)或環境藝術(Environment Art)但比較偏好自然生態的藝術家亞倫‧桑費斯特(Alan Sonfist 1946-)、以木料天然材質建構超級龐大建構體著稱的俄國雕塑家尼可雷‧波利斯基(Nikolay Vladimirovich Polissky 1957-)等人共同展出過，這是光彩的經歷。
此外，劉柏村正接受來自法國巴黎「人類博物館」(Musée de l’Homme)的委託案，請他特別為該館製作以《龍》為主題的作品 (2015，青銅，42 x 64 x 21 cm)，這對劉柏村而言又是一項殊榮。據法國報紙消息報導，該館目前閉館翻修，預定今年年底將以全新的規劃與樣貌重新開放；這時候直接委請劉柏村製作，別具意義。好事成雙，劉柏村同時又應義大利羅馬一家A. Roma Lifestyle Hotel飯店的委託，準備購置他三件大型戶外雕塑：《吻》(製作中，黃銅染色，245 x 205 x 265 cm)、《生之頌》(製作中，黃銅染色，150 x 115 x 500 cm)、《城市變身》(2015, 鐵、烤漆，高：360 cm，3組一件)，將永久陳列於飯店前面的廣場。以他從事雕塑藝術的歷程而言，才二十四年的創作時間，能有如此成就的確不容易。
The Seduction of Waste Steel
—Human, Nature, Materials and Sites in Po-Chun Liu’s Steel Sculpture
Prof. Zhe-Xiong Wang
Ph.D. of Art History and Archeology, Université Sorbonne- Paris IV
Former Director, Department of Fine Art, National Taiwan Normal University
Professor, Graduate School of Industrial Design, Shih Chien University
I. About the Title of is Article
“Layered mounds of waste steel inspire the imagination of artists, they crave to approach them. The landscape of the accumulating steel changes daily as trucks carry the materials in and out. Everyday there are new, fantastic scenes awaiting to be given new meanings, it is how metal sculpture is motivated (Sep/01/2009).”
“I have wished to find a place in a mountain to house my sculpture since a long time ago. With the inexhaustible piles of iron and steel in the plant of Tung Ho Steel, I dream to dig a cave and construct a hut at the hillfoot nearby so I can work with steel and iron om dawn to dusk, like dancing with them everyday throughout the daylight hours (Sep/02/2009).”
The above paragraphs came from Liu Po-Chun’s diary of residency that reminds me of Hieronymus Bosch’s (1450-1516) Triptych of the Temptation of St Anthony (a. 1501, oil on panel, 131 x 228 cm, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal). Bosch lived in the medieval age of unreligious, tumult feudalism and moral failure. With a sarcastic and illusional style, Bosch illustrated how St Anthony faced the seduction and challenges of devils, and cultivated his sacredness in austerity. And Liu, a sculptor lives in the 21st century of highly developed technology and industries and is seduced by the waste materials provided by the Tung Ho Steel. He wishes to build a hut in order to stay with these materials all the time. What connection between these two artists living in completely different ages and backgrounds made me associate them?
The reason is actually quite simple. Through the Temptation of St Anthony, Bosch expressed his anxiety over his time. And through steel sculpture, Liu divulges his joy as well as regret of the mass production and mass consumption in industrial civilization. us I compare what tempted St Anthony with waste steel. To be more clear, St Anthony’s tempter or waste steel, they are the mediums of the artists’ messages about facing their own world. The word “seduction” I chose seems to be tricky since the former was sacred, the latter is secular, but after a long time of consideration, I decided to use “seduction” for the title of this article because it best carries out my ideas.
II. Messages from Industrial Civilization and Consumerist Society
Liu wrote in his diary that, “ The world is changing quickly and drastically, and new cultures emerge endlessly which alter our inner values. The world formated by technology inspires our desire of a second nature, which dominantly divides our view of nature.”
Indeed, it was the industrial civilization created by the three waves of industrial revolution overturning our world. Activated in the 18th century, industrial revolution was the result of the birth of capitalism as well as the innovation of technology, production and communication. The ripple effects activated modernization, a continuous, cross-generational movement. Although historians still have different viewpoints about when and where it initiated, most of them agreed that it began from Britain during the 18th century.
The first wave of industrial revolution was mainly the mechanization of industries, such as textile, mining and metallurgy, thanks to the invention of steam engines and the applications of coke, as well as the machines for fabric production and mining. The success of industrialization also could be attributed to the prevalence of credit loans from banks. The surging dynamism in industries and businesses brought in mass emigration of people from countrysides to cities. Nevertheless the living conditions for the people from the bottom did not improve as much.
The second wave of industrial revolution began around 1880, triggered by the usage of petroleum, gas and electricity among other new energies. Traction motors, electrical illumination and telephones were invented. During this time, industrialization was fueled by newly discovered energies, which stimulated the expansion of colonialism/imperialism.
The third wave took place in the latter half of the 20th century, powered by the revolutionary development of quantum physics, information technology and digital science that made networked communication possible. Before the globalization overwhelmed the world, the triad of US, Europe and Japan were superpowers, leaving China, India and other rising economic entities behind. This wave of industrial revolution shook the world, today all the countries have no choice but to jump into the game, and artificial natures, cyber humans or robots are fabricated one after another.
e waste steel and iron seductive to Liu had established the framework of mass production under the overpowering capitalism and consumerism as early as during the first wave of industrial revolution. And the discovery of energies, the invention of machines and tools for sheet metal and steel during the second wave gave wings to the manufacture of metal products. Electronic communication developed during the third wave has successfully constructed a ubiquitous network of marketing in order to implant new ideas of demand-supply into the public. Brainwashed by tempting slogans of better food, clothing, dwelling, traveling and entertainment, consumers were taught to replace the old with new as quickly as possible. They are lost, trapped in the “consumer society” Jean Baudrillard pointed out. Sociologists are worried, environmentalists are warning, politicians are spreading propaganda, and the only party enjoys itself is the corporate trusts which exploit laborers, merge smaller businesses and monopoly economic artilleries, wealth and power.
In such an atmosphere, by no means artists could remain silent. Embracing or repelling, worrying or greeting, accepting or criticizing the coming of industrial civilization, artists were the most sensitive people about the changes. As early as in 1844, British romanticist painter J.M. William Turner (1789- 1862) had praised new transportation in industrial age with his work Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway (oil on canvas, 91 cm x 121.8 cm, National Gallery, London). But not until the 1960s did the art society collectively respond to the mass production and mass consumption of industrial civilization through the Nouveau Réalisme that took shape in France. Called by art critic Pierre Restany (1930-2003), artists gathered in Milan on April 16, 1960 and announced the Nouveau Réalisme Manifesto. On October 27 of the same year, Yves Klein (1928-1962) and other artists signed la Déclaration constitutive du Nouveau Réalisme in her apartment at Rue Campagne-Première, Paris. The terse declaration was handwritten in white chalk on a blue paper Klein usually used (100x66cm). It was said that, “Artists of New Realism are aware of their unique collectivity; New Realism is a new approach to our perception of real things.”
In addition to Klein, another seven artists signed the declaration, they were Armand Pierre Fernandez (1928-2005), François Dufrêne(1930-1982), Raymond Hains (1926-2005), Martial Raysse (1936- ), Daniel Spoerri ( 1930- ), Jean Tinguely (1925-1991), and Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé (1926- ). And Restany also signed. Each one of the nine members kept a copy of the declaration. Two members did not attend the signing, they were César Baldaccini (1921-1998) and Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006). Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) and Gérard Deschamps (1937- ) joined the group in 1961, when it became most active. And Christo Vladimirov Javache (1935- ) did not join it until 1963.
Tinguely employed used steel wheels and traction motors to produce moving artworks that made sounds, it was his kinetic art. César welded and pressed steel parts or products, such as abandoned panels from cars, to make his sculpture. The original functions of the parts and products were altered. Arman expressed his love and hate among other contradictory feelings about consumerism through accumulating, cutting or smashing ready-made products for daily use. Nevertheless, Nouveau Réalisme is often mistaken by Americans as the same movement of Pop Art that also responded to consumerism. In fact, they set out from quite different standpoints and drove toward different directions. American Pop Art also made use of industrial products, new, used or abandoned, but most of the artists focused on the phenomena of consumerism and the direct presentation of excessive commercial images, not unlike the style of Baroque. And artists of French Nouveau Réalisme reflected upon the damages to civilization and environment caused by mass production and massive waste, and their creation magically transformed used or trashed products into art.
Restany, deemed as the mentor of Nouveau Réalisme, pointed out that the birth of this movement came from the preference of realism after the Second World War. Realism at this time reflected people’s concerns of the reality in life. He further explained, “It is industrial, urban, and is regard to mass media.” Using Klein’s actions as the example, Restany defined the reality he had referred as a “modern nature” which never could break away from a civilization of images, or consumerism. His comment sharply distinguished Nouveau Réalisme from Pop Art, “ The moderation or intervention of artistry is crucial to Pop, but such significance has been reduced to zero by the Nouveau Réalisme. It’s our eyesight deciding the art and taking the ethical responsibility of beauty appreciation.”
Liu’s attitude toward the temptation of waste steel and iron was consistent to that of Nouveau Réalisme artists. Liu said, “Consumerism has produced excessive goods and their duplicates, and technology has compressed time and space. New inventions accelerate the replacement of old things, and in such distorted time and space, our values are decided by materialist economy. These mounds of waste iron are the most powerful proof.”
III. Human, Nature and Site
The subtle relationship between humans and nature has been the frequent topic of discussions, research and presentation of philosophers, sociologists and artists in the history. Writer and philosopher Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814) was born in the beginning of industrialization and had witnessed the sea change. He said, “Before becoming a member of the society, I belonged to nature.” It well depicted how people thought when the world turned from agricultural to industrial. In agricultural era, people had inseparable relationship with nature that decided their life and death. Today, in the digital era with highly developed technology, humans disassociate themselves from nature and tighten the bonds between one another. But do not forget that in the immensity of universe, humans are still extremely trivial and are incapable of understanding the borderless nature our survival relies on. Humans, among all beings, could extinguish simply without clean air and water. And although humans feel closer to one another through digital technology, such bonds are virtual without temperature.
Our changed ideas and attitude toward nature in a world of highly developed technology bring the artist delights as well as worries. On one hand we enjoy the speed, precision and efficiency of the industrial society, on the other we witness the destroyed ecology, increasing gap between rich and poor, worsening rural and urban disparity, as well as problems resulting from imbalance, such as high unemployment and social indifference. rough his art, Liu seems to cry out, I am a member of the hi-tech civilization as well as a human being, and I respect and take care the space for my survival.
Take his Iron Man Series for example, Liu’s choice for the image of human in the industrial civilization and consumerist society was based on his exploration of humanity, rather than on his consideration of forms. He raised questions to himself, “How to interpret the current situation of humans? How can I present the ideal world humans wish to construct through shaping these metal materials? … with the torso and limbs of a bodybuilder, the Iron Man is to symbolize the utopian idealism.” Liu’s Iron Man with the image of bodybuilders suggests extravagance (British master artist of Pop Richard Hamilton also used similar image in his Just What Is It at Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956) of consumerism. The artist also uses it to satirize the naivety of humans who are so determined to change nature because they are convinced that their strong bodies are able to overpower it. In his diary, Liu wrote, “ The essence of a bodybuilder is the steel and iron, not the man. The firmness of body is the ideal quality people pursue today.”
The steel and iron Liu applies include steel panels that had been forged and cut repeatedly, or whose malleability had been increased in high temperature. He picks out recycled parts or products for welding and surface treatment, he makes use the machines, tools and chemicals available in the factory, as well as the slag found under the furnace. As a sculptor, Liu created a new semantics and grammatical constituents for the entire domain in order to deal with his contradictory feelings about industrial civilization. Liu’s definition and extension of his formal language, as well as his endless invention of exciting, legendary working procedures, have distinguished him from other metal sculptors.
Just like the comparative study of the romanticism of Eugène Delacroix and the romanticism of others, éodore Géricault (1791- 1824) for example, it wouldn’t establish without studying the truthful thoughts the artist had written down after calm deliberation in the Journal de Eugène Delacroix. To outline the difference between Liu’s creation through his thoughts on humanity before deciding his forms and other sculptors’ priority of forms, I must quote his diary again and again.
“The oxidization of iron induced by acid liquid results in fast erosion. The sense of time solves in such quick damage. Thus metal ready-mades become archeological symbols of the history. The piles of waste iron have been converted into an unusual site of archeology full of objects of modern time for modern people to excavate.” (Sep/05/2009)
What messages Liu has disclosed in this paragraph? First, he focuses on the materials. A steel sculptor, Liu is very clear that materials are the mediums as well as the languages of artists’ interpretation. They are the flesh and blood of sculpture; the embodiment of the images artists bury deeply in their mind. French philosopher and art critic Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was the best interpreter of Cy Twombly’s (1928-2011) art, he talked about Twombly’s abstract pencil sketches, “Materials represent the nature of art, showing us the certitude of pencils.” The post-structuralist art critic equaled Twombly’s pencil and his painting because of his deep understanding of the artist and his insight of the persuasive power of materials. Secondly, Liu associates rusted iron with archeological sites and marks the mounds of waste iron as a special domain with archeological significance. It is an archeological site of modern civilization in the eyes of people today. In terms of the actions or approaches of creation, Liu’s art could have completed at this stage, the rest of the tasks are his own personal experience with people, nature and materials, as well as his definite interpretation.
The Transformed Iron Man— The Deity (2013, Steel & Iron, 246×180×410 cm) was manufactured with the steel panels forged by waste iron provided by Tung Ho Steel. Liu drew the figures of iron man and repeatedly cut out his profile like paper-cutting, only it was cut with high temperature of oxyacetylene flame. From the seams between cuts, the lines of the iron man were pulled out and extended to constitute multiple layers of changing images. The tree leaf the iron man is holding suggests the paradox between iron- symbol of industrial civilization- and leaf- symbol of nature. It is the artist’s observant conclusion about human’s wish to integrate both in a Utopia. rough the contrast of piles of waste iron and the sharp images of the iron man, the artist’s messages are spread with even stronger signals.
Liu is very good at expressing his sophisticated thoughts through masculine materials and vigorous forms. Lines of Iron Men (2013, Steel & Iron, 10×200×240 cm) was also manufactured with waste iron at the recycling site of the Tung Ho Steel. It is a combination of iron men of different sizes and similar movements. Arrayed iron men standing orderly among the interlinked mounds of waste iron, each has its unique quality. They revitalize the arid recycling site, the discarded materials are given lives and stories by the artist.
The Transfiguration of the City (2013, Steel & Iron, 550×560×400 cm) demonstrates the artist’s thoughtful handling of issues regarding human, nature, materials and sites through the puns of art language in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional spaces. As early as Liu began metal sculpture he has “set human as his motif and configuration as the framework of interpretation. And the images of human are about the content of configuration that develops from the outside toward the inside of steel panels.” The pro ling proceeds repeatedly at intervals and gradually alters, and the 2-dimensional figures are regrouped and deployed around the site; their contour lines overlock and constitute pictures of dynamic and rhythmic sketches. They are 3-dimensional linear sculpture with ever changing void and solid. This type of sculpture with lightened volumes has a new trend in the international sculpture society, one example is highly acclaimed Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa (1955- ), who weaves human heads or huge human figures of letters with stainless steel threads. His works have been installed in at least twenty countries all over the world.
Mentioning Plensa because two works of Liu can be compared to his hollow sculpture, they are The Mountain of Iron Men (2013, Steel & Iron, 650×450×600 cm) and The Door of Iron Men (2013, Steel & Iron, 105×13×245 cm). In terms of constituents, Plensa refers local customs and folk stories to select letters from keywords among other significant symbols. Liu also shapes his iron men referring local traits. The art of the former comes from abstract linguistic elements, the later from figuristic visual symbols. Both artists have their hollow sculpture with lightened volumes to establish an intimate relationship with the sites. Plensa carefully polishes the forged letters to emphasize the precise calculation of hi-tech in industrial civilization, and Liu cuts out iron men of the same scale with laser before burning their surface with re gun. He twists them slightly when the iron is softened and gets rid of sharp angles through melting them in hot fire in order to create plain, even rough surface. Such a style is Liu’s opinions about the contribution as well as the violence brought up by industrialization. Liu refuses to accept industrial civilization without preconditions, but he makes his preconditions uncertain. Perhaps it’s his strategy to avoid being labelled. In short, the deepest difference between the two artists is their attitude toward the relationship between human and nature.
The residency in the Tung Ho Steel has brought Liu a thorough advancement in metal sculpture, leaving him a mark of milestone. Altered Land (2013, Steel & Iron, 240×210×110 cm;210×220×100 cm;160×170×50 cm;210×110×90 cm) is a large theater constituted by four groups of sculpture. They are small steel human figures manufactured by slag, each group has three to five of them with slightly different positions. They are performing dramas of love and hate, of survival competitions of humans. is project reminds me the dramatic tension in the mysterious ruins created by French sculptors Anne and Patrick Poirier (1942- ). In addition to Altered Land, Liu’s Altered Territory — Onset I (2013, Steel & Iron, 230×123×227 cm), Altered Territory — Onset II (2013, Steel & Iron, 120×100×248 cm) and Face of Mother Earth (2013, Steel & Iron, 210×140×230 cm) all present his strong concern about the archeological connotation in the metal. His “archeological conscious” pushes his art beyond simply being decided by its formal beauty, and his “archeological imagery” shows the depth of his work. He maintains the appearance of slag, suggesting an end of the misfortunate of human, whose fate has been devastated again and again; it also suggests the final return to earth. Altered Land is Liu’s revelation for industrial civilization, and Altered Territory — Onset I& II are like the documentary of human evolution, with it he intends to wake up our awareness. And the Face of Mother Earth can be used as a maxim to remind people in our time how we could be trapped in trading time and value in industrial civilization.
Liu always thinks reversely about the formal language of steel and iron as the symbols of industrialization and mechanization. He makes use of machines but refuses to become a machine. Instead, he responds to the mechanic, standardized world through making organic things with temperature, life and vitality. The large outdoor sculpture Roaming over Clouds (9×9×3m) Liu completed in
2014 consists several towering trees. The small branches from the tree trunks are releasing messages, and the outlined white clouds on the top are shaped by irregular, rough steel threads, not unlike Townbly’s scribbles, and the sky without boundary is his canvas. Sophisticated in thinking, free in formal language, Liu never lets go any chance to be the messenger of his time. With the pun, Roaming over Clouds contains ideas of nature as well as up-to-date technology.
Strolling Between Giant Trees (2015, Iron & Stainless Steel 20×20×4.5 m) is a spectacular project of public art, installed in the park next to the Chiayi County Hall. An entire picture of how these giant trees are arrayed can be seen only from above: concentric circles planted iron trees with the images of red wood in Ali Mountain, an arcadia is created. An inviting project for visitors to stroll in it, to experience the man-made nature of steel trees. rough this project, the artist brings up the issues plaguing us: What we have pursued hard is not what we want, and we loath what we had desired. Wake up, people in industrial era!
In the same park, Liu’s another public artwork Dance of Life (2015, bronze, 7×3×2.5 m) continues the organism of the slag iron men in 2013. To respond to the site in a public park, the artist sought a formal language compatible by the surroundings with bronze cast of his earlier bodybuilders of rough appearance, and their surface are maintained peeled and patinaed. Elves dance in an expansive green field in a newly formed universe, they radiate magic aura and passion, reminding people to take care of themselves as well as all beings. It is a project pleading for environmental consciousness. Liu never ceases expressing his concern of human and nature in his art.
Liu earned his master degree emphasising sculpture from École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1994. From 2004 to 2006 he headed the Department of Sculpture, National Taiwan University of Arts. In 2011 he took the position of Museum Director of NTUA. Liu never allows his burdening administrative work affecting his creation and has solo and joint exhibitions in Taiwan and overseas frequently. Liu’s works had been exhibited among acclaimed artists including forefather of video art Nam June Paik (1932-2006) from Korea, minimalist sculptor Phillip King (1934- ) from the UK, David Nash (1945- ) from the UK who creates with stone and trees among other natural objects, avant-garde sculptor/illustrator Mimmo Paladino (1948-) from Italy, minimalist sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro (1926- ) from Italy, landscape/environment/ecologist artist Alan Son st (1946-) from the US, and sculptor Nikolay Vladimirovich Polissky (1957-) from Russia who creates gigantic projects with wood among other natural materials. Exhibiting with these artists, Liu’s earns himself a glorious curriculum vitae.
At this moment, Liu is working on Dragon (2015, Bronze, 42×64×21 cm) commissioned by the Musée de l’Homme in France. It is an honor. The Musée is under remodel, according to news, and is scheduled to reopen in the end of 2015. It will be a double blessing when Liu’s work is completed and displayed for the inauguration. Liu also is commissioned by Roma Lifestyle Hotel in Italy to create three large outdoor sculptures. They are Kiss (In manufacture, Dyed brass 245×205×265 cm), Praising Life (In manufacture, Dyed brass, 150×115×500 cm), and the Trans guration of the City (2015, iron, spray paint, height 360cm, three pieces). These three artworks will be permanently displayed at the plaza in front of the hotel. For a sculptor devoted himself in sculpture for only twenty-four years, it’s indeed an unusual achievement.
Before starting steel and iron sculpture in 1996, Liu actually had tried different materials and methods, including clay, marble, granite and FRP among other ready-mades. But he realized that the art of sculpture should not alienate itself from the reality of our survival; it should not be appreciated as treasure only. Steel and iron are the symbols of industrial civilization and consumerism, thus he devoted himself in this tough and challenging tasks without hesitation. Steel and iron are Liu’s mediums, the carriers of his critical ideas of humanity and environment among other social issues. The cold steel and iron are given temperature by Liu’s art, he gives them lives and certain destinies.
When an artist’s style is recognized by the international society, he will feel the energy and the power in himself. Liu Po-Chun is at the peak of his creation, an explosive dynamics is awaiting. We cheer for him, and expect his greater achievement.