换一下招牌 a change of signs:
We do it every year…
We do it every year…
I recently ran into this mini project from students of FEI Jun‘s media lab at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (courtesy of NO+CH). They call them “micro-observations”, and according to the students, serve “not merely as a magnification of the thing itself, but as an enlargement of the act of noticing. ‘Micro-observations’ bring about not only a paying attention to the unnecessary, but in revisiting these objects the transformation of their semantic meaning.” Nice public intervention~
参与艺术家 Participating artists：费俊 FEI Jun、尚钰 SHANG Yu、宋思琪 SONG Siqi、张宝珠 ZHANG Baozhu
The crowd gathers as an unknown man takes initiative to help a taxi driver get his car keys out of a tree. While this is happening, the line of cars grows steadily behind his cab, which is stopped in the middle of a single-lane street. The scene lasts for approximately 10 minutes, only returning to ‘normalcy’ after the climax of a fiercely angry young man trying to block the taxi driver from driving away and finally chasing him down the street. Glorious China!
There is a guy in my company, he’s also from Hunan so we became friends. When he was still going at school, he took his bike to go home, and when he arrived on the main road he suddenly thought, why not going a bit further? And he rode his bike until Vietnam. Of course it’s a special case, but you know, it’s about character.
Sometimes we think about something, and we just do it. Comes from the transcription of a conversation I had last year with the director of an outdoor activities company.
behind: Obey Public Virtue, Share Civilised Life
front: Construct the “Firewall”, Peace for You Me He
Along the lines of the donkey (re: recent outing), who stands the rather lonely figure amidst the chatty crowd, it is a questionable act to gather with a basket of beers from around the world on the occasion of artist books. Or, it’s just that one mustn’t gather here. Security guards erupt upon slyly innocent donkey caretakers, but artists’ non-communication says enough to call the big brothers who have a bit more persuasive powers. The Donkey Institute and its books were not necessarily here to make a stand, though, so a few prods of the ass and everyone is fine to make a leisurely dashed and dotted caravan further up the street, where we do not disturb the south entrance of Lido Park! It’s a smooth-awkward transition, a meandering gathering that slips away just as the 城管 chéngguǎn slide in with their marked car. The sight of an indignant security guard explaining gross offenses to the 城管 chéngguǎn fades away behind us.
Half a block away, the roving Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art settles into its new location at a busy intersection of northeastern Beijing during rush hour. Passersby range from pyjama-clad grandmothers to young boys on electric scooters and white collar foreigners. Donkey’s rough institutionalising feels like the park we’ve just left, and casual social gathering leads quite naturally to sitting on the ground with knees up, idle chatter, dangling cigarettes. There are stark contrasts within the formations of a socius: park up-spring, lonely donkey, noisy traffic.
And friends. I don’t know many of you, but it supposes that our mutual presencing here around the book cart of a lonely donkey brings us together. What Nancy says about the lack of feeling of the social contract, we know must be much more demanding than that. Like the tall friend in the yellow t-shirt with the kind of face one cannot place as young or old; his smile tells of feeling in everything. He is the happy friend of Michael or Yam or Edward, warm to everyone, always smiling. He puts his long arm around the shoulders of the friend to whom he may be talking to at any moment. Happy, friendly visitor, come join us for dinner. And yet further inquiry reveals that the terms of these relations may make themselves felt in another way; he is an observer, sent by the 城管 chéngguǎn.
At the end of a long dinner table, Yam blurts out in English, “He’s police! He’s got a badge!” This kind of information can stun and lend unease to any meal, but after a moment of conscious staring――and seeing that our only potential subversion of donkey cart and artist books has already gone home――Xinjiang food at a long dinner table proceeds in just about the same lively manner. Voices and chopsticks criss-cross in dynamic fashion. The friendly observer is not merely a passive onlooker; during the course of the meal he charmingly makes his way around all edges of the table, offering cigarettes, getting to know everyone. These are tactics, yes, but perhaps no more than those of the smitten out on a first date. Let us get to know the 公安局 Public Security Bureau, of which I later find out he is a part. I am uncertain what forms of freedom or rights I may relinquish in seeing a particular light within this encounter, but perhaps that should depend upon how many dinners we share with those that are watching us. The reports must be written anyway.
As the group disperses after dinner, friendly yellow-shirted PSB officer and I happen to be left alone together to walk a short distance in the same direction, and rather than any other proposed confrontation with the authoritative kind, it is, yes, filled with the awkwardness of potential romance. Me and the PSB! We ask questions about one another. He explains to me how our meeting was set up by the chéngguǎn, which wouldn’t have occurred in the past but now work together after a recently created triumvirate between the police force, PSB and the chéngguǎn (usually separate policing bodies with varying jurisdiction). Why? What threat can there be to fear?
Yellow-shirted friend likes Hong Kong pop music, has been thrust into this line of work by his grandfather and father before him, and now patrols the Dashanzi area in plainclothes as a day-to-day, perhaps making friends with all sorts of people. Our date is not so special, I guess. Even so, my inner monologue is conscious of the rising tension as we walk towards our departure point. He insists upon escorting me all the way to my bicycle, and I wonder what the equivalent of a goodnight kiss would be in this situation.
In the end, I ride away, and he waves goodbye, calling out, “路上要小心!” I like him so much. This could be ridiculous, in consideration that what we in other realms may have considered right could have been infringed upon tonight. It is simply that the contracts make themselves felt in a very different way here, and the small heart of our interactions with representatives of the State are like the awkward openings of an encounter beyond power. I don’t know. This was perhaps just an exception, but it seems like a resolved attitude for many of us in the neighbourhood, where it is possible to acknowledge the overbearing authority of the State and yet pay no heed to it. Everything is means. Like faded propaganda posters, I don’t know how my mind has changed already.
The Fensiting Community bulletin board announces some very important news for local residents: the Number Five United Meat Factory will be arriving to Xiaojingchang Hutong today, July 5th, from 7:00-11:00 am. If you need meat, you can come buy.
Dousing one’s patio with water helps to beat the summer heat. Brother Zheng (老二) redefines our local radius by improving upon our meagre efforts.
This is a sound walk that 谢婷婷 Hailey Xie and i made in January, seven days after another big snow storm in Beijing. It was originally intended as material for the second issue of wear journal, but it felt a pity to turn all of these sounds into text-only format. We ended up leaving it out, though now in light of a recent conversation with Bruno and Hlynur in Buenos Aires, we could imagine the winter again.
I am walking with the ZOOM H4n digital recorder with built-in mics (now panned for left ear), Haxi is using a minidisc player and Sound Professionals in-ear binaural mics (now panned for right ear). If you listen carefully you’ll hear some things in a strangely layered effect, though i’m sorry though to say, i’ve destroyed the binaural in putting our tracks together. Here’s from the doorstep of HomeShop to the edge of the alleyway, before everything gets lively. Download the mp3 version [256kb/s, 11.4 mb] here.
When I was exporting the file for this, somehow the file became corrupted and time-stretched… Thought some of you might enjoy that, too.
HomeShop doorstep, 11 August 2008. 11:36.
Xiao Zheng borrows needle and thread to securely fasten a small Chinese flag to his car antenna.
“Why did you decide now to add the flag to your car?”
“I’ve always had it in my car, just hadn’t put it up yet. Since I can fasten it to the back of the car, I’ll do it now.”
“Would you like to have more plum juice?”
“Do you think it’s too sour?”
“Next time I’ll add more sugar.”
“It doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that you like to drink it. Don’t worry about what anybody else thinks.”