⟨ Art ⟩

Six-Part Practice

So Wing Po and Dung Kai Cheung

Words / Vennes Cheng
Translation / Ian Tsang

年青藝術家在大館當代美術館以中藥及當中的物理性,呈現了一場宇宙及個體的交織。

展覽名為《六種練習》,來自中醫世家蘇詠寶以中藥為物料,創作成六組以萬物的不同狀態為名字的裝置:「連結」、「表面」、「散發」、「懸浮」、「流動」及「內面」。視覺部份之外,還有作家董啟章的文字,將視覺符號換成文字,也彷彿一場對字宙、內觀、表面等概念的互相交流,文字既為整個展覽定調,也呼應了從宏觀到微觀的想像。

展覽的第一組作品「連結」。蘇木是觀花樹木,可供入藥,溫暖樸實的磚紅色木枝,也可用作食品及織物染色劑。藝術家把蘇木截成一段段如火柴般的小枝,然後連結成如小時候遊樂場的鋼架設施。人與人、人與事物之間都是連結。董啟章這樣寫:「連結是自然的,無可避免的,萬物之間有引力,有物理的聚合,有化學的親和,有互相需要,有互相依賴,有愛。」當然連結也包括脆弱的一面,但在連結破裂之後,總會有重新相愛、相依及聚合的慾望,於是萬物又回到最初的起點。這組裝置似是整個展覽序曲,後來的不同概念,不論是散發、內外、懸浮等都離不開連結。

作品「散發」讓人聯想到中醫針炙,在橢圓形表面有點點的微弱燈光,背面像火箭。那點點燈光其實是使君子花的花蕾,藝術家把乾花中的花籽除去,以小小燈泡取而代之。像夜空中的群星,它們散發光亮,也連結成星空。散發也包含觀察,群星發光亮也得有人看到這從許多光年以前傳來的星光。「每當個人都在散發,誰人來接收?漫天星輝,如果沒有觀察者,星輝甚至不成表象。」作品與作品之間似在思考各種不同的關係,就像宇宙間各種事物被不同能量牽引拉動,有些事物結束,有些事物卻正在開始。

能量的流動延續事物,像人體的血管,也像人與人之間的感覺。蘇詠寶以千層紙種子造成散發著光芒的巨大管道,這部份是「流動」。千層紙的形狀像蝴蝶,遠看像群蝶伏在管道上。能量從不同接觸在流動,也有內在的流動像血管也如河流,會感到光明、強弱、高低。人們常說:go with the flow,那既是觀察內在流動,也感應個體與外在的能量,於是內、外這兩種概念也在其中流動。

整個展覽好像在談物理宇宙運行的事情,但那六種也正是人類由內至外要面對的狀態,六種練習其實是一體。

At Tai Kwun Contemporary, a young artist uses Chinese medicine and its physical properties to present an interweaving of the universe and selfhood.

The exhibition is titled Six-Part Practice, and So Wing Po, who was born into a family of traditional Chinese medication, uses Chinese herbs as materials to create six sets of installations named after various states of things: “Connection”, “Appearance”, “Emission”, “Suspension”, “Flow” and “Interior”. Apart from the visual component, the exhibition is also accompanied by Dung Kai Cheung’s words. The conversion of visual symbols into words appears to be a mutual exchange on such concepts as the universe, interior and appearance. Words set the tone for the whole exhibition, and also echo imaginations ranging from the macroscopic to the microscopic.

“Connection” is the first set of creations in the exhibition. Sappan wood is a kind of ornamental foliage plant which can also be used as an ingredient in medicine. Its warm and humble brick red branches can also be used as a coloring agent in food and fabrics. The artist first cuts the sappan wood into match-stick like pieces, which are then connected together to form a structure resembling a steel frame found in children’s playground. Links are found between humans, as well as between humans and objects. Dung Kai Cheung wrote, “Connections are natural and unavoidable. There is a pulling force between objects, and there is physical convergence, chemical harmony, mutual need, mutual reliance, and there is love.” Certainly, connection also includes a fragile side. However, after connections are broken, there will always be a renewed desire for mutual love, mutual reliance as well as convergence, and hence, all things return again to their starting point. This installation is a prelude to the whole exhibition, and the other concepts that follow, including “Emission”, “Appearance”, “Interior” and “Suspension”, cannot be separated from the concept of connection.

The piece “Emission” reminds one of acupuncture in Chinese medicine. The oval surface is dotted with dim lights, and its back resembles a rocket. The twinkling lights are actually the flower bud of Chinese honey-suckle. The artist removes the seeds inside the dried flower, and then replaces them with tiny light bulbs. Like stars in the sky after nightfall, they shine, and connect together to become a starry sky. Emission also includes observation. Stars emit light, and thus, people can see the starlight transmitted from many light years ago. “When everyone is emitting, who is the receiver? Under a sky full of starlight, if there are no observers, starlight cannot even form an image.” The creations, between them, appear to ponder upon different relationships. It seems in the universe, various objects are pulled by different energies. Some things end, while some others are just beginning.

The flow of energy extends objects, like blood vessels in the human body and also like the feelings between humans. So Wing Po uses the seeds of the tree of Damocles to create tubes glowing with light. This part corresponds to “Flow”. The shape of the tree of Damocles resemble butterflies, and from afar, it looks like a flutter of butterflies are resting on the tubes. Energy flows, through various contacts. There are also inner flows, like blood vessels and river, and one can sense the light, strengths, as well as highs and lows. People often say: go with the flow. This does not point only to an observation of inner flow,, but also to sensing of selfhood and external energy. Therefore, the concepts of interior and exterior are also flowing within.

The whole exhibition seems to be about the workings of the universe but the six parts at the same time correspond to the interior and exterior states facing human beings. The Six-Part Practice is in fact an integral whole.