thingworld

ZHANG Ga
Artistic Director / Curator

 

The world is a thingWorld. For without things there would be nothing to describe, to interpret, to comment on, there would be no evocative signifiers that trigger imagination, conjure up representation, neither would there be societies nor cultures. The world is a thingWorld. In Chinese language, the word for “thing” is a compound of the characters East and West, a geographic stretch across the infinite space of two imaginary ends in the ancient mind. Thing is everything.

 

For a long time, this salience of thing has been sequestered in order to foreground the primacy of man. Thing has unequivocally become a mise en scene as that which services the drama of humanity. The plight of thing certainly is a construction of modernity, as a product of the Enlightenment which constituted a new order of things predicated on the subjectum with man as the center and measure of all beings (Heidegger), “ding an sich” (Kant) therefore is a logical fallacy for how else can thing be of any purpose except for that of man? A thing being can only make sense for a human being and has always remained visibly absent, as Heidegger has amply discussed its readiness–to-hand and its subjugated substance until its mishap of presence-at-hand of malfunction, of being kaput reveals the substrate of thing.

 

Thinking thing as thing unto itself (ding an sich) is a precarious proposition, one that agitates the promise of the Enlightenment and of the human subject rendered through the a priori that destines the legitimacy of political constructs and cultural production of the modern world. Although the capital on that account has been long overdrawn by the dissipation of the grand narrative in the wake of the horror of inhumanity, through the postmodern demystification of subjectivity in the wake of gender, racial and sexual struggles and the pluralism purchase of the contemporary, but the dispute has never left the “I and You”, the subjects that immanently assumed power of discourse, the subjectum. The prosecution and verdict have never left the courtroom of the human habitat.

 

Another logic that is skeptical of the Enlightenment axiom, a speculative argument by character is emerging as an antidote for setting the score correct, one that circumvents the vicious cycle of the debate of humanism to extend the subject world to the world of object, the thingWorld is on the horizon. To rehabilitate the lost status of things, to make heard the reticence of things, to restore to its proper place in the human world a thing world, has political consequences and cultural implications. In aligning the animate and the inanimate, organic and inorganic, human and nonhuman, a democratic multiplicity may rupture the stasis fraught of the vehement bickering between idealism and realism in the exegesis of equity. The re-initiation of the thingWorld proclaims a radical ontology of equality. Equality of Everything thus forecloses the interminable contention of subject and object, of the “I and Other” and the repressive corollary therefrom; Equality of Everything suspends the irreconcilable cultural feud waged in the battle of representation and identity whose frivolity is made ever more pronounced in the face of irrevocable global warming and ecological predicament that the hubris of the human world is accounted for.

 

In this re-illuminating endeavor, there has brought into light a hitherto undisclosed reality: the technical reality, of which it is a transduction reciprocally constituted of humanity and technicity, and via this imperative recognition, we begin to appreciate a new world order composed of physical being, technical being and human being (Simondon) of equal bearing. Technology here reinstates itself a liberating potential as thing itself as well as a mediating negotiator between the human world (as human extension) and the thing world.

 

This exhibition shows such promising comingling of a world of actants, as Latour would suggest, of all kinds, animated, alive, present. Technology (as the reciprocal transduction of humanity and technicity) with its initiating modality may be the surprise candidate to turn anthropocentrism on its head: physical being via technical being achieve their own vivid presences, their own agency and autopoiesis, their own generativity, thereby evoking a conative viscerality for the human being. They act and interact, dialogue and monologue, or chorus in the assemblage of the thingWorld. In celebration of thingWorld, there emerges opportunity to reinvigorate the impasse of cultural production that is contingent solely on the premise of human subject with a much-expanded field of operation; there will be a newly found world of discussions, concerns to give rise to new forms of artistic experimentation and a new vocabulary of aesthetic manifestation.

 

Part I  Monologue – Ding an Sich

Part II Dialogue – Ding to Thing

Part III Ensemble – Parliament of Things