落木 Better Place

 


Photo courtesy of 高雄市立美術館


《落木》為置於壁龕的兩本相同的書;內容由分別始自書前後的兩列表組成,其一列出台灣1000日(2020年1月21日至2022年10月16日)內各日COVID-19死亡個案,其二顯示同期台灣其他死亡,但未列出,僅按比例留下空白。2020年1月21日為台灣首起確診之日。

新冠疫情下,虛擬和實體世界重要性大幅增長,人們加倍仰賴科技互動,並與超越自身感知的群體形成共同體,同時,實體接觸因稀缺而更顯珍貴。疫情記者會成了例外狀態的固定儀式,為瞬息萬變的世界提供安定感,卻終究無可避免地被重複本身強化的無意義吞噬:生命化為一連串代碼,死亡淪為持續波動的數字。我試圖留住最後痕跡,害怕若非如此這些逝去就真的無意義了。

作品名《落木》取自「假如一棵樹在森林中倒下無人聽見,它有沒有發出聲音?」的提問,回應今日經驗和現實普遍斷裂的情況。書籍賦予不可見者可觸的實體形式,透過內容與材質構成的想像循環(不存在/存在、落木/紙),在每次翻閱召喚缺席,透過「台灣這段經歷」和「閱讀時間」的交織,避開視作品為單一整體的風險,許諾時間開展,亦拒絕視之為紀念碑的期待,將時間控制權——紀念的責任——交還觀眾。列表體現了時間和個人在現代被切割、壓縮、均質化的狀態,卻也抵抗分配焦點和敘事的暴力,並遙相呼應其古典時代的助記功能,彼時列表多出現於建築周圍,按順序呈現演講元素,方便人們沿建築漫步時記住。壁龕彌合作品邊界與建築,錨定作品,使之藉可複製的書籍形式以廣泛傳播,且確保美術館內外各冊皆具同等價值、可相互替換的同時,不會喪失傳統藝術形式向內集中的優勢和因此而生的踏實與確切感,更獲得其難以奢求的歸屬感。「一」隱含某物身為偶像的特殊地位,「二」則凸顯前述暗示的虛幻,歌頌關係、平等和悖論:「相同」始終是只存在抽象中的概念,真實——無論多麼相似——都仍獨一無二,因而無可取代。

謹以此作獻給倒下的樹、離去的人、以及同樣平凡的我們。


落木Better Place* is two identical books. The book consists of two lists: one list chronicles Taiwan 1000 days (21 January 2020 to 16 October 2022) COVID-19 death, and the other refers to other death in the same period but remains blank by proportion; two lists start from different sides of the book. 21 January 2020 is the onset date of the earliest COVID-19 case in Taiwan.

Why create art if not to make the world a better place? Under pandemic, I grasped the “ordinary” loss and moment that may otherwise prove ephemeral.

The title 落(fallen)木(wood) comes from the question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” echoing the pervasive disconnection between experience and reality during quarantine. The form of book gives the imperceptible a tangible body, a body that occupies space/time and carries weight, as well as creating an imaginary cycle of content and material (non-existence/existence, wood/paper), calling for those absences every time one reads it. By interweaving “this period of time in Taiwan” with “read time,” it avoids being seen as a single whole or as a monument, returning the control of time—the responsibility of remembrance—to the audience. Listing embodies how time and individual are fragmented, compressed, and homogenized in the modern world, but it also resists the violence of focus or narrative. Double-sided book structure highlights both COVID-19 death and other death, which seemingly fades away in the shadow of pandemic, and converts linear time of listing into cyclical time of the work.

“One” implies a special status of the book while “two” breaks this illusion, praising relationship, equality and paradox: identicality is a concept that exists only in the abstract; everything, no matter how similar it is to others, still is unique—and therefore irreplaceable.

This work is dedicated to fallen tree, departed people, and ordinary us.


*I reserve the Chinese title because: 1. besides the literal meaning “fallen wood”, as mentioned above, the term 落木 is known in Chinese as “fallen leaf” due to an 8th century poem, where the poet used it to emphasize the contrast between heavinese and lightness and portray his sadness as leaves falling, falling, falling. 2. the untranslatability between two languages reflects the “there is no equivalent” concept as well.