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Yang Jian: A Big Metaphor

29.01.21 - 04.02.21

The anchored boat floats on the Tang Xun Lake, attached to Microneme’s octagonal tower by a thick rope, which runs around a pillar and connects to a sheet of iron anchored in the middle of the space. The water moves the boat around the anchor point, and the sheet iron makes a sound as the tautness of the rope changes. The iron sheet becomes a sensor of the water movement. As well as the visible movement, the water’s invisible undercurrent is detected through a ‘clanging’ sound.

Work originally exhibited: 12.05.19 – 11.06.19

Artist’s Account (21 May 2019)

It was very crazy a few days ago. I spent three days making a big installation, a performance, two workshops and a lecture in Wuhan. To launch this project in Tang Xun Lake, you cannot work alone, you have to report to the fishery staff and get their support. You have to pay them for launching and paddling the boat into the lake for you. The one-month extension cost 60,000 yuan. Finally, we shortened the time to 1 week, 2,000 yuan.

In the name of ecological protection, they took the money from the state to enclose natural resources, rent public resources, and rent them to large companies for activities. No one else is allowed to enter the lake unless they have permission. There is not a single swimmer in this lake, which is the largest urban lake in Asia, and only one or two of boats have sailed it by chance.

The rope crossed a road by the lake. For safety reasons, the rope could only hang down in a limited way, so the boat anchored in the lake could only generate limited vibration. After passing through the 200-meter rope, the force of arrival was already very limited. Therefore, amplifiers were needed to heighten this almost imperceptible movement. What was more difficult was that the environment imposed a huge noise and because the wind was blowing the iron sheet.

This is just like the difficulty that scientists encountered in the early detection of cosmic microwave background radiation, extracting the tiny fluctuation from the huge noise, which explains the origin of the universe. This lake is a sign of China's ecological transformation or industrial upgrading. Generally speaking, it is a sign of mature or advanced urban civilization. However, the operation of this wave of launching costs can let us see the contradiction of thinking squeezing and presenting in different stages of development.

So the whole arrangement process of the work became a sensor.

Artist Profile

Yang Jian was born in Fujian, China. He graduated with an MA from Xiamen University Art College, Xiamen, and was artist in residence at the Rijksakademie Van beeldende Kunsten in Netherlands  between 20019 and 2010. Solo exhibitions include Internet of things at SNAP, Shanghai (2019); A Big Metaphor, Microneme Space, Wuhan (2019); and The Times Impossible to Encounter; The Gaze from a Composite Leviathan, WHITE SPACE BEIJING, Beijing

The Holden Gallery   Microneme

Presented as part of Microneme x Holden Gallery collaborative programme.

Yang Jian, A Big Metaphor, 2019

Interview with Yang Jian

Yang Jian, World Monitor:
Doomsday Has Begun, Yet No Bad Things Happen, 2015

In the background of this performance, TV monitors play surveillance videos from all over the world. Two security guards on duty in the monitoring room are conversing about the end of the day; the absurd presence of a stranger who intervenes from time to time stimulates people's thinking about reality.