德国哲学家海德格尔（Martin Heidegger, 1889-1976）曾在1951年一场「人与空间」的研讨会中，发表他对「营造」／「建筑」（building）作为手段，「栖居」／「安顿」（dwelling）作为目的的精辟思惟。他指出，是「安顿」使「建筑」获得真正的意义；前者是后者的依归，更是后者的本质所在。海德格尔反复强调，建筑是为了让人安顿；同时，惟有当我们得以安顿，才能论及建筑及其实践。
针对「建筑」及其实践，海德格尔提醒我们，不应该把「生产」窄化为一种仅止于产品制造的「活动」；若然，最后即使完成了建物结构，却未触及「建筑」的「本质」。进入当代，随着晚期资本主义所带动的消费主义文化，建筑原本作为文艺创造的一环，没有例外地已经伴随全球化的金融炒作，快速沦为德国批评理论家阿多诺（Theodor Adorno, 1903–1969）和霍克海默（Max Horkheimer, 1895–1973）早在1944年就已批判的「文化工业」（culture industry）概念下的「商品」。ii 诚如阿多诺和霍克海默所言，「文化工业」挟其商品化的手段，创造了一种「惑人」（illusory）的「奇观」（spectacle）。臣服于商品暨其消费逻辑，晚期资本主义操作下的当代建筑，也早已衍化为工业化／标准化的量产商品。具有文化意义或艺术美学的建筑已属少数，量贩批发式的建物成了投机性的金融目标，而且，粗制滥造的产品比比皆是。
程大鹏的「可乐乐园」拟造了看似「创世纪」的伪形，实际却更接近「世纪末」或「末世」的异象。在艺术史上，以「救赎」和「堕落」作为辨别天堂与地狱的意象象征，最经典的莫过于出身荷兰的北方文艺复兴画家博斯（Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1450-1516）于16世纪初期所完成的《人间乐园》（Garden of Earthly Delights）巨作。无论从创世到末世，从伊甸园到失乐园，这整套人类因原罪与堕落，而必须等待终极救赎的大叙事，没有例外地都是出于天主教神学的图像系谱。程大鹏的「可乐乐园」倒是看不出这样的信仰要求或议题演绎。事实上，他所编造的各种图腾式的人形变体，更多地是他在面对中国当代城市的现实时，极为个人而直观的感受。
City Spectacles Lost in Material Desire
— Some Observations on Cheng Dapeng’s Works
Chia Chi Jason WANG
In a colloquium in 1951, German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) gave out his incisive thought that building is the means and dwelling is the goal. He pointed out that dwelling shows the real purposes of building; the latter, building, has the former, dwelling, as its goal and its essence. Heidegger repeatedly emphasized that “[t]he nature of building is letting dwell,” and “[o]nly if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build.”
Although it was after the World War II and Germany was in ruins, with a lot of reconstructions to be done, Heidegger still reminded that “the real plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses.” In Heidegger’s view, the nature of dwelling is to protect and to preserve. Mangrows and gets initiated under the sky, on the earth, and before the divinities. The relationship between the sky, earth, divinities, and man forms the oneness of the four, which we call the fourfold. The basic character of dwelling is to spare and preserve the sky, the earth, the divinities, and man in freedom and peace. So Heidegger wrote that “the real plight of dwelling is indeed older than the world wars with their destruction, older also than the increase of the earth’s population and the condition of the industrial workers.” Nevertheless, he also pointed out rhetorically that “man’s homelessness consisted in that man still does not even think of the real plight of dwelling as the plight.”
Regarding building and the process of its making, Heidegger reminded us not to simply consider “producing” only as the “activity” to make productions; if so, even though we finish the structure, we miss grasping its nature. When it came to modern times, along with the culture of consumerism which was spurred by the late capitalism, and with global financial speculation, building, originally part of artistic creation, soon and without exception became “the commodities” of “the culture industry,” which was critiqued by the German critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) in 1944. As Adorno and Horkheimer commented, along with its commercializationprocess, “the culture industry” created an illusory spectacle. Being subordinate to commodities and the logic of consumption, modern architecture, in the charge of late capitalism, has turned into industrialized and standardized commodities throughmass production. There are few architectural projects that remain culturally meaningful or artistically aesthetic. Architecturefalls prey to financial speculation to construct large numbers of buildings, and low-quality buildings are seen everywhere.
During a panel discussion on the metropolises in China held in Shanghai Art Museum in February 2002, an architecture critic from Beijing frankly brought up that the architecture in Shanghai was marching on the way of “self-demonization.” Besides refusing to buy the fact that Shanghai had turned into a city full of architecture spectacles, the critic also insinuated the dark side of global capitalism. With his words still being heard, despite the fact that there have been plenty of restrictions as being the capital city of China, Beijing still has set foot in the same architecture logic and economic circulation. Architecture is not solving the essential problem of how to make the sky, the earth, the divinities, and man belong together as one. Instead, it has succumbed to commercial activities of global capitalism, and becomethe platform to stimulate or promote commodity transactions. Until now, building has been separated from the dwelling relationship with the human body, the heart, and the spirit; it is more likely to be commodities, which are built to be traded. The commercialization of building also boosts its industrialization and mass production. These productions are not designed out of the aim of dwelling, but as the trading objects of the commercial market, and all use tantalizing material desire as marketing strategies without an exception. In terms of cultural significance and contribution, rather than enlightening the public mind, this kind of building logic causes the alienation between humanity and humanistic values.
When building is lost in material desires, the cities with architecture spectacles show a kind of enchanting sight, which is both real andvisionary; and it transcends the reality like a mirage. Facing the architecture spectacles in contemporary Chinese cities, Cheng Dapeng, having been brought up in Beijing, trained in architecture, and currently running an architecture firm, expressed his views on contemporary Chinese cities and their reality once and again since 2007. Exploring from the perspective of visual arts, he employed immensely large,soft sculpturalshapes made of helium balloon and had them suspended or floated in the air or in midair. By doing so, he meant to think back and comment on the reality.
In January 2007, Cheng Dapeng released his work titled “Weightlessness” in Mochen Architects& Engineers in Xicheng District, Beijing for the first time, showcasing a 60-meter-long balloon in the shape of a whaleskeleton, set 8 meters high above in the sky. In May that year, another work titled “Out-of-Control” was released, in the shape of a black, biomorphic chain structure, tied to the ground and suspending into midair at the outdoor field ofthe Ku Art Center in Beijing. It was obvious that certainlinkages of the chain structure were nearly broken or loosened, creating a visual effect that the links wereseemingly going to fly away. In May 2008, his new work “Landing,” a structure in the shape of a feather with dozens of meters long, was released on the outdoor base of the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre in Beijing. The feather-shaped balloon was placed in the center of the square, as if it was going to land on the floor, but was still drifting in the air--metaphorically hinting the lightness of life. In fact, judging from the titles of the works, “Weightlessness,” “Out-of-Control,” and “Landing,” one already senses the thought or gloom resulted from the digressions of structures, disorders in ethics, or even the loss of values and sentiment of death. Seen from the contextual relationship between Cheng’s works and the locations where they were released, those installations were all based in city spaces, and intentionally formed a kind of dialogue or inter-textual relationship with nearby buildings. When “Weightlessness” was exhibited again in 2008 in other cities in China — Shenzhen and Chengdu — Cheng Dapeng stated his creative motivation clearly: “With Beijing’s city facade changing every day, I just want to express the great shock that the city construction brings to people’s mentalities.” Through the soft sculpture installations he set in the city spaces, Cheng Dapeng confronted the spectacles ofcontemporary Chinese cities with his own artistic spectacles, which at the same time reveal a “paradise lost” condition.
Recently, in his conversation with the curator Xie Suzhen, Cheng consciously pointed out that “urbanization” in fact is “an excessive way of development.” “Urbanization is prevailing” now in China, and “urbanization can only change hardware; it’s formatting people’s life.” Thus, according to Cheng, rapid and immense large-scale development process yields an “ugly” everyday view, which is the spectacle of cities in contemporary China. Given such circumstances, Cheng Dapeng adopts artistic means to unveil people who live inside the buildings. He pointed out that “every building is in fact sets of behaviors of people living in it, after removing the shell of inorganic substance from each individual building; I want to visualize the human behavior.” He emphasized further that “the way to show a city is to show the people living in the buildings of the city.”
As a visual artist, Cheng mainly takes advantage of the language of surrealism and combines with totemic forms. In this solo exhibition, titled “Wonderful Wonderland,” he has interwoven the imaginary as well as virtual sceneries into a topographical landscape. Mixing with aquatic species such as fish, frog and crab, the deformed, mutated, distorted, malformed human bodies are interbred into new species created from variant of the gene. It is more than fantastic and extraordinary. The new creatures even procreate and expand into a magnificently amazing dreamscape occupying the earth, filling the viewer’s eyes with unprecedented visual glamour. Somewhat intriguing is that through the gaze and transformation of the artist, the alienation is not shown by images of human mechanization, hostility and indifference; instead, it returns back to primitiveness and chaos, even in a purposefulanti-reason manner. What fill the space and scenery are all releases of flesh of varieties from the hybrid of human and lower species. It makes one feel like being placed in the midst of surreal scene full of primitive and bare desires. Even more peculiar is thatthe artist appears to depict human beings as having fallen into emptiness, corruption, and decadence, namely, a “post-paradise lost” state; however, what he has represented makes one feel as though he or she is back in the time of great antiquity, in which mythology and totems still rule. Thus, it hideously features a false impression of return to the Garden of Eden.
Cheng Dapentg’s “Wonderful Wonderland” gives out a simulated vision which seems like “Genesis”, but, in fact, resembles more “the end of the world.” In the history of art, the most classic and greatest work dealing with the themes of “redemption” and “depravation,” in an attempt to distinguish paradise from hell, is the “Garden of Earthly Delights,” which was completed in the early 16 century by the Northern Renaissance painterin Holland, Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516). No matter from the creation of the world to the end of the world, or from Garden of Eden to Paradise Lost, the whole narrative of Man waiting for ultimate redemption resulted inthe original sin and depravation is part ofthe iconographical tradition of Catholic theology. However, inthe “Wonderful Wonderland,” one cannot find such religious belief or agenda. As a matter of fact, the various deformed human images delineated by Cheng Dapeng emanate more from his personal,intuitive feelings when facing the reality of contemporary cities in China.
Looking back at the history of Chinese culture, it’s not hard to associate the images of mixed fauna and combination of human and animals to various genies and monsters from the mythological age to the era of legendarysagas,as narrated in the ancient classic, such as Shanhai Jing(The Classic of Mountains and Rivers). Nevertheless, the “Wonderful Wonderland” is set in the contemporary city of spectacle to show various walks of human life in theinner space of buildings. And the multitudinous walks of life are purposely represented in the form of desires. Therefore, it can also be seen as a situation where desires go wild at night whilehuman reason falls asleep. Moreover, those materialized forms of desires are in the majority hybrids of human and lower creatures. Images as such also metaphorically connotes the more primitive and lower desires, which are reminiscent of the similar beings called yaoguai(monsters) as seen in traditional Chinese literature. There is the saying in the classic compilation of legends, short stories and hearsay concerning ghost fiction and all sorts of supernatural phenomenon, titled“Soushen Ji” (“In Search of the Supernatural”),written in the Six Dynasties (4th century AD): “A monster is the materialization of the negative and positive spirits; when the spirit in it is in disorder, the shape of it changes.” It is equally appropriate to describe the variant mutated human species as monsters in Cheng Dapeng’s “Wonderful Wonderland,” for they indeed demonstrate monstrous beings that have changed shapes due to theirdisorder in spirit.
Or one could say even more directly that Cheng Dapeng’s “Wonderful Wonderland” has embodied the spirit of desire and its incarnation. In this peculiar realm, desire acquires a new flesh, which becomes a new cult of fetishism, and consequently transforms intothe shape of a city-state. In the end, the “Wonderful Wonderland” has presenteditself as a spectacle of contemporary materialist world.
The buildingsforming the city come from a multi-party compromise. They are representative of fake urban culture, fake city history & fake city life. As an individual, the human being has nowhere to go & nothing to choose from. They have to be entertained by the visual pleasure conveyed by the ferocious scenes around them. The ceiling of the hall is transformed into an interactive installation to create unusual experience from a changed normal space. In turn, another relationship between the building & sculpture or installation is experimentally explored. The uncertainty & complexity of changes belonging to the installation itself can change almost every fixed element in the constructing space.