"L'essence de la critique, c'est l'attention."*
documentation under reconfiguration
A heavily contextual work which happened during a performance class. In that class we would perform every two weeks based on a prompt. One day I told the class that after working on a project I realized that it was a better fit for the next prompt. So I initiated a vote for the class to decide "whether I am allowed to show that project two weeks later" and claimed that "if I am not allowed then I will do that now. But if I am allowed then I promise that I will perform it two weeks later". I distributed some blank pieces of paper for voting and told people to put their votes on the ground in the middle of us. After the vote count (only two said no to my plea), dear Prof. Werner Herterich, who might be too friendly to make people aware of his factual authoritative professorship, showed us his unsubmitted vote which I unforgivably had not noticed, and asked me what was the "constitutional base" of this vote. A not-so-young man who had stayed at an art school in the US for around six months and could hardly speak fluent English was completely petrified. I simply had never really thought about vote or rather, democracy, in my life before. Werner then initiated his vote for us to decide "if students have the right to determine what happens in the class room" and only two (including me) voted for "no". Werner brought up the regular critique session and I denied my vote as an object of critique for it was not a "work" (it is very funny because no matter how unthoughtful I was back then I unconsciously executed my current aesthetic standard). Nevertheless people talked about vote and democracy and I just paranoically emphasized that I was a simple man, what I had said was real, and I would perform the promised project in two weeks. But, after regaining my consciousness, I just found to keep my words was impossible because the promised project became nonsense (I was not post-modern enough to embrace nonsense) after Werner's intervention (for I designed two possibilities based on the expected binary outcome of the vote for the project which would turn into some meta- or self-referential narrative I was very fond of then). I broke my promise two weeks later and asked a question to the class through a slide presentation: If the content of a promise is a mistake, should the promise be kept? I was indeed surprised by it when I was clearing my hard drive because, despite its messy form, those problems it provoked are deep and difficult which are very much what I am working on nowadays and I would have forgotten that they have such a ridiculous archetype. I felt nervous: have I made any real progress (such a modern[ist] idea) since then? My simple imagination of democracy was really hilarious and almost ironic which means symptomatic. The problem of promise was taken up again in Jirachi and the two keywords in that question — promise and mistake — point to revelation and knowledge respectively. Anyway, I would like to express my thanks to Werner for this lesson and the promised project was called Cloud (which was not intended to echo with the play of Aristophanes [who indeed cares about democracy a lot]) of which the content I completely forget though I know it is surely bad.
I manually run a clock for a period of time. The image here is the second enactment of it. The first version has a rather dramatic opening (hammering the glass surface in order to reach the second hand of the clock) which is not documented.
I run (or at least tried to run) on the ground under which runs the train carrying a cumbersome speaker playing the sound of a train. My friend Tianhui puts an unusual emphasis on it, which is the reason I am still showing it.
* "The essence of criticism is attention." (A. Gratry, Les sophistres et la critique.) I almost forget how I exactly encountered this dictum. It is mentioned in a footnote of the introduction of Philosophy and Law by Leo Strauss as an alternative or antithesis to a kind of intellectual probity which recalls the definition of criticism: "La critique... a pour essence la négation du surnaturel (Criticism has as its essence the negation of the supernatural)."
† "Give ear then, as they say, to a right fine story, which you will regard as a mythos (μῦθος), I fancy, but I as a logos (λόγος): for what I am about to tell you I mean to offer as the truth." (Plato, Gorgias, 523a.) Socrates ended up his argument with Callicles, who clearly was not persuaded by Socrates' reasoning, with this sentence and starts from there a story he made up. In the book on rhetoric, the very rhetorical power of this transiting statement is unignorable. And the pair of concepts — mythos and logos — are more proper than image and text used above in their conventional senses to roughly categorize my works.
My name is Qiuchen Wu. I was born in Shanghai, and live in Chicago now. This is my website and I hope you like it. Write me letters :)