视频:美术馆音乐2号/时间切片/元音乐2号 / 三个乐章的即兴


details of meta music no.2

Time Sections Q & A (《时间切片》问答,中文版在下面)

Luo Wanxiang (referred to as 1 in following text): You have curated “Musiklos” at Goethe Institute Beijing. Some audience commented that many pieces were not music but performance art. What do you think of this?

Yan Jun (referred to as y in following text): First of all, performance art is used as a negative term by many people to mean, “I don’t know what you are doing but I think you are making fool of yourself this is emperor’s new clothes and don’t give me that!” This is rather embarrassing. But I think performance art is in fact a technical term. It is not simply a Chinese translation of an English term. Rather, it is a China-specific expression, a violent artistic form, and a unique result of the combination of performance art, body art, and action art. It can be seen as the contribution some Chinese artists have made to pre-modern and modern art movement. Finally, the concert series I curated, including my own music performance, are all music. They are neither performance art nor theater. Music is not only about sound. Music is the presence of the performers, the participation of audience, as well as the air, background noise, and smell of the entire environment…

L: so… can music do without sound?
Y: music has been stored in every one’s mind. Before the invention of the audio recorder, music played in one’s mind while one read the notation. Even without any musical education, one can still sing quietly in one’s mind by memory. You can hear music while dreaming or release music from your mind under certain insinuation. They might not be a certain melody or concrete sounds, but a feeling of music.

L: Does John Cage’s 4’33’’ say the same thing?
Y: Definitely not. 4’33’’ is to switch one’s focus of attention. Cage asks people to listen to sounds of the environment, that is, he incorporates environment sound into music. The problem is this so-called silence is a clear object/thing. It is neither nihilism nor nothingness. Instead, it becomes a rather loud significance. From this angle, we can say that John Cage is later digested by the middle class, consumed, exactly because he objectifies silence and treats silence as a known object to be analyzed, purchased and consumed. This of course is the characteristic of the new age era Cage lived in.

L: It is the first time I heard such comments on Cage. So you are not asking us to listen to silence? Your music is often without any sounds?
Y: No sounds is no sound; this is different from silence. Silence is a target; only that it was not singled out before. Once it was identified, it becomes something wonderful and valuable. But if there is no sound there is no sound. It is nothing beautiful or ugly. Just like that. We have to stop imposing values to those without any value. I want to add that, when there is no sound, the performer is still present, so are the audience. They embody time. In time, there is this event, which occurs without any particular event happening.

L: We finally reach the topic of time. In your solo exhibition Time Sections in The Bunker, did you say something like this is not music, but an exhibition inspired by the concept of music? Are you going to invite people playing violin in the exhibition space?
Y: There is no violin. You know, I do not play any musical instrument. My own music also rarely uses instruments. Also, recently I tend to reduce my way of making music into very simply methods. For example, sunflower seeds, breathing, facial expressions, plastic bags… one reason is that electronic music performance requires good sound system and a good acoustic space. But many places do not meet the basic requirement. Also, I hope to be able to communicate with the audience more directly. Plastic bags are more direct than a violin, right?

L: why don’t you just gently gaze into your audience eyes? Isn’t that more direct?
Y: okay, this is not impossible. But I would prefer to gaze into my audience eyes neurotically. You will see a neurotic person from my eyes, not the artistic Yan. After all, I still need a concrete starting point, an anchor, a pivot. It might be the most feeble, simplistic or even cheapest music. It just doesn’t sound right to directly talk about the cosmos at the beginning.

L: Is this pivot to lever the cosmos? Time is such a big topic.
Y: Didn’t we agree that we do not talk about the cosmos… time is a very concrete thing for a musician. For example, you didn’t realize that you have played for one hour and thought you only played for twenty minutes when the organizer cut the electricity. Another example, the structure of set-up, development, confrontation and resolution in music is a time structure. If you don’t have this structure, you probably will confuse your audience. For example, within one hour you do not play anything or you just repeat one monotonous sound within five hours. By doing this, you can keep your audience focused; they will experience a kind of weightlessness, like floating, or a particularly kind of tactile feeling. This is experience, or feeling. Concept is instinct.

L: How does concept become instinct? Isn’t concept a kind of rationality and thinking?
Y: once a concept is expressed, or to put in another way, once a concept is reduced from aesthetic and cultural system, it will be experienced by people through visual, acoustic or linguistic pivots. It is short-circuited with one’s language system. It is the straightest distance.

L: so what is the concept of this exhibition? Is it something that only can be experienced?
Y: this question gives me the kind of dizziness related to classical conceptual art. It felt like going back to New York in the 1960s. I don’t think I am a classicist. Neither am I a disciple of philosophy of language. To put the concept of my work in words or to convert it into another material is not my reality. “Time” is not a word. Isn’t it often said that time is an illusion? We could only experience this concept in illusion; let the body become the maternal body for concept. Body is always the original interface for language. We have to return where language was born. This is reality. The pressure from the society and the confusion caused by sexual desires and my wallet command me to go inside of those spaces and try to stay a bit longer. I have to believe what I want to hear, every sentence, are there, including those I do not want to hear. People should believe in logic and instinct, right? Then doesn’t it make the two things the same thing?

L: This is getting confusing. Are you sure you know what you are talking about?
Y: I am sure at the beginning. But language makes orality free from its speaker. Once it was said, it no longer belongs to me. But I try to be responsible for it. Traveling between the original state and the social state is a rather big thing for a person. You cannot lose your way back. Recently, I become very interested in this independent mode. I am rehearsing for the Labor Sonor music festival in Berlin. It is a music piece with a solo dance, mainly consisting slow motions and shaking. Shaking is the shaking of time without progression. It is language shaking its own legs to the extent of losing control and losing the ability to go anywhere, but it is comfortable in a way.

L: so you seriously want to call these actions dance and then claim that it is actually music? And you move it to art space and say it is not music but an exhibition?
Y: yes. Every time when you move apartments, you re-experience what a home is. If you like, you can change “experience” to “think.”

translated by Adel Wang Jing

时间切片问答

罗万象(以下 l ):你刚刚在歌德学院策划了“不是音乐会”,有的观众说,那里面很多作品都不是音乐,而是行为艺术,你怎么看?
颜峻(以下 y ):首先行为艺术这个词被很多人用来骂人,意思是“虽然不知道你想干嘛但是我想你是个傻逼这叫皇帝的新衣你少来这套”,这真的令人尴尬。其次我想行为艺术其实是一个术语,它并不只是某个外语单词的中译,而是一种只存在于中国的,激烈的艺术形式,它是表演艺术、身体艺术和行动艺术的一个独特的分支,是一些中国艺术家为前现代和现代艺术运动做出的贡献。然后,我策划的那个音乐会,还有我自己的一些音乐表演,都是音乐,不是行为艺术也不是戏剧。音乐并不只是声音,它是表演者的在场,是观众的参与,也包括整个环境的空气、杂音、味道……
l:所以音乐也可以没有声音吗?
y:音乐已经储存在每个人的大脑里了。录音发明之前,人们读着乐谱在大脑里生产音乐,没有受过教育的话,也可以凭着记忆默唱。你也可以在梦里听见音乐,或者在某些暗示之下,释放出大脑中的音乐。它们可能不是旋律或者具体的声音,而是,只是一种关于音乐的感觉。
l:那么约翰·凯奇的《4分33秒》也是这个意思吗?
y:当然不是,这件作品是让人转移焦点,去听环境声音,也就是说,他把环境声音纳入了音乐。问题在于,这种所谓的寂静,是一个明确的客体,它既不是空,也不是无,它变成了一个响亮的意义。从这个角度看,后来凯奇被中产阶级文化吞没、消解,就是因为他把寂静实体化,当做已知的对象,可以分析、获取、消费的对象。当然这也是他所处的 new age 文化的特点。
l:好吧,这还是第一次听到人这么聊。所以你不是要给我们听寂静了?你的音乐里常常是没有声音的?
y:没有声音就是没有声音,这和寂静是两回事。寂静是一个靶子,只不过它可能之前没被人指出来。指出之后它就是美妙的,有了价值。那么没有声音就只是没有声音,既不美也不丑,如此而已。我们得停止为没有价值的事情赋予价值。然后,没有声音的时候,演奏者仍是在场的,观众也仍是在场的,他们承载了时间,在时间里,发生着这个没有特定事件发生的事件。
l:终于说到了时间。这次在掩体空间的个展,“时间切片”,你说它不是音乐,而是从音乐的概念出发的展览?你会请人在展览空间里拉小提琴吗?
y:不会有小提琴,你知道,我不会演奏任何乐器,我的音乐里很少有这些东西。而且,最近我也越来越多地用非常简单的方式做音乐,比如说用瓜子、呼吸、表情、塑料袋……一方面,做电子乐需要好音箱,需要一个声学环境过得去的空间,可是很多场地都太凑合了。另一方面,我希望能和观众直接交流,塑料袋就比小提琴直接,对不对?
l:你怎么不含情脉脉地和观众对视呢,那个更直接。
y:好吧,这也不是不可能。不过我应该更愿意神经兮兮地和观众对视吧。你肯定会从我眼睛里看见一个神经病,而不是一个颜老师。话说回来,我还是需要一个具体的出发点,一个支点,它可能是最微弱、最简化的音乐,或者说最便宜的。你不能一上来就讨论宇宙吧。
l:这个支点是要撬动宇宙吗?时间这个话题还真是很大呢。
y:说好了不聊宇宙的啊……时间对一个乐手来说是非常具体的,比如说已经演奏了1小时,你以为只有20分钟,结果主办人上来把电掐了。比如说起承转合是一种时间结构,但是你没有起承转合,你把大家搞晕了。比如说1小时里什么都没有演奏,或者5小时重复一种单调的声音,但你能让人保持专注,结果就会体验到一种漂浮感,或者特别的触觉之类。这都是体验,感觉。概念就是直觉。
l:概念怎么是直觉了,难道它不是一种理性和思想吗?
y:概念一旦呈现出来,或者说概念一旦从审美和文化中还原出来,就通过视觉、听觉、文字这些支点给人体验到。它和头脑中的语言系统发生短路。它是最直线距离。
l:那么这个展览中的概念到底是什么呢?它也是一种只能去体会的东西吗?
y:这样的提问让我有种古典概念艺术的晕眩,好像跑到了1960年代的纽约。好晕。我想我并不是一个古典主义者,我也不是一个语言哲学的信徒,把作品的概念转述出来,或者转移到另一种材料上去,这不是我的现实。“时间”并不是一个词。不是都说时间是一种幻觉吗?那么我们就只能去幻觉中体验这个概念,让身体成为概念的母体。正如身体始终是语言的原初界面,我们得回到语言生成的场所去。这就是现实,社会带来的压力、性欲和钱包给我的困惑,命令我必须到那些空间里去,尽可能多待一会儿,我要相信我想听到的每一句话都已经包含在那里面了,包括我没有想要听到的。人应该相信逻辑和直觉,不是吗?这两件事不就是同一件事吗?
l:还真是有点绕呢。你确定你知道自己在说什么吗?
y:本来是确定的。但语言让话语独立了,一说出口,就不再属于我了。但我尽量对它负责吧。在生成状态和社会状态之间的旅行,是人的一件大事,你不能有去无回。最近,我对这种独立状态特别感兴趣。我正为柏林的 labor sonor 音乐节排一个作品,这是一个以独舞的形式出现的音乐作品,主要由慢动作和抖动构成。这种抖动就是时间的原地抖动,也是语言自己在抖腿,它失控了,哪里都不去了,而且还挺舒服的。
l:所以你真的是要把这种根本算不上舞蹈的东西称之为舞蹈,然后又说它实际上是音乐?最后再把它搬到艺术空间,说它不是音乐是展览?
y:是的。每一次搬家,都让你重新体验“什么是家”?如果你愿意,也可以把“体验”换成“思考”。