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Conversation of Li Shan, Zhang Huang and Wu Liang


Evening of 1 Nov to early morning of 2 Nov 2004

Li Shan(LS): Hello... just testing the sound quality of the recorder. I bought it today and haven't used it yet... (Li Shan turns on the recorder and puts it on the desk)

Wu Liang(WL): Shall we begin? I'm not really used to doing this.

Zhang Huang(ZH): Is there anything you're not used to? (Ha, ha... laughs)

WL: Let's begin.


WL: Let's talk as if we were talking to a journalist.

ZH: You speak first.

WL: Did you meet Li Shan in New York?

ZH: I first knew his works in Shanghai, but I got to know him in New York.

WL: Did you often have serious discussions in New York?

ZH: Seldom. We spent the better part of our time hanging out.

LS: People involved in art tend not to talk about art, while those who don't engage in art - or those think they make art - talk about it all the time.

ZH: Ha ha... So that means that we'll not talk about art but that he (Wu Liang) who isn't an artist will do all the talking. Aren't you degrading the critic?

WL: Whatever is art, you won't talk about it anyway. A few days ago Li Shan told me he was putting out a monograph about his work. He has been making art for over twenty years and has created many works, but he has never produced a publication about his work. The works mainly appear in exhibition catalogues. Maybe, as he just said, artists who have achieved little in art but publish books on their work; why should I? He has seen through everything in painting. This morning when we had a chat, he said that it takes light 0.0000000033564095 second to travel one metre. Just think what a person he is. A few days ago he said he had a dream that he will be a biologist instead of an artist in his next reincarnation. He has fantastic ideas about fish with butterfly's wings and human bodies with the wings of a dragonfly. He thinks that art is forceless. Such a person surely doesn't care if his works are published, or collected by museums. So it's ironic that today he forces us to talk about his work for inclusion in a book!

ZH: Ha ha....

LS: Ha ha....

WL: Ha ha....

WL: Sometimes Li Shan and I talk about news and watch football on TV. He says that the US is crazy (during the presidential election). I, too, like chatting aimlessly. Sometimes I invite a friend over for diner, and occasionally we may discuss problems. For example, when I see a painting and find it interesting, Li Shan would be, well ... he is not modest. He needn't be. We needn't pretend.

ZH: Li Shan should make a good catalogue and get his work in to good museums and galleries. He has two aspects. When I call him by phone, five minutes later I hear a sound, a sound from under the ground, hello... I say, what's up, Li Shan? What's your plan? Oh, yes, OK. Tonight, tonight (ha ha). The difference I sense from his sounds suggests different feelings of the same person. After the deep tone lasts five minutes, whoop! I hear an excited tone. He has been always in two states of mind.

WL: This is his hallmark. He seems drowsy or recently recuperated from an illness.

ZH: Ha ha...

WL: Ha ha....

WL: Somebody's coming? Great! Let's play cards. OK.

ZH: He's like two different people. (laughs.) He is such a man in real life.

LS: I wish we could turn what we talk about into reality. When I returned from US last time, I had a chat with Zhang Huan in the plane. When the plane was flying over the Pacific, (beep! sounds Wu Liang's mobile phone) maybe we were in a favourable airstream we had a penetrating discussion.

WL: I feel the more I know of Li Shan, the less I can understand him.

ZH: Really?

WL: I feel I cannot say anything about his paintings. But I feel they are interesting. This does not mean that I can only praise his works and cannot criticise them because we are friends. We have gone beyond that relationship. But the more I am familiar with his works, the harder it is to comment upon them.

ZH: In the circle of artists and art theorists, all are friends. Seeing an artist's works, few will give an opinion on them. They don't like applying a pressure on the artist with their favourable or unfavourable comments. The most important thing is to have one's own thoughts.

WL: When Li Shan and I talk about his works, we usually talk about problems explored in the works but not the paintings themselves. The artist is always the owner of his works and can treat them in any way he likes: he can make them good if he likes, but he may also deliberately make them bad. I don't think Li Shan is hard on me. Sometimes I say, "Good." but then the good touch is gone because he smears it. (laughs) Li Shan is such an artist. I once said to Sun Liang (well-known artist in Shanghai) that Li Shan deliberately produces poor works. Li Shan did produce some good-looking works to which he didn't add any touches. But sometimes in experiment of new painting techniques he purposely creates bad touches, flaws, and smirches, or deliberately unbalances a balanced composition. The large painting of two walkers was reworked several times. At no less than five stages it could have been a finished painting, but Li Shan covered the painting with new touches and the result was a thickly studded composition. It makes me dizzy to look at it.

ZH: I too had the same impression when I saw Li's unfinished paintings at Wu Liang's place. I like the unfinished paintings better because they look fresher, livelier and truer.

WL: A painting of something that looked liked an insect.

ZH: There was another painting I saw there. Those two paintings are extremely nice. Because in his large paintings more things are finished, things being processed - something accrues when a painting is being processed - are absent. Large works maybe finished according to certain concept about "completeness". The painting you saw shows two people walking. It would be four different works if it were produced the way it looked at each of four stages

WL: It would be interesting too if we took four photos of the painting then.

ZH: Right! I think the painting at those stages is much better than it is now. You will certainly prefer any of the other three.

WL: At some point I found something akin to Egyptian images, I guess, he must think, "You Wu Liang found something Egyptian? I don't want it. I will cover it up." He didn't want me to see Egyptian elements in his painting. Later I said the figure looked like an African and he cover it up again.

ZH: Ha ha...

WL: He doesn't want you to be reminded of any other images.

ZH: That's it.

WL: I don't know his iconography. But I guess he may have his own idea. If an image suggests a type in art history or religion, he will cut the tie between them. He believes his iconography should be isolated. If you compare it with something in an iconological system or history, he will remove it.

ZH: After I saw his "Sphere" (visual signs in Li Shan's early work "Extension"), I thought about his latest photos. I suddenly realise that a man's preference or interests go with him all his life.

WL: You've put your finger on it.

ZH: Yes. I don't think what he is working on is accidental. It's an outcome of his thinking, something unique to him.

WL: Right!

ZH: He's employing a new device. Or we may say his art is more mature.

WL: I saw his "Sphere" in reproductions initially, and then I went to his studio and saw the original paintings. Not many pieces. They all looked rather old.

ZH: Right.

WL: Though they look old and we know they are just planes on the canvas, as we view them at a close range, we see merely a few strokes. We may say they reference traditional Chinese painting. But strange enough, you feel it is alive, it is growing. You don't feel it is an old picture. A simple piece of canvas with two circles on it, incomplete circles with part of it cut off at the edge of the frame. The hairs suggest something expanding. It's strange that in his recent sensory stimulating works he presents human hairs in a human or insect organ. Some collage-like works or combination of pictures, blow up some tactile matters. I know the source of such "hairy" images. He has told me everything. He said he always had physiological reactions to his works just as you do when viewing his paintings.

ZH: Really? I don't think so. My impression of his works is not merely stimulation. I feel, just as you just said, that I have physiological reactions to his works. I feel a freshness and vitality in his works. In today's arts, very few keep thinking like Li Shan does. Most arts have become commercialised, repeating themselves over and over. He is quite different. It's great. It's a commendable spirit. Gao Minglu (well-known art critic) says that of the artists who began to engage in contemporary arts in their early stage, very few still hold on to a vital enthusiasm and creativity.

WL: Let me say something more. The painting of two walkers was created over a long time. I almost went there every day and I saw a different picture every day. At first the two figures wore unbuttoned Sun Yatsen (Mao) jacket and looked funny. Later he covered them up. He thought Sun Yatsen (Mao) jacket pointed to a certain period of time and certain geographical location. It suggested of China and a certain era. He said this pointed to a definite time and area.

ZH: In which year did he create that painting?

WL: The painting of two walkers was perhaps created in 2003. Now the figures are nude. Once they were dressed.

ZH: Yes, they were.

WL: It was funny. If he finished his work that way, the result would be too bad. He realised it. He was determined to rid his figures of temporary and geographical features. He hates to suggest China in art though what he depicts are clearly Chinese people. We say they are Chinese, but Li Shan does not mean to state that they are Chinese. Maybe he does not purposefully represent universal humanity as I said. But he is against the geographical and temporary features of images.

ZH: He removed the Sun Yatsen jacket from his painting. This may have some relation with the Chinese signs found in his earlier series "Rouge".

WL: He opposes mocking, or political and ironical interpretations of his visual signs.

ZH: He is different from his former self.

WL: There are some details of which I have not talked with him. Sometime I asked him a question and he would say "Really?" I don't know if he was being modest or feigning ignorance. Take the large painting, the body has a trunk and two hands hold large red flowers, and the flowers grow from the end of genitals. From the trunk you cannot make out the nationality of the person, because it has no face. And his back reveals a diminished human frame. In his early political-pop portrait of Mao Zedong, the motif itself determined the nationality of the portrayed figure in his painting, because you can't say Mao is not Chinese. But now where he has overstepped this limitation, he has produced many portraits of single figures whose gender is unclear. It's odd. Maybe he had some physiologically upsetting experiences. The man in his painting has a man's breast but his penis is very thin. Looking closely it turns out to be a caudal vertebra. This image is shocking. I don't know if he produced this effect intentionally.

ZH: That's the question.

WL: It's an abhorrent male nude.

ZH: Is it this painting?

WL: No. What he showed me was not this one. But this painting is like that one. The figure facing front looks like a bust, but as you look at the lower half you see a penis without testicles. The penis is very thin, somewhat like a bone in the caudal vertebra, an atavistic organ. The abdomen is round but has a spinal. Namely, the lower half of the body shows the backside and the upper half shows the front side. He has produced many such works. He is not a surrealist. I suppose he has many strange ideas in his head.

ZH: Right. He is from the Northeast of China, but he is far more sensitive than other people. I have seen his early works like the hairy sphere. The earliest of his works I saw were displayed in an exhibition in Shanghai in 1987.

WL: It's the first exhibition of bulgy [/protruding?] pictures.

ZH: They are a number of still-lifes in bulky frames. The pigments piled up as high as three centimetres.

WL: That's not the exhibition of bulgy [protruding?] pictures.

ZH: His works made the deepest impression on me. My understanding of his art began with his series of "Rouge", and proceeded to his works about human body, animals and insects and finally his photos. These three stages are distinct. The prologue of his art was his presentation in China Art Gallery in 1989. I didn't know him when he was washing his feet there. After I got to know him, I read about the work in the China Art Gallery. I began to see him in a new light. I never realised that the old man was once so frantic in his youth that he brought the whole contemporary China into a foot-washing movement. On the second stage he created works related to the human body, like a body full of fish. He employs painting as a vehicle for conveying his ideas, and this is akin to my thinking mode. I, too, make performances. We use different means of expression.

WL: What is the internal relation between your art and Li Shan's?

ZH: The similarity is that we both focus on the body. But we show concern for the body in different ways. He shows more concern for issues relating to sex (gender) while I pay more attention to experiencing how the body can be controlled (manipulated). That's the difference.

WL: I think you have answered my question clearly. You have worked constantly with the body. I remember that before the mid-1980s he produced paintings of human figures and animals. One of his paintings had a dramatic background. It's nothing strange, and does not necessarily have a clear relation to academic education, because paintings usually have a background, a scene, something of real life or something else. [Such paintings] show figures doing something, or animals or still-lifes. If we categorise his work, the early works reveal the influence of (Henri) Rousseau, Fauvism and Post-Impressionist paintings. This stage passed soon. Over a period of time he was obsessed with symbolism or motifs transplanted from rock painting on Jiangjun Yan (General Rock) directly, without elaborating on them. Maybe these things, including the "Hairy Sphere", greatly stimulated him. I have never understood the motivation behind his "Hairy Sphere". Because I didn't know him personally when he produced the works. Then I knew him but had never talked with him directly, and so didn't know what he was thinking about or reading. I knew him better after 1989. When he got to know me, he was focusing his attention on the body, sex, politics, homosexuality, the relationship between politics and sex, politics and suppression and problems about power. The power he was concerned with is not violent power, or basic human rights, but that of powerful political figures. The works he produced prior to the later pieces of his series "Rouge" were later interpreted as political-pop paintings. The series "Reading" he is working on now is said to be a genetic and biological interpretation of his theme. In his creation his attention has gone beyond the human body and reached the realm of animals, like fish, cold-blooded animals, insects like butterflies. Occasionally he depicts humans too, but these human are hybrid with animals. people may appear on the body of an animal, and vice versa. The difference between his art and yours is that in your art you are both the creator and the work per se. You are in your works. Your soul is in the medium of your works. You experience your works in the medium. On the other hand, Li Shan is conceiving his works. He is producing his works. He projects his ideas onto the canvas or onto a photo or something else. This is a big difference between you and Li Shan. His works are objective, whilst you play a role in your works. Your works not only present themselves, but you are playing a part created by yourself in your works. You are experiencing your role while realising your work. Li Shan does not work this way. He has wild imagination and the wild imagination is projected through a painting that is executed bit by bit, day by day.

ZH: Right! Those who do not engage in art talk about art a lot.

WL: That's the difference.

ZH: Just as you said, he is full of imagination.

WL: Many of his works cannot be experienced in reality.

ZH: Right!

WL: Say, he puts the back to the front.

ZH: Ha ha....

WL: Ha ha....

ZH: He is attempting to create the impossible, things that cannot be realised, at least at present, and perhaps for many years to come. We talk a lot about this. I am making some installation works related to animals, about presenting the imagination through visual images to scientists, and asking them to attempt to create such things [impossible creatures] in their labs. The result may be a freak, a new monster. After our conversation, we called a biologist; the answer was "impossible", because human genes and bovine genes are mutually repulsive.

WL: Right.

ZH: Such a combination is impossible. Besides, out of ethical considerations, the world is against such experiments.

WL: Li Shan said something years ago and I put it into my book. It concerned an extremely reactionary scientist, whose nationality I've forgotten. Some people worry that cloned human may become extraordinarily vicious. Li Shan asked, "Aren't today's humans vicious? All evil is committed by man. I'd ask which evil is done by a cloned human?" (Ha ha ...) At that time he became a protector of scientists. Actually he is anti-scientific. Interesting.

ZH: You're absolutely right. Humans are afraid that cloned beings will turn against them. Two weeks ago Arnold Schwarzenegger stated in a speech support of a Californian law that permits scientists to conduct comprehensive research on genes, and approved an investment of three billion US dollars for the research program

WL: So he supports it?

ZH: Yes.

WL: Because he played the part of a cloned human.

ZH: Yes. Seeing my work produced in New York City by wrapping myself with beef made all my artist friends think of Schwarzenegger.

WL: Did you try to create all anatomical features?

ZH: Yes.

WL: All the muscles?

ZH: Yes.

WL: It was a body made with fresh flesh.

ZH: Fresh meat. When I produced it, I had a friend who knew body-building. I knew anatomy.

WL: Beef was applied to imitate the muscles on your body.

ZH: We managed to produce a nice piece.

WL: Your face was intact, but your body wrapped.

ZH: Yes. A difference between Li Shan and us is that he likes to use the word "wonderful". He describes a man or woman as "wonderful". He uses the word in a different way as we do. When we say a woman is wonderful, we usually think of sex, but he uses the word to convey a concept of beauty in fantasy.

LS: Really? I haven't noticed.

ZH: Why not? (Ha ha ...) This is his characteristic.

WL: He imparts many meanings to the word "wonderful". You remind me of his use of the word. When we are happy, he says it's wonderful. When we play cards, he says it's wonderful.

ZH: When I saw his photos for the first time, I was excited. When I saw the frog, I thought it was really beautiful! Against a grey background, the two eyes looked queer. I couldn't tell what they looked like. I said they looked like human anus. He said, "Stop nonsense. They are my mouth."

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: Ha ha ...

ZH: Wow! That's sexy. My reaction is that it's sexy but his reaction is that it's wonderful. We have different reactions. It is sexy though. The pink colour is sexy.

LS: The next step in our plan is to make a living frog of that type. A frog with eyes that are shaped like Li Shan's mouth. Its belly will be like that of Li Shan too.

ZH: Its eyes do look that way.

LS: Crossbreeding is a common practice. Li Shan and a frog cannot have intercourse. A feasible plan is to employ genetic engineering. At least it's theoretically possible. Through genetic engineering we can have new species of life from human and insects, human and plants, and from human and fungus. All these are lives. We certainly can find a joining point of those lives.

ZH: This is our wild fantasy.

WL: What scientists cannot produce, you can. At least scientists cannot put butterfly's wings to a fish. Fish can only have its fins and tail but not butterfly's wings. We can put them together in a painting.

LS: No. I'll produce the real thing. I'll ask scientists for help.

WL: If you can ask a scientist to produce that thing, the scientist will be a vicious scientist. Li Shan likes the fruit of evil, not normal things. When we are with Li Shan, he treats his family and friends in no way different from other people, but in artistic creation he is mad. He has fantasies. Normal things do not please him. Only abnormal things please him. He does not like the down-to-the-earth, traditional works done by his students and some famous artists. He holds such works to be too conformable for teaching purposes, for the syllabus, and too classical. He praises art that is generally considered poorly executed, ugly and lacking skills. He does not do this on purpose. He is abnormal.

ZH: It's wonderful. On the plane we said if scientists could not produce such things in their labs, we could produce them in other ways, say, by way of cinematography or television.

WL: In virtual ways.

ZH: Virtually or materially, we'll make such things real in a wider range.

WL: Why should Li Shan produce such things? Why should you add a butterfly's wings to a fish? We seldom find it necessary to ask such questions, because a painting is an artist's work. Now that you make it a task of biological study, we'll ask you for what good you add wings to fish? Wings belong on a bird. Of course they are flying fish, but generally speaking, it's meaningless to put a butterfly's wings to a fish. Are you dissatisfied with God's creation? Do you want to create new species?

ZH: You think it beautiful to transform spider's head and belly into your testicles.

WL: I want to know why.

LS: How can it be beautiful if it does not change into a testicle or have wings?

WL: You're not content. You are never content. He wants to change the order of the world. He wants replace something in it. He's like a hacker. A hacker doesn't feel pleased if he dose not destroy the normal order of the world. The world as it is does not please him. He means to substitute things in it, instead of taking anything from it.

ZH: That's it.

WL: When I was a child, I heard my father talk about a bad neighbour. One day he ate a cake and then defecated in a box. Then he sealed the box and put it in the middle of the road.

ZH: Really?

WL: Yes. Then he returned to his house and watched through his window. There came a rickshaw. Who had dropped a cake, the rickshaw puller wondered. He picked up the box and put it in his rickshaw. Then he ran away.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Li Shan certainly would say, "Wonderful! It's ingenious."

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: It's a practical joke. There are practical jokes in Li Shan's art.

ZH: You can say it's a practical joke. You can also say it's an original idea. They exist side by side. Many things coexist. So do wonderful things.

WL: Ha ha..., amusing.

LS: The truth is that God does not keep abreast with the time.

ZH: Ha ha. ...

LS: As the Creator, he keeps unchanged. That's the problem.

WL: The substitution in his art is a mutation. It shocks us, or, causes a psychological reaction in us. For example, it's too normal for testicles to grow under the penis. They are always there and it's nothing strange to see them there. If they are absent from there, it's abnormal. To put it in a simple way, if the testicles appear in a place they should not appear, say, they appear on fish's eyes and the fish's eyes do not have apples, or lips appear on a frog's eyes, he is content. When we draw a portrait, the mouth always is under the eyes and nose. If there is something other than mouth under the eyes and nose, he is satisfied. Because that is Li Shan's creation. Eyes and nose are created by God and passed down from one's parents.

ZH: If we view Li Shan's works from the angle of their internal, deep conceptions, we'll find that he is not satisfied with his own body. He wants to change it. In an enlarged sense, he is unsatisfied with the human body in general. He displays two large flowers in his painting, and put a caudal vertebra in the place of the genitals. He likes the transmuted things.

WL: It's subconscious.

ZH: Yes. It's subconscious. Should the testicles have a new place? Isn't it dull for them to always hang below? Ha ha ...

WL: And they never see the sunshine.

ZH: Why can't we make from them earrings hanging on wonderful women's earlobes? Ha ha ...

WL: He wants to overturn the visual order. The visual order determines the places for images, just as certain social occasion determines out speech, or certain places determines out conduct. He wants to overturn this order.

ZH: He wants to change it. Change is an existence.

WL: I will not put it where it is supposed to appear. Just as I said before, it's strenuous labour to produce a good painting. I will bungle it so that I appear to be a poor painter.

LS: If I take what you've said, what in this world pleases me?

WL: Li Shan is extremely anti-cultural. In the middle part of the 1980s, Shanghai was an active place. People belonging to different fields read and discussed. They read translated books like the series "Toward the Future". I suppose you read such books. At that time popular booklets about the systems theory, biology, physics, the Big Bang were read. Literary, dramatic and cinematographic workers and artists in Shanghai had their saloons. New circles of artists were formed. Many found the original circles dull. They go wherever people talked about new ideas. They like to talk and read together. Li Shan talked about his thinking on culture. At that time I felt Li Shan was anti-cultural. He did not like rational and clearly explained things.

ZH: When I talked with Li Shan about art works, he said that we had worked and worked for a long time and wondered what was interesting, painting or installments or waxworks. The really interesting things are the monsters alive and kicking. They touch the viewers deeply.

LS: Those are our end products.

ZH: When the works are produced, Wu Liang, one or many living imbecile monsters are displayed in a gallery, I want to see how the viewers respond to them. The exhibits are creatures, not conventional art works. What do you say?

LS: When I produced the fish and butterfly in New York in 1998, I said that compared with art works in the past, my art had the unique feature that they were physiologically generative and artistically reproducible, and they were hereditary. They can give birth to entirely identical images and as a transmutation of genes occurs, the new-born picture may be even more vital than its parents. Interestingly, such works have sexual desire, sexual capacity and sexual vitality.

WL: Li Shan, have loved science since your childhood or did you develop the interest later? You taught in a drama school during the 1969s and 1970s. There were many science books then. Were you interested in them?

LS: When I was a child I loved to watch the starry sky, especially on winter nights.   Winter nights in the north are extremely cold. I would sink into meditation. Then I looked for the constellation to which I belonged and try to figure out what relations were there between the magnitude and position of the stars and my destiny. I didn't know if that was science or pseudo-science. When I was in high school, I loved mathematics and physics. Later because of a minor incident I was suspended and stayed at home reading novels. When I studied at Heilongjiang University, I fell physically uncomfortable, even the bed was uncomfortable. I had to quit school and turned to art. Thus I came to Shanghai. I loved to read popular science. For biology I read textbooks from the Biology Department of Fudan University. A textbook is not like a popular book. A good popular science book leaves room for the imagination, but a textbook contains only theories and descriptions of experiments.

ZH: Li Shan's sign, his sphere, the spheres in his new works and the dinosaur egg are one thing. The dinosaur egg is fake, right? I've never seen such a large dinosaur egg. I saw five or six joined eggs.

WL: I don't care if it is a real egg or not ... The practical joke as I said is not a practical joke in its common sense. It is a practical joke in the subconscious. I don't mean he is mischievous in life. People hold that art is something for a fine taste.  He deliberately produces something disharmonious that puzzles others. His colleagues want him to create something pleasing to the eye, but he shows them something ugly on purpose. Sometimes he too displays his skills by doing something pleasant to the eye. Li Shan once said that he could paint better with his foot than some artists do with their hand.

ZH: Ha ha ...

LS: It's a psychological or physiological need.  Hello, Li Yang! Me? I'm chatting with Zhang Huan and Wu Liang about my work and thinking. How is our discussion going? Well, none of us is normal. We all love practical jokes. A moment. (Li Shan hands the listener to Zhang Huan)

ZH: Hello! When I returned to Shanghai, I have my motherland. I feel assured. What a teeming city New York is, I feel lonely there. I feel empty. Here I live a full life even if I do nothing.

WL: You were an outsider in the community you belonged to.

ZH: But now I have come back to my community. I feel great.

LS: What the date today?

WL: The first of November. The second will come soon. Zhang Huan is sleepy.

ZH: I'm OK.

LS: Works should have a deep meaning, a speech with a deep meaning, I never know how to produce deep works.

ZH: Curators stress that an exhibition must have a theme. But as an artist, I am invited, and I do what I like to do. I never care what the theme is. Even for the work you ask me to do for you I will not consider what a theme it carries. During the Cultural Revolution art had a theme. Nowadays exhibitions have no themes.

LS: What a lousy theme "Shanghai" or "Haishang" is? What is "Shanghai"? What is "Haishang"? ["Haishang" is alias of "Shanghai". The school of the famous Shanghai artists Ren Bonian and Wu Changshuo are called Haishang School. It was the title, or theme of the Shanghai Biennale 2002?]

ZH: The theme is a pretext for fund raising. You must give the text of your plan and only then can you get money. It's a pretext.

WL: When Li Shan and I lived together, I was impressed by his paintings, but I could not put my feeling into words. Maybe your paintings refuse to be interpreted. But since your works impressed me, interpretation was no more necessary. Some people might have a theoretical background, others might be experienced in appreciating paintings, others might find an emotion resonance with the works, and still others might misinterpret them. But everyone had an experience. The huge painting I have just mentioned (which one???) certainly has impressed and attracted many people. Some like it and others don't. They may tell stories about the painting and some may suspect that some stories are just their impression. That would be interesting. Some may say you're no more than a farmer and you are rustic and it would be interesting if you return to the time of thirty years before. (This happened in an exhibition in Oct 2004 in Liu Haisu Gallery, Shanghai)

ZH: Yes. It would be interesting if you turned the clock back thirty years.

WL: But that is not an interpretation. What do you mean? Are your works farmer's paintings? Absolutely not.

LS: What if it is an interpretation? What if one says that Mondrian's squares contain the structure of the world and that the red, yellow and blue are basic substances? Is it an in-depth one?

WL: It's nonsense.

ZH: All such criticism is nonsense.

LS: Yes. Even Mondrian's abstract works are just so-so, not to say the abstract art after him.

ZH: The well-known grand old American artist Richard Serra creates works using angled sheets of long and thick steel. This is indeed a profound work. I see him take off the roof every time he installs an exhibition, because otherwise his mammoth works cannot be brought into the gallery. After a two-month exhibition, the works will be pulled down. He spends 500,000 dollars for such an event.

LS: The term "profound" should be removed from our vocabulary of art criticism and artistic creation.

WL: Being "profound" is a swindle. For example, you can build a usable house and it's simple. If you build a complicated house, the interpretation of the house and of its use will be complex too. One talks about it in a roundabout way and cannot reach an understandable conclusion. One impart to a simple thing lot of qualities that do not exist at all or are superfluous.

ZH: You mentioned Mondrian. This may be a nation's cultural strategy. Why they boost so many masters and stars? Why after Joan Miro the Spanish government put out Tapies? This shows a country's cultural strategy.

WL: A culture needs a representative figure.

ZH: From the angle of global culture and from the angle of commerce, all successful masters and artists have a hand behind them to push them. In his early years de Kooning sold many of his works. Then the purchasers vigorously promoted him and thus raised his value. There is utilitarianism in this. It pushes the cultural mechanism and museums to make "successful" art more profound. This is a false profundity in art history.

LS: I think what matters is the charm of the image, the language and vocabulary.

ZH: The work from sheet steel is a good one.

LS: But how will you describe it in a "profound" meaning?

WL: To the end of the day, the value of art is not in its profundity.

ZH: Good art has its charm. The large and thick steel plate propped obliquely has its huge weight. It's irreplaceable. When it appears in a square in front of New York city hall, it shows the charm of the language it employs. But if you try to explain it, it becomes something else, which is imposed on it by Man.

WL: A steel plate or a painting, say Mondrian's painting, stands there and some people insist that they are something other than themselves. They try to argue that there is a very complicated theory behind the works. I find Mondrian's works simple and beautiful. Even if you say it's not a painting, it's all right.

ZH: What is it if not a painting? Ha ha ...

WL: Today people can't live without interpreting art works or without making up stories about art.

ZH: It's true.

WL: There is a story to clothes. What is the brand? Which fashion model wears them, who designed them. All are commercial myths. Does it have any merit? Yes. But too much is added to it. The added value has nothing to do with its quality. It is promotion, advertisement plus many myths and many, many stories. People need hypnotism. We needn't say that theories are absurd or superfluous. Engagement in theory is a profession. Today society is compartmentalized. Some engage in culture, some engage in science, and some people are presidents of states. They do not necessarily know music or fine arts. But they feel they are on a par with us, since we are all famous people and all need comments from others. He knows you're a layman and I am a specialist. I monopolise the right of interpretation in this line. I may be an antique dealer, a fashion designer or an architect. I have my jargon that you don't understand. Within my circle everyone knows that jargon is used to hoodwink outsiders. Outsiders do not have a voice. People of the same occupation sometimes criticise each other. Enemies are found among people of the same profession. Outsiders just watch art for fun and they are ready to flatter anyone that appears within their field of vision. For them, every artist is a master and every businessman a magnate. But there are conflicts among enterprise managers: what so-and-so says is shit.

ZH: Ha ha ....

WL: People need such stuff. What can people do? Nowadays the social production force is fully developed. In terms of basic need such as food, one person can support thirty. But the other twenty-nine cannot stay idle. So they complicate things, like clothing and houses. Complication of things provides work opportunities.

ZH: American cigarette (offers a cigarette to Wu Liang)

WL: USA-made cigar. Now it fills Li Shan's room with smoke.

LS: A rare occasion for me.

ZH: I bought a newspaper about real estate. It says in the coming twenty years, the house price of Shanghai will be thirty, twenty and ten thousand yuan. It means that an ordinary house will be sold at a price of thirty thousand yuan a square meter in downtown, and what about the twenty?

WL: In the area within the middle ring road, the price will be twenty thousand yuan a square meter. In the area of the outer ring road, the price will be ten thousand yuan a square meter. This is an aim for the coming twenty years.

WL: How many years?

ZH: Twenty years. Sixteen to twenty years. The goal will be attained except for three hazards: earthquake, war, or recession.

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: When there is an earthquake, needless to say, everything is out of order and people escape. In a war, people flee too.

LS: And an epidemic causes the same danger too.

WL: All of those may cause local problems. On the whole China's economy will not recess within a short time to come. For example, Shanghai is undergoing rapid development, so is Beijing and Hangzhou. On the other hand, one cannot measure the economy of a place with the national economy as a yardstick. A bad national economy does not indicate to a bad economy in Shanghai. We'll not say what a place Shanghai is, or what an impression of the city people had in the past. We'll not say it is a city of manufacturing industry. It is a place of investment. It is financial centre like Hong Kong. When people turn their eyes to the city, they come with a lot of money. Their purchasing power cannot be measured with the per-capita income of Shanghai people. That is one thing. The other thing is that they put their money in luxury houses. The building land for such houses is very expensive. They want a good location and property developers start their business with this need in market. So as long as you can build a good house, you are sure to have a buyer no matter how high the price is. If you can sell your house, you can make money. Then the property developers will buy good building lots at higher prices. Who makes money in this transaction? The government. Government must keep a high price of building land. With income from the building land, government will be able to appease those households that have to be relocated. Those households know the policy of Shanghai government that one cannot force a household to move away to make way for a new building. The price is already very high and with the foreign investment the price becomes higher. The households that have to be relocated get a large sum of money by selling their old house and the money they make spurs the market of low-grade houses. Today many Shanghai people have two houses. The old house is rented out or left idle, waiting for state to come and pay for it for some purpose. What will be Shanghai like in the future? Not to say China. Needless to say, war is a trouble. But there it makes a difference where the war breaks out. Say, it breaks out in Afghanistan, there will be no problem for China. The separatists of Xinjiang will not cause a big problem. But if there is a war in the southeastern coastal region, say in Taiwan or on the Korean peninsula, China will be affected. Wars in Southeast Asia may affect China. If China has some trouble in international relations, or there is a serious conflict between China and another country, foreign investors' interests in China will be affected and they will withdraw, leaving behind an empty ground. There were such calamities in the past. Besides, there may be global economic recessions, but that will not be problem for China alone, but for the world. In a global recession governments tighten control over finance and investors withdraw their capital. Needless to say, all is in bad shape. At present house prices are rising and we are in a virtuous cycle of development. We are a bit shortsighted. China's economy may have problems, though we don't know when.

ZH: Shanghai will not have a problem. No.

WL: Why not?

ZH: All-round economic recession is out of the question within ten to fifteen years.

WL: Except we have some big trouble.

ZH: That's it. China has so big a population. The young people leave their home to find a job and change their destiny. Where will they realise their dreams? Their first choice is Shanghai, and next, Beijing.

LS: To come to Shanghai they don't need a passport or visa and there is no language barrier.

WL: One needn't learn Shanghai dialect. It has become a language of minority.

ZH: A friend of mine working in an intermediary institution told me that one of her friends was 27-years-old and came from another place. His father managed a printing company. After the father died, he inherited two million yuan. Four years ago he came to Shanghai with the two million and invested. Do you know how much has now? Two hundred million!

WL: What does he do?

ZH: He speculates in real estate.

WL: Two million turned into two hundred million?

ZH: From buying and selling, buying and selling.

WL: He usually pays only the initial payment.

ZH: He is a bold and careful man. At the same time he is a man of his word. He has good credit and has good relationship with banks. In short, he shares his interests with others. If you work in a bank, a friend gives you profit and naturally you'll give him loans.

WL: He's hatching chickens with a borrowed hen.

ZH: For a house that is worth a million, I pay only a hundred thousand, and for the remaining part I take a bank loan. You're an intermediary. You tell me there is a good house. I say I want it and pay you double the fee. I don't want the best house to be sold to other people. I pay you double fee. You certainly come to me. I pay you five hundred thousand first. But I don't pay the full sum to buy the house. I then transfer the house to the third party. You take a fancy to the house before I buy it. Then my agent tells you that the house sells at two million and five hundred thousand. This way I make five hundred thousand. He works in this way for four years, at a time when Shanghai was experiencing a craze of house selling.

WL: A smoker now? (offers a cigarette to Li Shan. Li Shan takes it. Wu Liang means that a few months ago Li Shan smoked once.)

LS: I have smoked just this once in Shanghai.

WL: Only once. In life Li Shan is mysophobic.

ZH: Yes, he is mysophobic.

WL: But in art sometimes he intentionally gets into mischief. He is mysophobic also in art. His mysophobia is perfectionism. He measures art with perfection. This just means that he has opinions different from others'.

ZH: The other day I saw a Malaysian youth. He is a 20-year old student. He works hard and is a successful fashion designer. Many rich women and stars including the Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi buy his products. Many male designers are homosexual. So is he. I asked him when he had become aware of his homosexuality. He said he did when he was 20. He says his mother is particular about her appearance. I asked him if he played the male or female part in homosexuality. He replied that the question was not to the point. He said it was like taste for food. When you ate pickled vegetables for some time, you'd like to change your diet. When we two are together, I play the woman. When I am with Li Shan, I play the man. It's shifting. He is playing. Ah, it's an artwork, not sex. That is what he feels. This is an interesting discovery in the circle of fashion designers. It seems only homosexuals can design different things and only they can grasp peculiar beauty. It's difficult to put the popular thing into word. The designer is born sensitive.

WL: The point of vision is that we don't talk about man's or woman's eyes. It seems that the man is always hard and virile and likes gentle women, while the woman always likes gentle things but loves sexy, masculine men. This is in common vocabulary. As for homosexuality you mentioned a moment ago, there are male homosexuality and female homosexuality. A male homosexual looks at women with a different eye. His appreciation of women has nothing to do with sex, but sexually he has a propensity for men. A lesbian looks at men from a special angle. She may like a manlike woman but she does not like a man who is very feminine. We can hardly find this subtle difference, but they can. What we see is different from what women see. There are too many such things in our life. For example, my wife Qiu Xin does not like the smell of tobacco, but many women I met with like and none of them object to my smoking. It's queer. But I can accept her objection to my smoking.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: She does not object to my snoring. Many dislike my snoring and for this they separated with me.

ZH: Ha ha ha ...

WL: But I am peculiar too. Not to mention my girl friends, Qiu Xin is my third wife.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: None of my three wives dislike my snoring. They are all my wives.

ZH: Really?

WL: My girl friends cannot bear my snoring. She (Qiu Xin) says it's light and that she can't get into sleep if I don't snore. How strange! So people are different. Now let's return to artists. What Li Shan sees in art is certainly different from what we see. When we say Li Shan's paintings are interesting, he may wonder if Wu is being polite or Wu really discovers something in it. Right? He is an honest man. Li Shan, do you still keep the book with my contribution to it?

LS: I made photocopies. Two articles from it will be used in my new book.

WL: I've forgotten what I wrote.

ZH: It's not important. Whatever you wrote then will be there.

WL: I don't feel what I felt then. One may forget what he once wrote. I don't have a fixed idea. I may have said about something in a way thirty years ago and say about the same thing in a different way today. I commented on your art at a certain stage of your creation and today I still comment your art. But I cannot recall some subtle things. I mean my feeling of your art, not my theory. I certainly have my theories and can talk about them on and on. My feeling of something is not my interpretation about it. What is an interpretation? It is a discovery of something mysterious. For example, in physics there is gravitation and in mathematics, permutation. These things are objective. But one's feeling is subjective. My reaction to something, including my physiological reactions, when put in word, is not the same as yours. Some people may have no reaction at all.

ZH: This is an endowment. When I talked with Gao Minglu over the phone the other day, we talked about you. I said Li Shan has always been in a vigorous and productive state and has always put forward new works. Many artists are active for only three or five years or they constantly repeat what they have created.

WL: They are repeating themselves.

ZH: It's his nature: he is never satisfied with what he has.

WL: I find Li Shan like a mischievous child.

LS: Really?

WL: He is not only mischievous. He likes to play jokes. Sometimes he plays in art and sometimes he is mischievous.

ZH: He is going farther and farther.

WL: Sometimes he swindles, sometimes lays traps and then discloses them himself.

ZH: Ha ha ...

LS: The project planned by Zhang Yuan and me will start when I get back to New York.

WL: It seems it's difficult for you to finish it.

ZH: Even if we cannot finish it, we will be satisfied for working in a number of labs in different corners of the world. Even if the product from the lab lives only three days and then dies, it will be interesting.

LS: The significance of the work is that it is a fresh and living artwork and stands for a breakthrough in language of art. By its nature it is an artwork that can reproduce itself.

ZH: It's unprecedented that we as artists engage in such an artistic creation. So far no artists do arts as a scientist.

WL: What is your plan?

ZH: We'll blend two different kinds of genes, human and animal.

WL: Will you start your work with a cell, or a foetus, or two mature living bodies, or part joining to another part?

ZH: Say, if Li Shan finds a horse and I find a donkey. Can we have sexual intercourse with them? Of course not. What to do then? We'll adopt artificial means such as collecting sperms and ova and cultivating them in a womb. If this is possible, we'll begin with larger organs of animals and then proceed to small organs, such as growing an ear on a frog and hanging a testicle from an ear, ha ha ... Li Shan's pictures show what we'll create. We'll let a dragonfly grow skin and hairs on its transparent wings.

WL: If we attach a part of a(n animal) body, say, a wing to a human body, or attach a ball (man's testicle) to the ear, I will not talk about the possibility of survival, but as a form, joining them is entirely possible. On the other hand, such combined organs will doubtlessly die, or become infected. But this does not negate the existence of such a procedure. What do you expect? You expect the procedure and not a result. Can you get a result?

ZH: In fact when such a creature is created, it may survive only three minutes, or even a second, in the same way as a human can live one hundred years, a horse, ten years, or a dog, twenty years. Its five-second life may equal two billion years of the existence of human race.

WL: In a certain period of time it once lived.

ZH: Not only it once lived, but it marked the birth of an entirely new life.

LS: Our works are not fresh and living in a cultural meaning, but in a physiological meaning. Such works are what we are doing at present. When we return to New York, we'll set hand to draw blueprints. Then we'll show our projects in galleries and museums, we'll publish a catalogue and in this way raise fund to build our labs. I think we'll find such crazy investors and we'll find such crazy scientists. Without madness there will be no discovery or invention. I believe there must be a few rich people and a few scientists who have the same ideal as we have. We can even invite first-rate scientists from Britain. To do this, of course, we must have money. I'm sure we have finished our theoretical preparation. The next step is the difficult experiments. I think that one day in the future, you, Wu Liang, will hear a "quack" made by a monster from Brazil, Iceland, or Tahiti. In fact, today, at this moment and in this room, we, including Wu Liang, have made the first step. Our works, part of our project we have just talked about, glimmer and shake there.

WL: What is your purpose?

LS: To create new species of life and change the existing biological order.

WL: If you want to change a species of living thing in word, in a picture, in a blueprint, or a collage, this will not be restricted by moral, for in art, things like the Sphinx, Picasso's bull-headed man have existed. Even though it was astonishing at the time, there was no problem about its existence, because it was not a living body. Once the creation extends to living organism, there will ethical problems.

ZH: Right.

WL: So far art has not violated the respect for living things and respect for human. Now what will you do? If you turn your projects into pictures, that will be no problem. But you extend your projects to living bodies, your action has gone beyond the category of art. According to present order, you have entered the realm of biology. There are laws concerning biological studies. No law can put humans and cows in a category. That's impossible. Such a law would be too absurd. Fascists have eugenic legislation, but no law permits crossing animals of different species.

ZH: This is a matter of concept. We artists bring biologists' work into our art. When a category is to be set, he says it is biology and we say it is art.

WL: If you haven't commanded advanced biological techniques, it is impossible to change human or other living things. To make people free of fear, you must prove that your works is harmless to human and to animals. You must consider in detail what harm it will have or if it has side effects. Many issues out of art will be involved.

LS: To extract drugs, human genes have been used in animals. You can't say such action for purpose of medicine extraction does not violate ethics while the same action for artistic creation does. You must challenge the thing called ethics, provoke it, tease it, and harm it. Only then can it deform and change. The current world is chaotic indeed. Beside ethical issues, we have terrorism, malpractice in election, corruption, arm dealing and manufacturing, homosexuality, marriage crisis, reproduction of human organs, obesity, violence in football games, perplexity over the growth of the universe, sex change, and so on and so forth. Once these problems disappear from people's memory, other problems will come. So long as human race exists, the world is chaotic. We speak chaotically in a chaotic context. I'm considering if we can speak in a new context and try to find something. We don't want to do anything in name of art. We just want to search for something. We may be ignorant of the thing we are searching for. Searching alone is enough. Let's return to the ethical problem. Scientists are extracting stem cells from human foetus to cultivate certain human organs with which scientists will substitute necrotised parts in human body. Alternatively, scientists may repair the necrotised parts with such stem cells. Law stipulates that stem cells can be extracted before the foetus has grown 16 cells and that when the foetus has grown 16 cells, extracting stem cells from the foetus is forbidden. Because when the foetus has grown 16 cells, extracting stem cells from it involves ethics. My questions are: Who has drawn the demarcation? On what grounds? Has he asked God for permission? Why the number is sixteen, and not eight or thirty-two? The absurd thing in human is that they can accept reasonless reasons but never ask why.

WL: Then the living being from your experiment must be rational and necessary. Will you turn a human into a cow or the vice versa when you put a cow and a human together?

ZH: A nondescript.

WL: As an artist, if you just think of this, you are transcending the sphere of art.

ZH: Why do you say so?

WL: You are producing a living thing.

ZH: I make art of living things. Can you say it is not art? When Damien Hirst's work with the calf was being shipped to the States, it got stopped in customs because it is not permitted to bring meat into the USA. His response was; "Look at it again: It's art, not meat." Ha ha ... You couldn't tell it was art, and good art, but it's clearly meat. Of my work I say "It is unmistakably art. You have no reason to say it's a monster or living being, or human being. It belongs to the category of art."

WL: Your theory does not hold. If you do it, you'll surely run into trouble.

ZH: I believe I'll have trouble, no doubt. But things that are hard to achieve are more valuable and significant.

WL: Not to say trouble. You have to state clearly what your purpose is, how much you think about cows, human and animals.

ZH: I don't know. Maybe Li Shan has little interest in women. - I am talking groundlessly - he is not interested in men either. Nor is he interested in animals. He is interested in crossbreeds. So he comes to his particular approach to art. He hopes he will live with such animals, work with them and establish them as a species.

WL: Li Shan, let me change the topic. To prevent the terrible disease of smallpox man discovered that those who survived it acquired immunity against the disease. The vaccine was injected into cows. Isn't this cruel to cows? Cows are animals. We let them suffer for man's benefit. When the cow is vaccinated, it grows pus on its body. We extract the substance in the pus, sterilise it to produce the smallpox vaccine. Of course we have better methods of achieving this now. But initially this is how people acquired the vaccine. The vaccine was injected on human body, there would grow a small swelling and inflammation on the skin. There might be a fever. When this was over, the person who had received vaccination was immune. This involved human and cows. Thus in the cause of medicine, doctor combined humans and cows when usually substances from a cow would be repulsed by the human body.

LS: It's too ugly to combine human and cows. There is too weak contrast between them. The new species of living things acquired by combining human and insects, fungus or other animals may be very beautiful.

ZH: Maybe a new species might possess qualities that modern humans do not. For example, it will get cancer, even if it [doesn't??] smokes. Maybe it has condensed poison that can kill a person with a spitting. It may provide new experiment. I think that however you try to restrict it, it is bound to come into being. Humankind cannot remain as it is.

LS: To think of this problem, let's remove our position from the human being. We may even avoid talking about the human race. In a hundred million years maybe men will not rule the earth, but octopus' will! The species of living things on the earth are becoming outdated. Dragonflies look the same as in the era of dinosaurs, only a bit smaller perhaps. A few years ago I went to the Jungar Basin in Xinjiang. On a mountain slope I picked up a fossilised bough. I sniffed it and found the sweet smell of camphor. It is at least a hundred million years old yet it retains its scent.

ZH: Maybe in a hundred million years the world will be ruled by the bombardier beetle. It can send you to the other side of the earth with a "puff" from its anus. You won't need to fly to Shanghai by plane. How wonderful! You just talked about smallpox. Do you notice with what part of its body does the wasp sting? With its tail. That is its reproduction organ.

WL: After stinging, it dies.

ZH: Right. When it stings a man, some substance reacts within human body. It is in fact a biological reaction. The swelling on human body is a new species. You may say it sucks blood or whatever you like to say. I feel the same.

WL: What on the earth are you up to?

ZH: Ha ha ... I don't know.

WL: If human kind is not so pessimistic. One hundred million year ago dinosaurs too discussed this problem. We hear, they said, that humans will take our place. What shall we do? But in the end all dinosaurs died off. Ha ha ... Dinosaurs too wanted some change.

LS: Actually these lives are insignificant to the universe. The universe does not care if there is life or not. It needs matters only. The universe is made of matters.

WL: - and energy.

LS: The universe does not need humans, or frogs. Why does it need them?

WL: But since those have come into being, they continue to exist.

LS: That's it. The universe is indifferent. It has its own business to attend to.

ZH: For any planet, human means little to it, and it means little to human.

LS: They mean very little to each other.

ZH: There is a human race because there is soil on the earth for human to grow. The earth does not have the species of life that we want to have, because there is no related soil. Perhaps we should change the environment on the earth first.

WL: In last June I attended an experts' course in the city's Party school. It's interesting. Later we visited Jinggang Mountains. In the classroom we were serious, but during the excursion we got to know each other. Some were engaged in literature, others were doctors, professors, and there was an astronomer. He studied the "black holes" in the universe. Many asked him about the earthquake. He said that they shouldn't think him an expert from the weather bureau. The weather bureau looks after the earth.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Astronomy is not concerned with what happens on earth. He talked a great deal to us about theories of "black holes", abstruse theories. I jokingly said to him - his name was Shen, graduated from an American university and had worked in a research institute in Taiwan. Now he is engaged  in an observatory - "I'll ask you to give us a lecture. You'll talk about the 'black hole' in the first half an hour, and during the second half-hour, you'll talk about the galaxy for twenty minutes and about the sun for ten minutes. Of the ten minutes you'll talk about the earth for one minute and during the last second you'll talk about China.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: He's an interesting guy. On the mid-autumn day, interestingly, the moon was bright. I have a telescope that can magnify things by 27 times. I watched the moon. In previous mid-autumn day I watched moon too. It was extremely bright and looked large, like a huge ice ball. Wow! It was amazing. I pulled Qiu Xin there to see it. I told her that one of my schoolmates now worked in a observatory. I went to telephone him and he asked me to go and look at Mars and Venus from his observatory. I said in my courtyard those stars looked like tadpoles. He asked me what I was doing. I said I was watching the moon. He said, "Is today good time to watch the moon? Who watches the moon on the mid-autumn day? You can't watch the moon at this time. You're a fool. Ridiculous." I said, "The moon looks like an ice ball." He asked me if I believed that there was ice on the moon. I said I knew there was not. It was reflection. The moon is covered with desert. I am not so ignorant. He said, "Why do you watch those basic things? I'll tell you where certain stars are and where black holes are. Why? When you see a flash of light or a star is pulled to somewhere, you know there is something there, it has enormous energy and a magnetic field that pulls matters. This means the space may cave in. I know all these places." He talked about his theories rapidly. We didn't talk about the solar system at all.

ZH: (Knowledge about the solar system) is too basic.

WL: Ha ha ...When you create a living thing, you will have technical argumentation about your project and will have cooperative organisations. How shall you convince them? You may say you are artists. But you certainly have an aim in your creation. What is it?

LS: It's useless to try to convince those who are not interested in our art, and it's not necessary to convince those who are interested in it.

WL: Do you have a basic plan?

LS: Our plan is seen in what we are doing now. Of course we need to add details to it.

WL: On your blueprint you can put a mouth in a frog's eye, cut down an ear or tear down wings from the butterfly without causing any trouble. As a specimen of insects it is all right. It does not harm anything. But if you really put a dog's leg into a pig's ear, you'll cause trouble.

LS: It depends on how you work on it. According to our plan, the end product will be a monster, but not misplaced organs. Misplaced organs are seen in my pictures. We have begun preparation for our lab. We don't think about what result we'll have. Like women volleyball players. At critical moment they don't think about what score they'll have. In the Chinese and Russian women's volleyball match in the Olympic Games in Athens, when China was beaten to one to two, the chief coach Chen Zhong advised the sportswomen that they should not think about the score, but just play ball as they should. We don't think about what our work will be like. It'll be best if it is beyond our imagination.

WL: If the women volleyball players lost the game, Chen Zhong's advise would not have gotten so much publicity. You've lost the game but you said this, ha ha ... You must win.

LS: We don't know what our end product will be. We don't know if it will survive, either. What we should do is to conduct our experiment and artistic creation conscientiously. I can't describe it, but I dare say it will be a monster, a hybrid.

WL: I'd rather repeat that you can't do anything you like just because you're artists. You've gone beyond the sphere of iconography. There is clearly defined ethical demarcation. Once you put your Utopia into practice, you'll cause calamity. I don't mean you'll become a calamity, but you'll rouse protest. It's better do art. Art presents a virtual world. You have entered the real world and are trying to do a living thing, not a corpse, not a specimen. You'll have trouble. Your activity involves protection of animals.  For example, to cut down a leg from a cow or cut down an ear from a human in your plan is OK, because it is not so shocking just impossible. But you're sober, not as mad as Vincent van Gough who cut down his own ear the give it away.

ZH: He was not mad. He kept his reason. Before cutting down his own ear, do you know how long he brooded over it? To cut or not to cut, that is the question.

WL: He was half mad.

ZH: I don't think he was mad. He had reason. How many ears to cut? One or two? He thought for a long time before he made the decision.

WL: It dies when you try to change it. It's meaningless.

LS: To substitute it with a monster or crossbreed. That's the meaning.

WL: You can't substitute them. They all die.

LS: No one knows if it will die or not.

WL: What a role will it play? Can something change? Can it propagate?

LS: Yes, it can. The ability to propagate is the main feature of the work. If it survives, there will be no problem for reproduction.

WL: Are your experts willing to do this?

ZH: Our experts are invited with high pay. It's a team of experts.

WL: They are assisting you in your creation of your art works.

ZH: To lay it bare, our institute or lab have real specialised scientists who are doing the practical work.

LS: They work according to our plan.

ZH: They are doing our project. Don't you study your cloning. Study our project. Produce what we want.

LS: What is the meaning of the cloned sheep "Dolly" produced in Britain? It shows no difference with its father. It is nothing better than its father either in character, in psychology or in appearance. It's said it has weak sex desire and ages faster than its father. I hear it developed symptoms of arthritis last year. We will not let scientists in our lab study such things. Why should we reproduce living beings? I said that these species are too old and that they must be replaced by new species. Our lab will create species and not clone existing species.

ZH: Species created by God repulse foreign matters, but now they even reject their own species. A couple wants to have a baby but can't even if they sleep together every day.

WL: That's it.

ZH: The same species reject each other.

WL: As for chromosome, the imbecile, retarded, genetic mutation, and the genetic freak, all because something is missing, defection. You can't have a chromosome more or less. Ha-ha ...

(The ensuing story, unfortunately, is not recorded on the tape. We didn't notice that the tape had reached its end. Zhang Huan tells the following story as a complementation.)

ZH: At the opening ceremony of an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, Mr Udo, the curator of the Contemporary Art Gallery of Frankfort talked with me about his latest activities. He said he loved a piece of work. He invited a female artist and asked her to defecate at a fixed hour every day in the lounge on the ground floor. In a month she left 30 piles of shit and thus the creation came to an end. The piles of shit entered the history of art in this way. It's shit of history in its real sense.

An artist from Chicago said his last work would be created by feeding a tiger with its corpse [does this mean the tiger's corpse? The tiger eating itself?  Or eating the artist?} and then putting the urine that the tiger passed after eating him into a transparent container and sealing it.

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: He will leave a stink forever.

WL: I will see if you art historians write about this. Hotdog! You cannot get around this event. It's great indeed. Ha ha ... History of art, history of shit. Shit!

ZH: Ha ha ... History of art. The shit will stink for thousands of years. The artist will stink. That's a history of art, ha ha ...

WL: I remember reading a report many years ago. The report says that flies spread many diseases, but never themselves contract any disease. It is speculated that the fly has a gene that can resist various diseases. If we extract this substance and use it for people's good, people will get rid of many diseases, at least enteric infection. Another animal is the rat. It spread plague to humans and at the same time it will die of the same disease. In Albert Camus' Plague rats die in large numbers. Plague kills rats too, but many diseases cannot kill the rat. Rats eat almost everything. Beside its powerful digestion, it has extraordinary resistance to many diseases. It's said many people are studying rats, maybe secretly. The rat's strong resistance to diseases and adaptability to environment is incomparable. It lives in the dirtiest places and eats the least edible things.

ZH: And it did not see the sunshine.

WL: There is a saying that the research results cannot be made public, because they touch upon national security, military affairs and individuals' interests. To defend the nation's interests, the results cannot be popularised. For one thing, medicine manufacturers might be reluctant to develop products from the research. If none of you contract diseases, who will buy my medicine? Because of man's self interest, some issues cannot be thoroughly studied.

ZH: Humans are too selfish.

WL: Problems like unemployment, bankruptcy of business, loss of revenue, the pillar industry, and many others. What to do? Troublesome. Sometimes certain groups' interests are affected, sometimes the national interests. It's quite possible. Sometimes sci-tec groups are involved. Suppose Li Shan talked about reptiles. Tortoise is a representative of reptiles. It lives under its own shell. If it were a man, every one has his or her house on his back, what will the estate developers do then?

ZH: Ha ha ...

LS: Ha ha ....

WL: What will architects do? Every one has his or her house and he or she has it ever since his or her birth. There is no housing problem. Every one has a house on his or her back.

ZH: Furthermore, the house can be extended and contracted. And it is soft. For a moment it becomes flesh. In cold time, it opens at night.

WL: It is an updated product. Ha ha ... People will not ask you how big a house you have. Every one has a one-room house.

ZH: There will be no problem of land security. The national situation will be stable.

WL: Is there any inequality among tortoises? None of them can gloat. Every one has a house and that is nothing to be proud of. Some humans are proud, vain, conceited, jealous. There is nothing to be jealous of. Every tortoise has a home, while some people are homeless.

LS: That's why we can all turn into tortoises. We should draw up a plan.

ZH: To be a tortoise has been my long-cherished dream.

WL: Every animal has its trick for survival.

LS: Those who can survive have become extinct species. The most powerful is the virus. If the virus hidden under the ice on Siberia and the Arctic are released, all living things on the earth will be killed.

WL: The Pandora's box is not opened yet.

LS: People are talking about global warming, the rise of sea levels, but they do not talk about viruses. Viruses are far more terrible than waters in the ocean.

WL: And there are octopuses.

ZH: This is comrade Stalin's gift for me to enjoy myself, ha ha ... (lights the cigarette).

WL: What for yourself?

ZH: Condom.

WL: Condom. What words does he use?

ZH: Enjoy myself.

WL: I see. It's for your enjoyment. (In the Hunan dialect the terms "for enjoyment" and "for myself" have similar pronunciation.)

ZH: Ha ha ...

LS: The creatures we'll create need no condom.

ZH: Have you heard the story of a girl? A girl had big feet. In the past a girl with big feet was looked down. She went to doctors but no doctor could make her feet small. Later she invited an old monk from a temple. The monk went upstairs and took out a pack of drug powder. He put the powder in a basin of water and asked the girl to steep her feet in it. He left. The girl steeped her feet in the water and they became smaller. Good. But the feet became too small that the girl could not stand firm. It's very uncomfortable. The girl was angry and poured the water out of her window and the water happened to fall on the old monk's head. The monk got angry. Who poured water on me? On his way back to his temple, the monk felt more and more uncomfortable on his head. He walked and walked until he went to a well. He wanted to see his head mirrored in water and stuck his head out. Then he heard a voice from within the well. "Master, please don't piss." [The monk's head became as small as a penis. That's why the man in the well asked the monk not to piss.]

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: There was a man in the well.

WL: Ha ha ... This story is funny.

ZH: It was an effect of the drug powder.

LS: Our experiment needs such stories to enlighten us.

WL: A man was talking nonsense. There came a listener who wore a wadded waistcoat. It was hot. He put off his waistcoat. Several people were talking nearby. A story went that once there was a man walking on the road and tripped on a tortoise. The man was angry and made to kick the tortoise. The tortoise dived into a pond. The man was determined to avenge himself. What's to be done? An hour late a snake came out. He snatched the snake and said, "Ha, don't you think I'll not recognise you that you put off your waistcoat."

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Li Shan is not content to be a painter only.

ZH: Right (lights a cigarette)

WL: Li Shan, do you have a small plastic bag?

LS: What for?

WL: I'll take some (puffed rice).

ZH: Li Shan, we can end the article with this: Li Shan, do you have a small plastic bag? I'd take some puffed rice with me.

LS: Ha ha ... Amusing.

ZH: Our topic doesn't seem meaningful, but our talk is interesting.

WL: I feel that we have been talking too seriously. We were asking what the meaning of something, say, what the meaning of painting is.

ZH: You certainly have your intention. It depends on what you want to do.

WL: I was worrying if it would be all right to do that.

LS: When we have our lab registered, people will ask us the same questions.

WL: So your occupation of being artists gives you license to do many things. You just talked about a bull's head that was brought into USA in name of art. There have been many such instances. Gu Wenda (well-known Chinese artist) once had similar trouble. Hair was something dirty. He too got permission by saying it was art. The problem we face is that of producing non-art in the name of art. That's why you need to have other institutions involved. Besides, you are not explaining what art is, but your action touches on biology, hybridisation and humankind's future.

LS: This touches the problem of the definition of arts.

ZH: The art we talked in the past is mainly a visual art, an art to create images. They are flat, lifeless. Now we are creating living, new species. We are creating new images. You can't measure our art with old concept and say it is not art. I find you venerate the concept of art too much. Ha ha ...

WL: You're still visualising or conceiving your work and so far no outline or plan has been worked out. So I cannot discuss your work with you. Pablo Picasso painted a creature with a bull's head and a human body. The bull's head is an important symbol or cultural totem or a part of an art tradition. We see it in many wall paintings. Picasso transplanted it from mythology into painting. In old myths monsters with a bull's head and a human body exist. Such iconography has its sources and there are many theories to explain it. Some say it symbolises violence. There are various arguments and they are all justifiable. But if you put a bull's head to a human body, people will not say it's a symbol. It will go beyond it. If you put your plan into practice, if you cut a bull's head and affix it to a man's body, I think it will be too shocking for the people. I wonder if someone has the courage to do this.

LS: This is more than a story.

WL: I don't know what will happen if you produce such a work, because it has not come into being yet.

ZH: In the 1960s some artists created similar works.

WL: Did someone sew a bull's head onto a human body?

ZH: Yes, no. In the 1960s an artist went to a butchery, cut down the head from a bull and put the head onto his own head.

WL: Did he put the bull's head onto his own?

ZH: Yes. There is another person who asked others to split a sheep's body.

WL: Did he?

ZH: Then he sewed the sheep's skin round his body.

LS: Our lab will not produce such things. We are engaging in bioengineering, not manufacturing of headgears.

WL: It sounds that you are producing art by engaging specialist, scientists.

ZH: We produce art works in a real sense.

WL: Your works do not belong to biology. They will not enter medical history, but in art history.

ZH: It is possible that they enter history of biology.

WL: Biology does not accept them. Your art will fail.

ZH: Why?

WL: Your plan has a turtle sewed onto a human body or a bull's body.

ZH: We'll let such things see the light. The story of a man's head becoming smaller is to the point. If a head turns into a testicle, it will be a great invention in humankind's history of medicine.

LS: Why this is possible? We know the stem cell in human body is an original cell and that it builds human's legs, head, ears, navel, toe nails, bladder, hair on arms and other organs according to instructions of God. If we ask God to retire and we send out instructions from our lab, ordering a bull's head to grow from stem cells on human's arm, or dragonfly's wings to grow on a donkey's back. That will be very simple. Or as Zhang Huan has just said, we can give stem cells an instruction that a testicle instead of a head grow on a trunk with arms and legs running.

ZH: And the testicle is not large. But the small thing will have many times a brain's thinking capacity. Ha ha ... It will be a new version of the "Haired Ball" (Li Shan's early work).

WL: Ha ha ...

LS: Ha ha ...

ZH: Ha ha ...

LS: That's the secret of the human stem cells. You extract the cell and put it in a bed, - of course the bed must meet all the requirements for growth - then you give instructions and the cell will build things you want, so long as you can produce a blueprint and the construction procedure.

ZH: This will enter art history, and also medical history and biology history.

WL: In the history of literature we have Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. In it a man wakes from sleep and finds himself become a beetle.

ZH: Whatever we have had, they are all lifeless things, fantasies. What we are doing now is real and living. That is the biggest difference.

LS: They will enter art history just because of their creators Zhang Yuan and Li Shan.

WL: This is certainly real. Your conversation today will be recorded and become a piece of work.

LS: A lingual work.

WL: In words.

LS: This is a preparation (for our project).

WL: It is impossible for you to invite experts, famous experts to work with you. If as art works you'll handle butterfly's wings or fish - they are lower animals after all - that may be possible, but that may rouse protest, too. But the protest will not be important.

ZH: Many crazy biologists are doing similar experiments. They all want to begin from the beginning.

WL: They are working secretly. But you are working openly, not secretly.

ZH: We are working secretly too. You are invited to join us. We'll not make our identity known to others.

WL: If so, they [the biologists] will give many suggestions. They will tell you what to do and not to do. But if you ask biologists to do such a thing, you'll have trouble.

ZH: The art history will be done in a biological lab.

WL: The biological lab makes great contributions.

ZH: They will have no fear in doing this. We will have failures.

WL: Certainly you'll have failures. They may produce some mild or less vicious living creatures.

ZH: I had a neighbour in my building. I talked with him.

WL: I heard somebody whose name I've forgotten say that a man's head may be transplanted. A man's body stops working but his head is alive. The head was cut down and sewed up to the shoulder of an executed culprit, provided it with blood, and the man survived a period of time. This experiments used human bodies. It is an experiment. Anyway the head and body are from dead humans. I don't know if the report is believable. There are many cells in the brain, the blood vessels, cervical vertebras and nerves are interlinked. It's an extremely complicated procedure to transplant a head. There are successful cases of transplantation of animals' organs, say a pig's or sheep's head was once transplanted. I don't remember quite clearly, but I am sure it concerned higher mammals. It is possible.

LS: This belongs to medicine.

ZH: The major issue is creating images. Ha ha ... New images, images, creation of images, ha ha ... Creation of images.

WL: In the end you're talking about art and not reforming human species. Recently Li Shan has been discussing how to reform the species of humankind.

ZH: That's his way to present his arts.

WL: Li Shan worries about the global warming up and melting of ice in the South and North poles.

LS: I don't worry about such things. The present forms of living things, especially the form of human, are not worth reserving. They are too problematic. God's instructions are not necessarily right. Frogs, cockroaches and dragonflies copy themselves over and over. It's meaningless for you to have children like yourselves. Shouldn't God have a self-examination and self-criticism? In 2001 I shouted to all Australians through Radio Australia, "Human race should go back to the protein." The live broadcast announcer girl shrieked in surprise. Maybe my shout and her shriek still hover above the Australian continent. When human returns to its starting point, they may have a new God, and it may be more interesting to develop along a new path according the new God's instructions. Why cannot humankind experiment on themselves?

WL: Is your view the human's or the protein's? Are you praising humankind or the protein? I feel you're praising humans. You're gloating. You human can say this, but protein cannot.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: It cannot. In the end, human is great. Li Shan, you have a more developed head than the protein.

LS: If I praise humankind at all, I am praising human's will and ability, because of all animals I know, only human has the ability to understand the necessity to return to protein. In fact once humankind returns to its starting point, it needn't move along a new direction. Stay where it is will be OK. That is the essential state of life.

WL: Let me tell you some general knowledge. In the past the curtains in my room were black. I felt the room lack vitality. I began to grow flowers in it. I watered flowers, but it's useless. The flowers withered. I moved the flowers out of my room. The flowers know they are in a new environment. They turn greener in the sun. The sprouts grow faster on the sunny side and those in shadow grow slower. Even a tree has senses. It's so ingeniously created. What can you do [to improve anything]?

LS: It's not perfect, because it possesses consciousness.

WL: You are praising God one moment and criticising it for its imperfection the next moment.

LS: The life created by God is no good.

WL: God created strange things and told them to repulse foreign bodies. Damn it! I can't help.

ZH: Yes, there is repulse of foreign bodies.

WL: Absolutely, you can't change it. I don't believe that humankind is the result of an evolution from lower to higher animals. I don't believe the theory that the unicellular organism becomes more and more complex. The human's cell has 23 chromosomes. It can only have 23. If one of the 23 is different, the human is female; if that one is right, the human is male. Just that one chromosome accounts. If that one chromosome is missing, the creature is a failure. The number can only be that number. It has been that number from the very beginning.

LS: Perhaps we'll pull out two chromosomes in our work. We'll do that.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Ha ha ...

LS: I will pull three pairs out of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes and replace them with those of a dragonfly, and see what will happen.

WL: The creature will die.

LS: Not necessarily. Our lab is engaged in that. We'll manage to let it survive.

WL: It cannot grow wings.

LS: Hard to say. If it does not grow wings, it may grow legs or something else on it. Maybe human eyes can be replaced by those of a dragonfly.

ZH: Most humans stick to some concept. The other day I said of a woman in Taiwan; she looks upon her children that way: so long as a child is not an imbecile or handicapped, it is perfect. All humans' ideas boil down to one notion: survival. So long as one lives well, one is happy.

WL: As for art, there is no success or failure in it. Success or not is in people's mouth. For example, I paint a picture. You may say it is a good or bad work. But once your judgement is defended with arguments, your view will pass. If you cannot supply arguments to defend your work, people will say your work is a failure. It is a matter what is primary and what is secondary. But the result of a scientific experiment is clear and there is clearly defined standard for success or failure. If your product can't survive, your experiment fails. It certainly won't survive. We believe in the experiment. But it's difficult to say if an experiment in art is a success or failure. I produce a painting as an experiment and maybe in ten years people will say it's a failure or success. It's hard to give a clear-cut standard.

ZH: The goal of our experiment is to let our products survive.

WL: You needn't do experiments any more. You'll surely fail. There have been innumerable trials. Stop making experiments.

LS: Maybe at the present stage our products cannot survive, but in future they can. Everything has a beginning. We are making a beginning.

ZH: There is a possibility for survival of our products. We should go back to the initial state of everything. I mean milliards of years ago when the earth was not born from an explosion yet. During that time things were being made. We'll return to that stage and start all over again.

LS: We'll make proteins.

ZH: And start afresh.

WL: The diversified living things are made up of proteins. It's simple. But the map of genes is different and genes are in different permutations. This means that no slight error is allowed. So you can do nothing to it. Li Shan, I admire you for your imagination, but you absolutely can't succeed.

ZH: This is not important. It's not important if our products survive or not.

WL: What matters is creating images. Ha ha ...

ZH: We'll make a beginning.

WL: You can succeed in creating images. Successful creation of images will not consider life or death of the art work. And there will be no ethical problems.

ZH: The created living things should survive. It is not the survival of an image in its simple sense.

WL: It will do even if the product lives three or five minutes.

WL: This is possible.

ZH: It will be all right if it as protein or a cell stirs once or twice.

WL: What you are interested in is not how long it survives but it does appear once.

ZH: Right. That's our aim.

WL: The value of its coming into being is not in itself, but in that your view is confirmed.

ZH: Right.

WL: You experiment serves to justify your view,

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: and is not for the sake of living things.

ZH: You said it's impossible, so we ......

WL: so what do you aim at? State it clearly. Your aim is not to change humankind or any species of living things.

ZH: Our aim is not unitary.

LS: A living being lives three or half a second and it becomes mature enough to reproduce children.

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Li Shan, may I use the key to our room? Qiu Xin may have gone to sleep. According to her habit, she should have rung me. But she went to sleep without calling me.

ZH: Where has he (Li Shan) gone?

WL: He went to take the key to my home.

ZH: Let's talk on until the tape reaches its end. Then you will take rest.

LS: Let's make some noodles.

ZH: No. I'm not hungry. How about you?

WL: I'm not hungry either.

ZH: OK. Let's wait until the tape is used up. There are some good bits of conversation. It will be all right if you put down a fifth of it on paper.

LS: When it's typed up and I've passed it to Lorenz (director of ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai) he'll find a translator.

WL: After our conversation is on paper, we all read it. Some places may need editing.

ZH: I don't think it needs much editing. Wu Liang, if you can find time, it will be best that you edit it.

WL: OK. There are repetitions and redundancy. Because I talked casually. To ensure that people will understand our conversation, interesting parts should be kept and the not so interesting parts can be deleted.

LS: Some parts seem irrelevant to our topic but are interesting. Keep such parts.

WL: Right.

ZH: Interesting matters, even if meaningless, will be put in.

WL: Yes.

ZH: It will call up associations in readers' mind.

WL: I think it's more interesting to keep it in its original form. It's a text. We should keep everything that has happened on the site.

ZH: Right.

WL: It's very interesting. It's an informal conversation.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: (Wu Liang's mobile phone rings) She has not gone into sleep. I'm afraid she has gone to sleep and wouldn't hear me. Once I left the key in the room. When I forgot to bring the key with me, you were in USA. So I ask Zhou Jie (a young artist) to keep a key to my room. You were in USA then and I didn't have Zhou Jie to help me. So I had to ask the lock-opening company for help. I had such an experience. My door is a nuisance. You just close it and it is locked automatically. It's easy to forget the key.

LS: So is my door.

WL: So he (Li Shan) leaves a key with me. In emergency he can use the key I keep for him.

LS: Last time I forgot my key I asked the estate management company's man to bring a ladder and with the ladder I climbed in my room. Now I am leaving and I have to trouble you again.

WL: That's no problem. I will open your mailbox at least once half a month. If there is bill for you, I will pay it on your behalf.

LS: I have not only one home. I have another room at No. 76.

WL: That's no problem either.

LS: When I leave I will give the key to that room and tell you how to open the door.

WL: Let me take it as a saving. I seldom notice it. But when the time is due, you'll deposit money to my account. Ha ha ... There may be one to two thousand yuan.

ZH: You'll be away for at least five months.

LS: I'll come back after the Spring Festival. I must prepare my exhibition "Wall" at home.

ZH: What is the regulation concerning your personal status?

LS: I can't stay away [from USA] for more than half a year.

ZH: Then you can come back and go more times.

LS: Right.

WL: It doesn't pay if you spend your time otherwise enjoyable there.

ZH: Right.

WL: You can create small works there and come back to create great works.

LS: That's it.

ZH: A good idea.

WL: When you get our conversation on paper, print it out. You can distinguish voices of us three. You may play it and listen. This is Zhang Huan, this is Li Shan and this, Wu Liang.

WL: Can Lorenz help us?

LS: No. Those young ladies can't do that. Still less Lorenz himself.

WL: After the conversation is put on paper, I will edit it.

ZH: If you do a great deal of editing, you may put it on paper yourself as well. We know what we want to keep. And what we needn't is kept. And you will have to spend time to listen to it. If you put down our conversation, you'll work quickly.

WL: I can't find time. I'm compiling two books these days.

ZH: If Wu Liang has no time, you do it. At least you know the voices. Even if you know nothing, you can do it.

WL: You listen to the tape and put it down sentence by sentence.

ZH: You write it down, and type it. Then show it to Wu Liang. "Click, click", and you finish it.

WL: I will finish it with a "click".

ZH: You have the ability. Just copy it.

LS: Right.

ZH: Ha ha ...

WL: Ha ha ... You may go and see Dahong (a young artist). When are you at home?

ZH: You do it first, type it and then leave two days for him to edit it. If he works quickly, he may finish editing it in one day.

WL: You may leave out much of our conversation.

LS: I know what to keep and what to cut. Other people may not know.

WL: Right.

ZH: You do it first. Whether you want or not, there are parts you must keep. You must do this. Wu Liang will know what you've done to the text.

WL: You needn't put our present talk into the text. You may use more paper since you write in big characters. You may ask Qiu Xin to input it onto a disk. She can't make out our meaning by hearing the tape. When the text is printed, I'll edit it. I cannot edit your manuscript because you write too big characters. Print the text triple-spaced so that I have space to make corrections.

ZH: Right.

LS: When I write I'll leave space for your editing.

WL: That's OK too.

ZH: After that Qiu Xin will input it into the computer.

WL: Good.

LS: I write big characters.

ZH: Great! This is our first textual cooperation.

WL: Right. We'll put the text into our collection. You may edit it too. It will be great if we three stay together [in the manuscript].

LS: It is a manuscript.

WL: Our common possession. Ha-ha ...

LS: It will be in our collection and we can show it in an exhibition too.

WL: Ha ha ...

ZH: A few books in the collection will do.

WL: You said many interesting things.

ZH: Our conversation recorded in the first cassette is not done freely. The conversation went on a bit more smoothly after you left, because then we had forgotten the machine. When you were with us, we didn't know how to talk. When the second cassette was recording, you were waiting. Our conversation recorded on the first half of the second cassette is the best. Because we all forgot the machine. The conversation when you returned is not bad. The first half of the third cassette is also good.

LS: Why don't we eat noodles since we have bought them.

ZH: Good.

WL: I've prepared puffed rice for you.

ZH: Good.

WL: I've not eaten it for years. It arouses my memory of my favourite food in childhood. What's this for?

ZH: I'll bring it to Qiu Xin.

WL: So much.

ZH: Do you have a bag? I'll take the small bag. You take the big one.

WL: All right. With some milk I'll take it for breakfast.

ZH: I don't put in milk.

WL: You like eating mutton, Ha ha ... You can eat some for lunch. No, I mean beef.

ZH: I did it with (the puffed rice vendor at the gate of the residential community). I put down the bag and asked him to pop whatever I want to eat.

WL: I wonder if you call him by phone, he may sell it (the vendor's popper) to you. Call him now.

ZH: I forgot to ask the number of his mobile phone. It's difficult to buy a popper.

LS: Where can you buy one in Shanghai?

ZH: What's the name of the machine? Who produced it? I only see this ready one.

LS: I want one too. I want to put it on the windowsill in my new apartment.

ZH: I will buy many and give you one.

WL: As if they are sculptures.

ZH: I must have a place and buy dozens.

WL: It produces good effect. Every viewer will get one for free.

ZH: Right. Eat puffed rice free.

WL: The way of eating. Ha ha ..., it seems there is a term, "food amplifier".

ZH: Right.

WL: It is mentioned in a comical dialogue.

ZH: Yes, in 1970s.

WL: "Food amplifier", Ha ha ...

ZH: Calamity! A pair of testicles was stole from the male corpse in the International Exhibition of Human Body!

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