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The Objectification of life experience

Author: Lin Ye Translator: Huang Jinglan 2022-08-22

In the early 1920s, after decades of development, photography gradually emerged from the shadow of painting to reveal its unique subjective will. Photography began to unfold qualities that transcended human vision and offered a new way of seeing. As a result, a group of avant-garde artists, represented by Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy, began to experiment and innovate within the medium of photography. The way they added a variety of expressions to the chosen discipline dramatically enhances the possibilities of the varied trajectory that photography has developed, which acquires a whole new space.

For Jiang Pengyi, the experimental and passionate avant-garde photography from the 1920s is an undoubtedly important treasure that inspires him in many ways. Like the pioneering artists a hundred years ago, Jiang was interested in "how the generating mechanisms between materials and image could match with an intangible affection". He has been experimenting numerously with photography by incorporating a range of photographic material characteristics into the medium to create a rich and distinctive body of art.

In his works, the creative method is never just a mere, mechanical means but a process in which he feels everything in the world, reflects on himself, knows the real world, and allows himself to establish a connection with reality through the medium and method of creation, as well as a carrier of inner life.

Then, when confronted with those works that coalesce his subjective experience, works cannot be simply aestheticized and symbolized. In a sense, these works as objects are the objectification of Jiang Pengyi's life experience. Their existence challenges the viewer's inherent notion of art, calling on the viewer's inner question - how exactly were these works created? Why do they have to be created by such means? What is the experience of such a creation? What is the relationship between such works and me?

The exhibition "Streams Over the Serried Stones" can perhaps be understood as an overall presentation of Jiang Pengyi's inner view of life. The series "Intimacy" is created by Jiang Pengyi with two materials: fluorescent paper and photographic film, which have opposite light sensitivity. Like he said, "One has to be open to the light, and the other has to be in the dark to avoid the light; one releases light, and the other absorbs it." It can be said that the symbolic meaning of the work does not come from the semiotic meaning within the image, but from his understanding of the material and the method he adopted. If we consider the image of his work as a kind of living body, then the whole process of creation reflected in his work seems to be a process of collision, fusion, interaction and wrestling between two different forces related to life. From this point of understanding, the group of works consisting of "Trace", "Medium", and "Inconsolable Memories" created with Polaroid film embodies a series of inner life forces that are either fused and generated or reconstructed. While "Foresight" and "Sun! Sun!" are the other group of works captured by direct processing on film, which represents the cumulative penetrating power and painful violent power from the external world. Thus, in this part of the exhibition, Jiang Pengyi takes the two works of the "Intimacy" series as the starting point, together with other works, which form a well-structured life mechanics system.

If life as an individual is gradually nurtured in the above-mentioned complex and uncertain mechanical system, balancing these multiple forces of both internal and external, requires a particular solid spiritual system within life. In the second part of the exhibition, Jiang Pengyi juxtaposes "Dark Addiction", which uses the luminous function of fireflies and is created with object photography and long exposure time, with "Grace", a large-scale gelatin work with complex and delicate shadows taken in countries and regions such as the Arctic Circle and the Southern Hemisphere, and "Gravel Fathoms the Sea", which was taken in the Black Gobi near Dunhuang that has a vast hidden meaning but makes people feel lonely and desolate. The landscape of the three series of works symbolically constructs a spiritual system that supports the human will to live: giving, forgiving and love.

The last part of the exhibition shows the eponymous work "Streams Over the Serried Stones" of this exhibition. Unlike his previous artistic methods, this time Jiang Pengyi has adopted a documentary photography approach, capturing a large number of scenes from the streets of Chengdu. At first glance, these photographs may seem banal, like a casual glance in a sea of people, but this kind of de-singularization photography is the best way to reveal the truth of real life. The visual spectacle that is deliberately created to attract attention is often a kind of claptrap, a "visual itch" which like a skin disease that isolates people in an inherent illusion. Instead, this three-channel video, edited from a large number of still photographs that were taken in Chengdu, can bring people into a concrete and tangible circumstance, where we do not feel it as the visual bubble of a show, but a life that is related to everyone, and from which we can obtain a homogeneous identity even though they are the records of daily life in Chengdu. Once we integrate this work into the cognitive system that has been constructed, we realize that all of this is mixed, and that these ordinary people like us have generated such a meticulous system of life consciousness with their own life experiences, and such a system flows like a stream in everyone's life day after day.

Perhaps, when we face Jiang Pengyi's works, we may feel a little overwhelmed at first, but such overwhelm can help us get rid of the stereotyped concept. When the "high resolution" of the work is deliberately dissolved and reduced, the concentration and diversity of information in the medium of photography itself is expanded and extended, stimulating a richer imagination and initiative. Thus, in this exhibition, each viewer has the opportunity to become an artist by using their own emotional experience, which merges with the "objectified" life experience contained in work, to produce their work by recognizing the concept of life perception.

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