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信息的模样 李振华 X 龙心如、周姜杉

2015-1-13 16:56| 发布者: 墙报| 查看: 1917| 评论: 0|来自: 艺术时代

本文发表在《艺术时代》杂志第39期

龙星如 / 周姜杉

I&C (Iris and Cedar) is an artist group based in Beijing who are interested in the relationship between data and perception, and subjective narrative embedded in data. Their work combines elements of computer science, visual art and story telling, using real-world generated data to create multi-sensory experiences.

I&C have been exhibited internationally at venues including Victoria and Albert Museum
(London UK), Royal College of Art (London UK), Watermans Art Centre (London UK), OCT-LOFT Art Terminal (Shenzhen China), Audi City Beijing (China), and Power Station of Art (Shanghai China). Their recent work is interactive archival data visualisation about Chinese contemporary art, the CCAA WOW, presented at Power Station of Art, Shanghai.

As curators,they co-curated "Information in Style: information visualisation in the UK" at the CAFA Art Museum in 2013.

Iris has a master degree from the Royal College of Art, and Cedar has a MA degree from the Central Saint Martin Collage of Art and design, University of Arts London and a MFA from the Goldsmiths Collage, University of London.

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I&C (龙星如和周姜杉) 是一个基于北京的艺术组合。他们的研究方向为数据与感知的关系及数据体验下的主观叙事。他们的作品涉及视觉艺术、计算机工程和叙事,使用实时获取的数据创建多感官体验。

I&C的作品在国际范围展出,其中包括英国维多利亚与艾尔伯特博物馆、伦敦的Waterman艺术中心,深圳的华侨城OCT艺术中心,奥迪CITY北京,上海当代艺术博物馆。2014年I&C创作了中国当代艺术互动数据可视化作品, WOW CCAA, 展出于上海当代艺术博物馆(PSA)。2013年,I&C联合策划了中国第一个数据艺术展览,《信息新浪潮——英国信息可视化艺术设计展》,展出于中央美术学院美术馆。

龙星如拥有英国皇家艺术学院的硕士学位。周 姜杉拥有英国中央圣马丁艺术与设计学院及伦敦大学金匠学院的硕士学位。

INTERVIEW THE LOOK OF DATA Li Zhenhua X I&C
Iris Xinru Long= I
Cedar Shan Zhou= C
1 August 2014

LZH: We now look at the notion of “information”in such a broad way; even primitive records of knot tying hold a sense of graphical beauty. The rise of computer science has given information a new kind of status. We could hardly say that “information is beautiful”before the digital era, because it used to be purely statistical and fairly rigid. Now we are witnessing a different scenario; could you introduce the moment when information became visualised, or became a focus of aesthetic works?


C: The notion of visualising information could be dated back to cave paintings. However, information visualisation has only become a way of visual representation since the birth of cartography. Different from documenting information with semiotics or images, the map was invented to provide a brand new angle to “see”the world. The map gives you a bird’s eye view, to experience something that can never be touchable on the Earth. It’s the same with info-graphics; Florence Nightingale’s rose diagrams are great early examples of combining information and visuals. Information visualisation, in its observation of reality, its perspective and expression, is very similar to many other artistic processes.

L: The history of data visualisation can be succinctly summarised as our journey to explore and describe to others those phenomenons with untouchable, invisible boundaries; for instance, Michael Florent van Langren’s early graphs of statistical data, early compass maps, the moment when the abstract notion of “longitude” became real, where all visual transformations of the untouchable geographical data to came life. Florence Nightingale and Francis Galton’s graphs were, on the other hand, visual transformations of sociological phenomena. The dawn of the computer age and digital storage provided a new kind of expressive medium, or mediation tool – the data, somehow opening doors for those who sought different aesthetic tools and design methodologies in this particular historical period.

LZH: Very interesting answers. We ought to re-discover ways of reading data, and build new understandings from these new ways of reading. What kind of dimensions does data visualisation provide?

L: Clouds of data and fragmented, scattered pieces of information do not construct meaning directly. Data visualisation’s role here is a journey of re-discovering these contents. Data visualisation is not only an analytical tool, it also provides a canon for narratives which include deconstruction or reconstruction of conventional, linear narratives, through creative composition of sensational experiences of narrative.

C: Data visualisation can be viewed as a process of mapping invisible data to visual languages, further concluding phenomenon that are external to sensational experience, such as visual, audio, or other types of haptic experiences. Data visualisation itself, according to the nature of its approaches, can also be categorised as static, moving (such as animation), or interactive. Interactive visualisation is becoming more and more significant in this field of study today. When audiences can closely observe these invisible phenomena and data, and even provide input or intervention, they will also become relational and have impacts on the data. In this way the infinite data feedback loop starts.

LZH: Your recent project is the archival visualisation for CCAA (China Contemporary Art Award) and Mr Uli Sigg. Could you introduce this project to us? Audiences saw a presentation of systematically moving images, texts and videos – are there any more details of the project that you’d like to share? Will this project carry on? And will data visualisation help people better comprehend information?

L: CCAA Tunnel is composed of two parts: a looping seven-minute sequence of programmed frameworks, and a visitor interaction mechanism called “CCAA Now”, projected onto the surface of a fabric curtain covering both sides of a 50-metre-long corridor in the Shanghai Power Station ofArt. While the physical corridor links different spatial sections of the exhibition, the piece enlarges this central linking area into a virtual, 3D space where visitors can walk into and interact with.

The archive of fifteen years of Chinese contemporary art is translated into four visual movements with embedded narratives. Archive contents, including texts, images and videos, are simultaneously components of visual forms and representational information addressing four analytical aspects. The four frameworks construct a storyline of the show: “impression”, “birth”, “time”, and “award”, each addressing one aspect of China’s first contemporary art award, of which winning works from 1998 to 2014 are exhibited in the space.

C: In most situations, the purpose of data visualisation is not necessarily to help people comprehend information. Instead, data visualisation, in the same way as other forms of artistic expression, could be a way of providing a different approach to a question. This new angle can provide audiences with a unique and less generic experience, which may inspire their exploration of a question, and which might also lead to new understandings of the same phenomena.

Our long-lasting interest and research direction lie in the relationship between data and experience, especially the subjective narrative embedded in data experience. The CCAA 15 Years project is our first attempt in visualising, or “experientializing”art archives. We found this project very exciting and inspiring. It brought up some new research points, such as the social contextualisation of data and modes of experience in exhibition settings. We are currently working with Chronus Art Centre in establishing a research project on archivisation of new media art, and experiences of this archive.

LZH: Experience is essential to the reading of information. I’m interested in your attitudes towards interactivity. Do you think, in some cases, interactive methods or interfaces set boundaries that can limit the imagination?

L: Interactive methods are “linguistic transformations” to me; they are essentially processes of translating between information and experience. The translator, however, can be precise, or thoughtless. David Rokeby set a precedent for interactive art when he first translated body movements into sound fields. It was the inception of an exhilarating era of interactive art. However, as more and more people today have developed a fundamental sense of how interactive processes are composed of transformations of various data and signals, the magic of “interactivity”demystifies itself. Against this backdrop, the definition of “good interaction”is now less about technology, and more about the precision, reasoning and beauty of the “translation”. Good “translation”s(interactivity) ought to be haptic, resonating and contextually sensible, and not mystical or pretentious. In terms of interfaces, I believe the definition is more open; for instance, in Tino Sehgal’s work, participants usually become the “interface”through which information flow is carried from mouth to mouth. A media artist with an open mind will create “interfaces”nor rules that open up one’s imagination, as oppose to limiting it.

C: The process of data visualization has its roots in databases. In computational science, a database is defined as a structured collection of data. Many new media objects do not tell stories; they don’t have a beginning or end; in fact, they don’t have any development, thematically, formally or otherwise, which would organise their elements into a sequence.

Viewing and researching on a database has significant differences from reading a novel or watching a film, due to its detachment from linear narratives. From data sourcing, analysing and representing, each step will have an impact on the final output. I personally think that introducing the viewer’s subjective experiences into each of these steps is the most interesting and challenging part of data visualisation.

LZH: There are numerous ways of transforming or visualising information. I remember in one of the exhibitions you curated, there was a really striking and touching piece developed by British artist Luke Jerram. He used 3D printing to create a sculpture – a seismogram of the Tōhoku earthquake rotated through 360 degrees. Does this visualisation veil the reality of the earthquake itself? Or does it provide an alternative approach for the audiences to intervene and contemplate reality? Do data art and data visualisation generate alternative realities?

C: No. Artistic expression can be described as generating a reality. In many cases, an artwork provides one or multiple angles to view that reality. When someone is attracted by an artwork’s perspective or expression, he or she might notice things that slip their usual attention, or even observe things from a brand new perspective. This conceptual inspiration might lead to changes of views, or to further actions. In this sense, this artwork sends a message to the future.

L: It depends on the framing when we discuss data visualisation. As a scientific analytic tool in fields such as astronomy, physics or biology, data visualisation is intended for the delivery of scientific precision; it is by nature responsible for a factual reality. However, even in the spectrum of science, due to the differences or uncertainty of data sources, analytical principles or visualising methods, data visualisation is still far from a perfect representation of “the reality”.

However, when we move to the notion of data visualisation as art, we focus more on how – as Cedar has pointed out – data visualisation provides angles to view reality. In essence, it is similar to other instances of creative processes. If there is one “reality”to be explored, it is the reality of the current society – a society largely digitalised, a society in which information is a mass phenomenon, in a more liberated way. Medieval art was echoing with the reality of a theological society, and Renaissance thinking reflected on a society of humanism, while data art – or all sorts of digital art – communicates ideas of a society of pervasive information, of internet tribalism, of technological phenomena suffused in people’s lives. Of course, we do believe that a new kind of “reality”will somehow be born from this background.

LZH: Does that mean creating a kind of alternative reality? As oppose to reflecting on or replacing reality?

L: I think “to replace reality”is a bold statement. In fact, if we are to discuss the concept of “reality”, I think any mediated fact is re-constructed reality, sometimes “hyperreality” (see Jean Baudrillard). Our artworks are more about extending new structures and envisioning new scenarios based on factual existence, which is data.

C: Every kind of media has its own way of representing the world. What databases showcase is a world with structure but without linear order. This is in huge contrast to conventional narrative which is based on cause-effect relationships and chronological narratives. Before data visualisation, the creator had the priority to design how the world is represented in his work. However, when real-time calculation and computation are involved in artworks, audiences are then empowered with the same right to choose, to navigate, even to update an artwork, just the same as the creator himself.

信息的模样
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李振华 X 龙心如、周姜杉 ( L=龙心如 | C=周姜杉)

李振华:今日人们对信息的看法有着很大的改观,哪怕是过去古人的绳结、刻度等,都还有被发现图形化的美感,信息借助着电脑的兴起,开始呈现出一种很特别的情况,我想之前我们很难说信息是美的,因为信息就是一些数字或是刻板的数据存在。你们能否介绍一下信息什么时候开始成为了图形,什么时候开始成为美学工作的关注点?

C:我想信息成为图形可以追溯洞穴壁画。但信息图形作为一种视觉表达方式,我觉得地图是一个开始。与单纯的用符号和图形去记录和保存信息不同,地图更多的是为了描述特定的现实,并提供一个不同的视角。地图就好像是脱离人类身体,安置在天空中的第三个眼睛,人们通过这个眼睛看到平时难以感知的内容。信息图表在这方面也是一样,南丁格尔的玫瑰图就是很好结合信息和视觉的案例。在创作地图或者是图表的过程中,对现实的观察,提出新的视角和表法方式,和很多艺术创作的过程是相似的。

L: 从信息成为图形角度来说,信息可视化的历史可以被看作人类对“边界不直接可感知”的事物,使用直接视觉语言(到后来多重感官)描述的转化过程。比如说Michael Florent van Langren 的早期地理统计图、早期的航海图,是对空间距离的视觉转化,南丁格尔 和高尔顿 的图例则是对社会问题的视觉转化。计算时代的到来和电子储存的兴起则为信息成为美学工作关注点提供了契机。传统艺术设计领域在特定历史时期遇到了表达瓶颈,信息广布的现实则提供了新的媒材和“工具”。

李振华:很有趣的回答,一方面我们需要从新认识数据的阅读方式,同时通过这些阅读的方式理解认知。数据视觉化所提供的是一个怎样的纬度?

L: 大面积的数据和片段化的信息本身很难直接构成意义,而数据艺术提供的维度在我看来是对这些内容的重新发现。信息可视化并不只是分析的工具,也是在提出新的叙事,这种叙事包括对传统线性结构的打破和重构、以及在感官体验上的重新组合。

C:数据可视化可以认为是把不可见的数据,映射(map)到视觉上,将那些超越人们感知能力的现象纳入到我们的视觉以及其他感官的范围。数据可视化的类型根据不同的方面的侧重,分为静态的、动态的 (比如动画)以及互动的。后者在今天也变得越来越重要。当人们可以实时的观察曾经不能感知的现象,甚至给予输入或介入时,人们便开始与这些现象产生了关系和影响。

李振华:你们最近的工作是帮助Uli Sigg先生的CCAA15年,介绍一下这个项目,因为观众看到的只是不同运动着的图像和系统的呈现,这个项目会持续吗?信息的图形化会更好的帮助人理解知识吗?

L:CCAA通道是CCAA十五周年纪念展的文献可视化工程。它由两个部分组成:包含四个章节的7分钟可视化展示和现场观众二维码互动系统。作品投影在上海Power Station of Art的三十五米通道两侧,形成“CCAA通道”。

在CCAA通道里,CCAA十五周年的历史文献被转译成四个视觉章节,文献内容既是视觉形态的组成元素,也是交互的载体。观众通过二维码可以对展场作品提交评价,观众评价会实时成为CCAA通道的一部分,并与历史上CCAA评委对作品的评价并置。物理通道对展览的各个空间进行衔接,而CCAA通道投影则创建一个3D的虚拟空间,观众可以进入,并与之对话。

C: 信息可视化的创作在很多情况下并不一定是为了帮助人理解知识。和其他的表达形式一样,也可以是对一个问题提出不同的视角。观众可以从这个视角或者表达中得到一种不同的体验。这个体验可能会激发他们对一个事物的兴趣,也可能会让观众建立对一个事物更多的理解。

数据与感知的关系,及数据体验下的主观叙事,是我们的一个长期兴趣点和研究方向。在CCAA15年的这个项目,是我们第一次在文献可视化或者说体验化的尝试。我们发现这是一个非常有趣的经历,而且很多的点都非常值得探索的,比如说社会语境和感知方式等。我们正与上海新时线新媒体艺术中心合作建立实验室探讨新媒体的文献记录和体验的课题。

李振华:体验是一种阅读的必须,我很关心体验的交互方式,很多时候交互方式或者界面也局限了想像力。

L: 交互的方式在我看来是一种语言的转译,和翻译一样,有精妙者也有粗糙者。David Rokeby 最早把身体动作转译成声音环境时,确实开辟了一种令人激动的时代。然而到今天,绝大多数人都能意识到,所谓交互就是不同形式的数据和讯号之间相互转化的实质时,好的交互便不仅在于技术,也在于这种转译是否合理而精妙。在我看来,这种转译需要是可被感知的、可有共鸣的、可符语境的,而非故弄玄虚的、故作高深的。至于交互的界面,可以有多种理解。比如大家都熟悉的Tino Sehgal ,在他的作品中,人是媒介、人也是交互的界面。一个想法开放的媒体艺术家,他/她创设的界面或者规则,应当是放开而非局限想像力的。
C:数据可视化的创作是从数据库开始的。在计算机科学中,数据库被定义为有结构的数据集合。每一个数据都是独立的,没有开始,没有结尾,每一个元素也没有什么重要性的区别。对数据库的观看与定位,同阅读故事或者是看电影是非常不同的。数据库的建立从搜集、整理到呈现,每一步都会影响到最终的结果。我个人认为如何能够把体验者的主观经验和体验带入到每一个环节是最非常趣而且富于挑战性的。

李振华:信息的转化有很多种,你们之前展览中介绍的那位英国艺术家(Luke Jerram:英国数据艺术家)很打动我,他将地震的图形三维打印了出来,形成一个小小的雕塑,这一转化是否遮蔽了真实,或者让观者更希望介入和理解真实本身呢?信息艺术和视觉化是否也在塑造另外的真实,并通过转化获得新生?

C: 任何一个艺术表达都很难说是去再现一个全面的真实。作为一个作品来说,很多情况是提供的一个或者是多个看待真实的角度。当一个观众被一件作品的视角或表达所吸引,开始去关注一个平时可能不会去关注的事物,或者从一个从来没有过的角度来看待一个事物。这样认知上所造成的改变可能会影响到他的某些看法甚至是行为。从某种意义上来说,这个作品所提供的信息影响了未来。

L: 信息可视化作为科学分析方法,无疑需要对真实本身负责,然而即使在科学语境中,也从未生成过在数据来源、筛选法则、视觉化等方面,都完美诠释“真实”的模型。当我们在艺术创作的语境中讨论这个议题时,则更多地注重于就像Cedar所说的,提供回应社会现实的视角。从本质上来说,这和所有的艺术创作过程是一样的。如果说一定有一种“真实”需要被讨论,这种“真实”就是当下社会的数据化、信息化的现状。中世纪艺术回应的是神学社会的真实,文艺复兴艺术回应的是人本社会的真实,信息可视化则回应的是商业社会已经成型,当下信息弥漫的社会真实。真实的“新生”当然是被期待的。:)

李振华:也就是创造出一种另外的真实,而不仅仅在于反应或是替代真实?

L: 我觉得“替代真实”听起来很大胆。要讨论“真实”的概念的话,任何媒介化的事物都是真实的重构,有时甚至是“过度真实”(hyperreality)。我们的创作更多地是在真实元素(数据)的基础上来延展新的结构和情境。

C: 每一个媒介都有它自己的呈现世界的方式。数据库呈现的是一个只有结构但没有顺序的世界,这和传统的、建立在因果联系和先后顺序基础上的叙事是对立的。在数据可视化之前,世界如何被呈现是创作者预设的。当数据能够被实时运算的时候,数据的体验者便有可能被赋予与创作者同样的选择权利。

2014年8月1日

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