In brief, this project is about using the cucumber, which is the primary tool, as my object to explore the complexity of the world. Especially engaging this element in different dimensions as well as the time and space, and building simulacra in various kinds of ways. Meanwhile, it is about doing unconscious training and exploring the correlated action logic.
(Exercices de style, 20.03.2022 adding)
So far, with doing the unconscious mapping, it has been developed a series of branch lines with 15 ideas and some related output, including drawings, films, sculptures, collages and some visual document. Generally speaking, this mapping connects to cucumber or time and space; some of them play with the relationship of sound and action; some get into the journey of imagination. Taken together, these experiments look more like the acquisition of inspiration, which helps me to expand my thinking and enrich my creativity. Besides, the mapping experience is a kind of like the process before doing the actual design on the computer, which is the project design planning and finding the connection between visual and concept.
It is surprised me that I found some abnormal connections during this unconscious training, which means maybe some ideas will get the response about “What the hell is she doing!”. For example, at the beginning of doing the divergent thinking, I walked through the Greenwich Tunnel and took a picture every three steps, producing 183 photos in five minutes. Try to imagine, placing these pictures in the space where they had been taken and enlarging them to the actual size of the tunnel. Viewed from a distance, this is a tunnel but cut into the slices. I try to visualise the equal time within the space of the tunnel when I took the picture and walked at the same time. Summarising this action is to decompose the coherent tunnel into photographs. In other words, it could see those photos as the separation of time and space. Interestingly, I found the action of taking pictures in the tunnel is very similar to other activities of cutting a cucumber, so I combined these two seemingly unrelated behaviours into a short film. I prefer to understand this as a visual and auditory montage, which is absurd but also humorous.
Generally speaking, doing this training is not following the convention, but to seek innovative exploration methods, using different approaches to analyze the materials and information I hold from different angles and directions. This way of thinking allows me to have a larger space for reflection. For instance, taking cucumber as the object, I mobilized my knowledge of time and space, and make associations with sound and action, generated multiple unique ideas and expanded my imagination. Basically, the mode of using divergent thinking to analyze problems is to think outside the established framework, so that to propose innovative ideas in the process of exploring multiple possibilities.
The behavioural logic of this project was not designed in the first place. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the unconscious action kind of like a discovery of imagination. It wasn’t even realised that there is a connection behind these actions. And it does exist.
During the later philosophy exploration of Jean Baudrillard, he described the “Orders of Simulacra” and the “Phases of the Image”, which including four levels of orders of simulacra and the corresponding four levels at which creation represents reality:
Symbolic Order: the simulacrum is a reflection of a profound reality.
First Order of Simulacra: the simulacrum perverts a basic reality.
Second Order of Simulacra: the simulacrum masks the absence of a basic reality.
Third Order of Simulacra: the simulacrum has no relation to reality at all.
When I look at all the pieces that I've done, I found that my methodology of creation is unexpectedly matching with his idea of simulacra, which means my thoughts relate to simulation and can be divided into different levels. For example, a number of my works are exploring the connection to the real world; some are wandering my mind and creating abnormal results, and few are the recreation of produced project. In a word, I combined my experiments with Baudrillard's ideas and categorised them into my methodology framework. In my project, cucumber as the simulacrum to compare with seemingly unrelated objects and find out the potential possibilities, and the way of simulation mainly focus on sensory montage, for instance, action and sound.
In all, “Qucumber’s Adventures in Flatland” is dedicated to taking cucumber as the most daily object of research and looking for its relationship with time and space. The whole process contains many experiments, as well as different forms of expression, including movies, web design, collage, painting, installation, etc. Specifically, this project divided into two modules, namely unconscious training and behavioural logic. The former one is to express and create as much as possible around the theme, and the latter is to find the action logic behind self-creation. While in the section of mapping with cucumber, I engaged working with humour sense and imagination and finding the abnormal connection with cucumber and the world we are experiencing. What's more, when I ride on the roller coaster of imagination, there will always be some surprises, for instance, the connection of cutting cucumber and taking photos. I prefer to understand it as a treasure of unconscious wandering, which is difficult for me to achieve by conventional operations. The second part is for organizing those experience I did, and I found the correlation between my creations and the theory of simulacra by Jean Baudrillard. The four levels of simulacra correspond to my logic of design, which presents that subconscious wandering does not mean thinking randomly. Afterwards, I combined the framework with my categorized projects then to create a new website with a more logical layout as my final outcome.
0.1. Cucumber in the flatland
Speaking of the “Cucumber in the flatland”, I used a scanner to scan the cucumber in multiple ways. For example, to keep the scanned cucumber away from the plane of the scanner, then I got a blurred visual image. Or I suddenly moved the cucumber during the scan process, and then a segmented but continuous image was produced. To imagine the scanner is the eye of two-dimensional creature, and the scanned pictures are what it can see. Then the scanned cucumber it sees come in many forms. According to its understanding, what it sees can be different cucumbers or the same one can be transformed into various formats. But from the perspective of the three-dimensional world, this is just a static cucumber. This kind of behaviour quite similar to what a book called “Flatland” illustrated, which is to imagine a state of being in a lower dimension than the human one, and use a dimensionality reduction vision to reverse and examine our existing world. And that is how the name “Cucumber in the flatland” comes from, as well as the title of the whole process: “Qucumber’s Adventures in Flatland”. Therefore, the images of scanned cucumber as the lower-dimensional simulacrum is doing a reflection of a 3D reality.
0.2. How long does five minutes look like
“How long does five minutes look like?” is another thinking of the reality that we exactly living in. This project uses a scanning technique called slit-scan, which’s camera and film moving at the same time to create a panoramic picture. What interest me most is while I was using this technique to scan the film about walking through the tunnel, it is equivalent to visualise the time into a panorama. Similarity go with “Four dimensional worm” that GaoMing mentioned in his book “Genius or Psychotic”, which means that in the time we have traveled, we in all spaces exist at the same time. In other words, in the dimension of time, we are like a continuous line in the three-dimensional space, starting at the moment we were born and ending at the present moment. This process is more likely a reasonable association and thinking about the real world.
1.1. Watches in another dimension
“Watches in another dimension” illustrates the clock with sliced cucumber shape, and it is kind of like the distorted clock in Dali’s painting “The Persistence of Memory”.
“Collapse” describes a situation of space collapse, the outlook of whole section is a cucumber which is a representation of some form of space. The collapsed part of the area simulates the creases of a dried cucumber.
1.3. Peeling into the timeline
“Peeling into the timeline” simulates a situation of peeling a cucumber into continuous strips, like peeling an apple. The whole stripe looks like a lifetime of experiences, and the veins on it are experiences. It can also be understood as an electrocardiogram of experience. Once life is over, the cucumber is cut off, and the veins on it will not continue.