Scroll down for EN
或许我们都曾见过罗伯特·史密森（Robert Smithson）《螺旋防波堤》（Spiral Jetty）的照片：一个位于湖岸、半浸在水体中、以泥土和玄武岩筑成的巨大螺线形地景。但自二十一世纪以来，随着气候变化与城市化过量用水，湖岸线渐远，曾经浸没在水中、被盐结晶覆盖的《螺旋防波堤》如今裸露于风中，已难以触到溢满盐藻的玫红色湖水。
艺术家邵妍的田野研究始于《螺旋防波堤》所在的大盐湖（The Great Salt Lake）与环绕盐湖的博纳维尔盐滩（Bonneville Salt Flats）。这一片位于美国犹他州西北部的区域在冰河时代更新世曾是一片辽阔的淡水湖泊——博纳维尔湖（Lake Bonneville）。它从一万四千年前开始逐渐干涸，在近两千年时缩至大盐湖目前的大小。
邵妍以这段旅程为启发创作的装置作品《留给感受那风》（Left To Feel That Wind）以盐、沙、水形成的“地图”再现大盐湖与博纳维尔湖间的地质联系。盐滩在漫长时间内逐渐变化的地貌和百万年间的水文过程被浓缩进展览空间内重建的盐沙景观：架于天花板的计算机数控机床（CNC）缓慢地将水滴下，在水泥地面上一片博纳维尔湖形状的盐沙混合物中描绘出大盐湖的轮廓。
“人类世”（Anthropocene）以人类这一相对具有短暂寿命的物种来命名一个地质时代，似乎显得自恋且短视。但邵妍认为这一概念提醒了人类为地球带来不可否认的持续影响，《留给感受那风》也意在以超越单一时空的角度探讨从二十世纪后半期开始的“大加速时代”（The Great Acceleration）中人类活动对生态环境造成急剧且不可逆转的变化。
学者希瑟·戴维斯（Heather Davis）与艾蒂安·图尔平（Etienne Turpin）在《人类世的艺术》（Art in the Anthropocene）中写道，“人类世”首先是一种“感官现象”——生活在一个日益缩减和被损害的世界中的体验。而这一体验通过我们的感知，如声音和视觉，被构建与解构，如人类学家罗安清（Anna Tsing）所言，艺术提供了一种不受限的、超越科学客观的“感官策略”以触及事物间的相互联系。
《藻类合唱》的部分灵感来源于地球的大氧化事件（Great Oxygenation Event）：24亿至20亿年前期间，地球大气中的氧气含量大幅升高，使得真核生物及随后动植物（包括人类）的诞生成为可能。根据琳•马古利斯（Lynn Margulis）的内共生学说，进行光合作用的叶绿体由蓝菌（旧称蓝藻）演变而来：早期的真核细胞“包裹”住蓝菌，形成具有双重膜叶绿体的藻类——这一真核生物提供了今天地球上百分之七十的氧气。如若跟随马古利斯的研究，细胞的吞噬也可以说是融合；生命体的形成则源于共生协作，而非达尔文所断言的竞争与标准的自然选择。我们的彼此“缠绕”不仅仅是一种隐喻，而关乎地球上复杂的生命演化。
Yan Shao: Sound of Geology
Perhaps we have seen images of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty: an earthwork built from mud and basalt rocks, partially immersed in water, coiling from the lake’s shore. But since the 21st century, with the effects of climate change and urbanization, the shoreline has been receding; the once waterlogged salt-covered Spiral Jetty is bare in the wind and hardly touches the pink water overflowing with salt algae.
Artist Yan Shao’s field research began at the northwestern region of Utah—The Great Salt Lake, where Spiral Jetty locates, and the surrounding Bonneville Salt Flats. This area, once a vast freshwater lake called Lake Bonneville during the Pleistocene epoch of the Ice Age, began drying up approximately 14,000 years ago, gradually shrinking to its current size over the past 2,000 years.
Yan stepped into these salt flats last winter. During that season, the salt flats were no longer the smooth “sky mirror” that they appeared to be in the summer. In the cold air, the crystalized salt mingled with mud, forming layers and intricate structures reminiscent of our cellular tissues and neural networks. Standing on the expansive flats, we might trace back to the era before Lake Bonneville disappeared. As Yan describes, we could imagine we humans were travelling to the time of being archaea, floating in the saltwater.
Inspired by this trip, Yan’s installation Left To Feel That Wind uses a “map” of salt, sand, and water to present the geological connection between the Great Salt Lake and Lake Bonneville. In the exhibition space, the ever-changing landscapes of the salt flats and the hydrological processes spanning millions of years are condensed into the saltscape. A computer numerical control (CNC) machine, suspended from the ceiling, slowly drips water onto a mixture of salt and sand that is shaped to resemble Lake Bonneville, outlining the contour of the Great Salt Lake.
The sound of dripping water and the hum from the moving CNC entangle and reverberate in the space, which might trigger auditory illusions. The installation, functioning as a timekeeping instrument based on sound, alludes to the concept of precise time in human cognition. The time system we have designed is homogenous, disregarding the subtle variations caused by the rotations of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. But time itself is not confined to measurements such as seconds, hours, and years. Both organic and inorganic substances possess their own temporal scales.
It seems narcissistic and shortsighted that the term “Anthropocene” assigns the name of a geological epoch to humans, a species that has relatively short lifespans. But Yan thinks that this concept reminds us of the ongoing and undeniable impact that humans have had on the Earth. Left To Feel That Wind also intends to transcend the single perception of spacetime, delving into the rapid and irreversible changes brought by human activities on the ecological environment during The Great Acceleration.
The Great Salt Lake locates in a landlocked basin, isolated from other bodies of water, which makes it difficult to communicate directly with the sea, and thus more vulnerable to the effects of climate change: the lake's water level has been decreasing du to rising temperatures and the following droughts in recent years. However, the trajectory of the ecological crisis has never been unidirectional: the shrinking surface of the lake has exposed heavy metals, such as arsenic, from the soil of the lake bed to the air, which spreads with the wind and reaches the human respiratory system.
Left To Feel That Wind also recreates the perceptual experience of when being on the salt flats. In the exhibition space, there was the wet and salty smell of water evaporating in the mixture of salt and sand. The presence of matter, taking air as its conductor, precedes visible form and permeates our breath.
In the book Art in the Anthropocene, scholars Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin describes the Anthropocene as “primarily a sensorial phenomenon: the experience of living in an increasingly diminished and toxic world.” And this experience is constructed and deconstructed through our senses, including sound and vision. As anthropologist Anna Tsing puts it, art provides unconfined "sensual strategies" that transcend scientific objectivity to engage with the interconnections and intra-actions between things.
Another installation by Yan, Algae Chorus, makes the photosynthesis process visible and audible. Inside glass bottles collected from various places, different types and densities of algae show a range of green shades in the water. As people pass by and block the light in front of the work, light sensors on each bottle are triggered, generating a series of synthesized audio, as if the sound of the algae's respiration and reproduction in the water are amplified, forming an ensemble.
Algae Chorus draws inspiration from the Great Oxygenation Event, which occurred between 2.4 and 2 billion years ago when the Earth's atmosphere experienced a dramatic rise in oxygen levels. This event made the emergence of eukaryotes and subsequently plants and animals (including humans) possible. According to Lynn Margulis’ symbiogenesis, the chloroplasts that carry out photosynthesis evolved from cyanobacteria: early eukaryotic cells "wrapped" around the cyanobacteria to form algae with double-membraned chloroplasts—this eukaryote provides 70 percent of the oxygen on Earth today. If we follow Margulies' study, the engulfment of cells can also be described as fusion; the formation of living organisms is rooted in symbiotic collaboration, rather than, as Darwin asserted, in competition and standard natural selection. Our "entanglement" is not merely a metaphor, but is about the complex coevolution of life on Earth.
In Yan's installation, the "chorus" is not only between the algae, but also includes the process of composing with humans. The single-celled cyanobacteria in these bottles feed on the carbon dioxide we exhale, and emit oxygen for humans and other organisms to survive. In photosynthesis, we humans also participate in the carbon cycle, breathing with plants.
In Yan’s works, the macroscopic change of the salt flats and the microscopic reproduction of cyanobacteria are transformed into human-perceivable sounds and smells, allowing us to draw nearer to the fundamental substances that are integral to life on Earth—salt, oxygen, and water—and presenting a planetary intimacy.