May Co-sensus: Demo-stream in Democracy
Photo credit: Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
「民主」真的仍是大家所期待的體制或說政治狀態嗎？這問題自會引發更多問題，但可以肯定的是以「民主」為名的根本追求是「好生活」或退一步說「可以好好生活」，意即由全體關係而得以保障「好好生活」，而不是先決地對抽象政治概念的支持。事實上，「民主」之「民」指的是尚未被賦權之人，他們可能是外來者、被歧視者、無名者，意即廣義的「例外者」，因此「民主」就意味以這些人成為「政治主體」或「體制的決策組成」的歷程；讓體制外的無權者成為主體，便是民主的最大挑戰，同時也因為這挑戰而構成「民主」源源不絕的動能。在新冠病毒、新冷戰成形與準內戰（如佛洛伊德事件讓「Black Lives Matter」左派運動復活）蠢蠢欲動的2020年，無疑地，作為在亞洲生活的人而言，更能深刻體會這個地區對於世界的重要性不應該只是經濟奇蹟、新興市場與廉價勞動力而已，更重要且關鍵的是在現代性底下倖存的生活經驗多樣性，與被現代性掩蓋的有機宇宙觀。這些重要精神資源的形成與七十年代末、八十年代的民主化經驗有非常大的關係，甚至其中的相關性至今產生著內在性的不斷轉化。台灣自然也參與其中，作為戰後國際角力的結果（即未確定體制），通過冷戰部署與國際結盟下允許的極權體制進行國家現代化（世界生產鏈），在爆出經濟奇蹟後隨即面對冷戰結束前夕的政治經濟自由化，在「他制」中不斷尋求「自治」空間成為台灣及許多亞洲人的經驗。其中的重要性就在於我們經歷這些層疊的倖存經驗後，更磨合出各種有機的給予式活性（affording vivacities），換言之，亞洲民主化的重要性不是「自由化」的法形式革命而已，而是不斷連結他者、他物種、他物質的「生機化」。
隨著疫情的擴張，對於「他者」的排擠再度出現，「群聚」和國籍身份也因而成為可疑的項目，但生命的危機卻讓更多人能夠匯聚並追求確實的訊息與觀點，人們開始以不同層次的「共感」進行新的群聚。這樣的現象揭示未來的改變會發生在多重世界中，經由單一位址的具體群聚、聚集出再現意識形態的影像必須是多重運動的一環，而不是唯一，因此如何群聚？或說群聚能夠創造出什麼場域？是我們今天必須面對的政治挑戰。「諸眾」（multitude）作為後共產、後冷戰、無共識（即無單一意識形態）、去中心化時代的「群聚」，成為許多人對於社會團結和動員的主要慾望和無政府想像，但同時間商業市場中的「i」意識形態也大張旗鼓地席捲了整個市場，再加上網路社群平台的「運算」，「集體」必然在這樣的抵消中難以發生。明顯地，民主與群聚的關聯遠比和意識形態之間更為關鍵，當群聚不再能夠通過意識形態或認同來運作，而是以「認同的情感動員」（affective mobilization of identity）之外的「動情力」（affect）要素與「迷因」（meme）來連動，動情力、迷因要素促成了關係性的流動（relational flux），並以此產生群聚乃至於集體的發生，簡言之，群聚並非認同的凝結與完成，而是認同被再現之前的「共感」（co-sensus）事件。
「五月」是中國的一九年、法國的六八年、南韓的八○年，也是台灣的八八年，五月讓二十世紀充滿變革與年輕的能量，因為「春天」的氣候適合外出、適合認識新朋友，或許利於表達自己、適合吶喊！現在，我們面對的可是二十一世紀的五月，如果再次召喚二十世紀的這些五月，為的不就是再次夢想外出交朋友、以更細膩的心思來搖撼這個世界的季節。因此，我們在這特別的季節與南韓光雙基金會的金宣廷合作策展，主要關注點是重新思考80年代的民主化，台灣的部分特別專注在生成挑戰體制與霸權的決定性力量，並形成了民眾匯流的臨時集體性：众流（DemoStream）。通過「众流」，我們希望從藝術家的思考和作品中，看到這些充滿活力的匯聚與運動中更多的層次，試圖提出生物政治時期民主化的生態觀點。民主運動也代表著新的共同生活觀念，新的感性分配以及新的共同生存世界的出現。台北將於2020年4月30日在關渡美術館開幕，並於八月下旬在光州正式展覽的計畫預展。計劃在DemoStream主題下呈現連結人們的共感「流」，如思緒流（陳界仁、程展緯）、資訊流（陳紹雄、流水生）、人形流（張紋瑄、Ei Arakawa & Inza Lim）、拓撲流（王虹凱、Yooseung Jung）、痛感流（張明曜、王兵）。陳界仁嘗試呈現人們的感知對於保存面對未來生命所需能量的重要性，「中空之地」呈現這樣的保存是一種建構個人知識宇宙（能量與感受的保存）的手段，程展緯則呈現如何在面對香港警暴後衍伸出的思緒、而陳紹雄對於運動影像的水墨速寫和「流水生」（黃宇鵬、張美宇、蔣永祥）對於運動圖像和影音的編輯，則先後分別對於「世界」（結構）與「環境」（處境）對於媒體共感進行測量，張紋瑄、Ei Arakawa & Inza Lim以人的不同角色重組運動與政治敘事，創造出思辯性與反思之間的張力與關係，讓這些角色在歷史性的基礎上，成為重新架建批判性關係的共感要素，王虹凱、Yooseung Jung則通過對於事件脈絡中的「生命地理學」的考察，嘗試描繪並凸顯出既有框架中未被接受的「力」，並在計畫或作品中將力被重置於關係中而激發出新的場域，王兵、張明曜專注在個體深刻的存在感（痛感）與環境或事件之間的關係，當然痛感一直都是民主敘事中很重要的因素，因為民主化運動所引致的犧牲與隨後的創傷都會在身體上聚積為「痛」，也因此，「痛」具有強滲透性的共感。
“I was able to see all of that because I was still stuck fast to my body, then.”
Han Kang, Human Acts (2014), translated by Deborah Smith (2016)
The Democratization Movements: Asian Vitalizations
Is democracy really the system or political state that everyone aspires to nowadays? This question will cause more problems, but what is certain is that the fundamental pursuit in name of democracy is that of a good life or at least, let’s say, to live well. This implies that a good life is guaranteed by collective relationships, not by a priori support for abstract political concepts. In fact, the demos of democracy refers to people who have not been empowered. They may be outsiders, discriminated people, and anonymous people—“exceptionists” in a broad sense—so democracy stands for the process of transforming these people into political subjects, of making them become part of institutional decision-making. Allowing the unauthorized outsiders be the subjects is democracy’s biggest challenge, and this challenge becomes its endless dynamic.
With the COVID-19 pandemic emerged the formation of a new Cold War, and a pro-civil war—namely, the death of George Floyd resurrecting the Black Lives Matter leftist movement. For those of us living in Asia, it is now possible to better understand that the contribution of this region and its habitants should not only be circumscribed to economic miracles, emerging markets, and cheap labor. Far more important and critical are matters such as the diversity of life experiences that have survived under modernity, and the organic cosmologies masked by the modern ways. The formation of these vital spiritual resources emerged in coherence with the democratization experiences of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and even the correlations between these movements in different geographies have produced immanent transformations.
Taiwan, naturally, also played a part. As a result of the post-war international power game, the country was modernized in the midst of Cold War dispositions. The dictatorial system allowed for international alliances—interested in progressing the world production chain—to rule, and Taiwan faced its political and economical liberalization in the eve of the post-Cold War scenario that broke out after the economic miracle. The constant creation of autonomous spaces under the ruling heteronomy became common in Taiwan’s and many other Asian countries’ experiences. This also determined that the people of these countries could forge an environment where they could live in more sharable, vibrant conditions. In other words, the most important aspect of democratization in Asia is not only a revolution of juridical forms of liberalization, but a vitalization that continuously connects the “Other,” other species, and other materials.
The Clustering of Multi-layered Co-Sensus
In the twenty-first century, left-wing critical thinking has been paralyzed by the decadent Cold War complex and the hypocrisy of political correctness, which has even led to the failure and collapse of politics in general. This phenomenon makes intellectuals either compose words that fail to generate social empathy or self-complacently remain silent, aphasic when faced with today’s fascist tendencies. Briefly and broadly speaking, the left lost its ability to call for a “co-sensus”—which it once obtained, in the late nineteenth century and during the 1960s and the 1980s. As a result, “co-sensus” has been measured through a method that is simplified: online social media; and hence populism has become the double-edged sword of the digital age. The anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong, as well as social movements in Turkey, Ukraine, Indonesia, India, and Iran, are all revolutionary movements struggling against the fascist tendencies of today. And still, most right-wing regimes have ignored or even forcefully suppressed those movements. The outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has dramatically interrupted such predicament. Many rightist or totalitarian countries have fallen into a crisis, due to opaque dissemination of information and fake news operations.
As the epidemic spreads, the exclusion of the “Other” reemerged. The list of suspect issues includes both social gathering and well as nationalities. However, the crisis of survival has also allowed people to stay together, demand exact information and expose viewpoints. People have started to unite under new approaches, with different levels of “co-census.” This phenomenon reveals that future changes will likely take place in multiple worlds. Clustering and collected images that represent ideologies must be part of a multiple rather than a single movement. One question arises: how should we cluster? Or, what new reality will come out of the clustering? This seems to be the political challenge we must face today. The multitude as a cluster, in our decentralized era, has become a major motor of desire and anarchic imagination in social solidarity and mobilization.
Meanwhile, however, the “I” ideology of the business sector has also swept across the entire market. If coupled with the computational character of online social networking, collective endeavours are bound to be difficult in such offset. Clearly, the connection between democracy and clustering is far more critical than its connection with ideology. While previous forms of clustering could be summoned via ideology, nowadays they can be convened through affect, for instance through the mobilization of identity, and memes. Affect and memes contribute to the relational flux, and thus generate clustering and collectivity. In short, clustering is not the condensation and completion of identity, but the “co-sensus” event that takes place before identity becomes represented.
The Dynamic Unit of DemoStream: Be Water
Our method of documenting the history of democracy—which over-emphasizes identity—has been obsessed with visible forms to the extent that it obscures ecological issues generated by power and energy. This is because most of the existing resources, of thought and of communication, did not revealed their limits until the emergence of globalization. The force and energy of emotivity precipitate the flow of thoughts and communication and it is by undertaking the act of emotivity that the gathering occurs. It is this level of “co-sensus” that artistic practice wishes to create and capture. We cannot comprehend this “co-sensus” from the perspective of the distribution of the sensible (Rancière), because the distribution of the sensible ponders the operation of perception and the political effects presented by such operation in terms of structural relations. Difficulties in “co-sensus” or the deprivation of perception that we confront today operate not through structural relationships but through the stripping bare of micro-elements (affect), the artificial implanting of memes, as well as through more general elements massively adapted to specific languages and their interfaces. The so-called micro-elements here refer to latent desires, momentum, and cognitions that dwell in individuals. It is necessary to stimulate the benefits of sharing that derive from such micro-elements, to spark the emotivity that precipitates the flow.
If the late 1980s are characterized by the collapse of the Cold War and democratization, then, undoubtedly, the Kaohsiung Formosa incident in Taiwan in 1978 and the Gwangju Movement in Korea in 1980 are two of the decade’s most symbolic events. They epitomize this wave of democratization in East Asia. In today’s global political climate there have also been movements against authoritarian regimes, with their demands for liberation, urging governments to lift martial laws or end dictatorships. Even if today’s cluster of multi-layered “co-sensus” is very different from the one in historical movements mentioned above, and in spite of the very different political contexts, does the democratic clustering of the 1980s have anything in common with today’s anarchic movements? Now there is a deeper awareness of the fact that democratization requires an ability to adjust to differences and to accommodate them. The concept of “be water” operated in the anti-extradition protests as a token that connects the emotivity, flow and democratic dynamics, provides an example.
The idea to “be water” derives from Bruce Lee’s interpretation of martial arts (as shown in the eponymous documentary film, released in January 2020). It mainly points to the invisible and formless dynamic state that can be transformative of the external state. Transformation is not about creating differences, but about building up connections: martial arts require contact and connection in order to exert and transmit power, and this is specially true when one is in a face-to-face confrontation (or protest). Indeed, if “be[ing] water” represents the basic nature of martial arts, I would even go as far as to argue that it is also the substrate of democracy: individuals enter a politically-active public space and connect responsively with other individuals, in order to achieve certain effects and to wield a variable amount power, which will in turn build up into operational relationships that can respond to the external environment appropriately. “Be[ing] water” can help overcome dilemmas in many democratic societies, by expanding an effective network, conveying reinforced information, and boosting emotional conversations and the experience of sharing. In this sense, “be water” allows martial arts to act as a technology of the self that applies equally to individuals and clusters. I equate this technology of self with the practice of “co-sensus.” This way of being, a technique of the self, needs “co-sensus”; in this way, the latter moves towards “DemoStream.”
The Season of DemoStream
May was a significant month for China in the year of 1919, 1968 for France, 1980 for South Korea, and 1988 for Taiwan. The energy of change and youth has occupied the month of May throughout the twentieth century, since the climate of Spring is a suitable one to go out, meet new friends, express oneself, speak up. We are now facing the Mays of the twenty-first century. When we recall the Mays of the last century, we do dream of going out to make friends again and vibrate with the world in a more delicate tune. In line with that dreaming, we are collaborating with Sunjung Kim from the Gwangju Biennial Foundation in curating this exhibition. It focuses on rethinking the democratization movements of the 1980s. In relation to the specificities of Taiwan’s histories, the curation pays attention to the generation of that decisive power, the one that challenges the system and the hegemony, and forms a temporary collectiveness: DemoStream. Through DemoStream we aim to find the deep layers that form these energetic convergences and movements through artists’ thoughts and practices. We try to put forward an ecological view of democratization in the bio-political period. Democratic movements also represent an emergence of new ways of common life, new perceptual distribution, and a new world of common existence.
The Taipei iteration of the MaytoDay project opened on May 1, 2020 at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, with a preview of the exhibition that was to take place in Gwangju later that same year during the month of September. The project aimed to present streams of people’s “co-sensus” under the theme of DemoStream, such as: the stream of thinking (Chieh-jen Chen and Luke Ching); the stream of information (Shaoxiong Chen and Mr. Water+m#e^s); the stream of people (Wen-hsuan Chang and Ei Arakawa & Inza Lim); the stream of topology (Wang Hong-kai and Yooseung Jung); and the stream of pain (Mingyao Chang and Bing Wang).
Chieh-jen Chen applies a reverse proposition to see how politics today deal with people’s perceptions and focuses on their importance in order to preserve the energy for future life. A Field of Non-Field is thus a non-narrative story about the form of an alternative universe of knowledge—namely, the preservation of thoughts and feelings. Luke Ching presents his thoughts on methods that deal with the aftermath of police violence in Hong Kong. The photographic sketches via ink painting by Shaoxiong Chen, and the editing of images and videos shot during protests done by Mr. Water+m#e^s—a collective formed by Yu-pang Wong, Mei-yu Chang and Yung-hsiang Chiang—measure the “co-sensus” in the media of ideas of world (structure) and environment (situation). Wen-hsuan Chang and Ei Arakawa & Inza Lim create tension and relations between speculativeness and reflectivity, with the reformation of movements and political narratives through different roles, which enable figures to become “co-sensus” elements for reconstructing critical relations on a historical basis. Wang Hong-kai and Yooseung Jung illustrate and highlight the unaccepted forces in existing frameworks through the exploration of bio-geography in certain contexts, stimulating the creation of new sites by relocating the forces within their project and artworks. Bing Wang and Ming-yao Chang concern themselves with individual’s profound sense of existence and the pain that derives from it, as well as the relationship between individuals and their environment or particular incidents. Pain is an essential element of the democratic narrative, since the sacrifice and trauma caused by democratization movements will accumulate in the body as pain, and therefore, pain can be defined as “co-sensus” with a strong permeability.
黃建宏 Huang Chien-Hung
2020/05/01(FRI) - 2020/07/05(SUN)
關渡美術館 Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
王虹凱 Hong-Kai Wang
流水生 + m#e^s Mr. Water+m#e^s
陳劭雄 Chen Shaoxiong
陳界仁 Chen Chieh-Jen
程展緯 Luke Ching
鄭庾昇 Yooseung Jung
計畫參與 Project Participation:
王兵 Wang Bing
荒川醫 Ei Arakawa
林仁子 Inza Lim
張紋瑄 Chang Wen-Hsuan
張明曜 Chang Ming-Yao
關渡美術館 Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, TNUA
光州雙年展辦公室 Gwangju Biennale Foundation
宣言製作工作室 The One Production
國家人權博物館 National Human Rights Museum
光州信息文化產業振興院 Gwangju Information and Culture Industry Promotion Agency
國藝會 National Culture and Arts Foundation
東和鋼鐵 Tung Ho Steel Foundation