respaper - From The Sky To The Ground The Transformation Of...

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From The Sky To The Ground The Transformation Of Xu Bing’s Language D.P.D Art 413: Arts in Modern and Contemporary China Professor Meiqin Wang November 28, 2007
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Du Let’s say someone is learning a new language. He or she must learn to speak and listen to the new phonetic sounds, read and write in the new formations of familiar letters or even completely foreign “characters.” Some of the sounds or words maybe similar to one’s mother’s language but bear a totally new meaning. Not only the words, the grammar, the situation to one’s use of the expression may also be so different that if one is unconsciously using it wrong, he or she can get into serious consequences. Therefore to learn of a new language, one must also be aware of the customs and tradition, to the culture of which houses the language. Culture molds language, and continues to affect the ever transforming of the form. Xu Bing’s projects mostly deal with language and culture, but looking from his monumental piece Book from the Sky to the new ongoing project Book from the Ground , we see a major change in the form, content, and medium. The audiences are gradually allowed to interact with his art, and while they look at the art and reflecting on themselves and the world they are in, they consequently become part of it. Book from the Sky to English Square Words His famous work, the Book from 1988, was only giant sets of unintelligible characters, but brought completely different reactions from Eastern and Western audiences. The Eastern, more correctly, the Chinese whose language is the root of style of these new meaningless words, reacted with shock, confusion, and wonder. They tried to read the apparently Chinese text they thought they know and understand, but failed to do so. They became doubtful of their own literacy. When they read on they would find out that all the text were incomprehensible. They would wonder why someone created so many meaningless words. Those who know Chinese would be occupied with the context of the piece, rather than enjoying the idea and the form like Western audience. One work 2
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Du of art, when displayed in different places, exposing to different audiences, received different reactions. “Chinese audiences lose part of the meaning, and Western audiences lose another part, but each side gets the part that the other doesn’t,” 1 Xu Bing himself expressed. By receiving different reactions from different audiences, the piece of art appears more meaningful. Ron Eyerman implied that art is “a form of meaningful communication, and that “art encourages response. Artistic expressions can be characterized by the intention to engage the observer, to form a relation and create a connection.” 2 Audiences’ reaction is part of the art’s meaning. In 1994 Xu Bing had an installation called
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respaper - From The Sky To The Ground The Transformation Of...

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