In perilous times when war breaks loose, plagues run rampant, markets are melting down and ecospheres have anguished, a line of flight furnishes a swath of necessary resilience in the plight of despair. But the line of flight is much more than a path of retreat or a roundabout or even a formation of defense, it is as much a front of engagement and advance, an initiative that inspires nomadic incursion, an opportunity to disrupt and realign, and to agitate zones of emergence.
Pandemics and scourge, capital’s greed and ecological calamities, loves and hostilities, wisdoms of artificial intelligence and human follies are but assemblages, according to French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Seen as machinic becoming that are consisted of parts and fragments, aggregates and relationships, with which they exchange with other assemblages to sustain operations and obtain functions. They work in thermodynamic principles and are susceptible to psychic innuendos. As such they are as porous and impenetrable, stiffened yet supple, and thus open clearings for potentials and changes and formulation of worlds of other sorts.
Moral contemplation on the outlook of the world leaves the metaphysical question in a quagmire of contention. Leibniz extolled our world as the ideation of God’s most benevolent endowment to humankind while Schopenhauer dishearteningly concluded our world was almost the worst of all possible worlds. Eschewing such dichotomy of ethical conundrum, possible worlds are manifold, multiplicities of visions and aspirations, which artists are experts to forge and march on with. They may be places impractically wonderful or dwellings of the uncanny. These worlds provide solace and sanctuary, but at the same time are vulnerable to disruptions and provocations, perceptible to sensations and premonitions, and evocative of yet more possibilities.
The exhibition In the Line of Flight, for Possible Worlds, gathers a plethora of worlds. These are worlds between visceral entrapment (ZHANG Peili) and an unreal journey (Jakob Kudsk Steensen); mystic parables of the ancient (ZHOU Xiaohu) juxtaposed with quotidian stories of urbanity (Alex Da Corte and Jayson Musson); Avatar, obsessed with the sunset, may envy the intimacy that only lovers can share in the real world (LIN Ke); and fantastic game-land (LU Yang) vying with whimsical metamorphosis of humans and flies (Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau); the mudland of geology bricolaged in culture and nature (Pierre Huyghe) permeates into an underwater dreamland of technology, power, corruption, art, and warfare all propelled by artificial intelligence (Hito Steyerl); a toast from the ether-land caresses Covid-stricken fatigue (Dorian Gaudin and Zachary White); finally, a literal flight out of the fossil world (Tomás Saraceno) ushers us into the cosmic grandeur of the time immemorial (Arthur Ganson).
In lines of flight, these assemblages and constellations make new worlds possible and hopeful.
—— Zhang Ga
ZHANG Ga is a media art curator. He is Distinguished Professor and Vice Dean of the Institute of Sci-Tech Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts, China. He has curated numerous exhibitions including Beijing International New Media Art Exhibition and Symposium (2004- 2006) and three editions of the Media Art Triennial (National Art Museum of China, 2008-2014). His recent curatorial projects include Topologies of the Real : Techne Shenzhen 2022 (Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning, 2022), We=link series of online programs (2020-2021), The 6th Guangzhou Triennial (co-curator, Guangzhou, 2018), Machines Are Not Alone (Zagreb Contemporary Art Museum, 2018), unREAL: The Algorithmic Present (co-curator, HeK Basel, 2017), Datumsoria: The Return of the Real (ZKM, 2017) and Wrap around the Time (co-curator, Nam June Paik Art Center, 2016). ZHANG Ga has lectured on media art and culture around the world and published essays and edited books with the MIT Press, October, Flash Art International, Liverpool University Press, among others. Since 2015, he directs Chronus Art Center in Shanghai and currently is also co-curator of ZKM | Hong Media Art collection.
CAFA Institute of Sci-Tech Arts aims to integrate Arts, humanities and science and technology into collaborative research and development, and become a new interdisciplinary and cross-sector teaching and research and innovation base integrating teaching, research and creation. To develop advanced culture development to appeal to the creation of digital media art as an opportunity, through domestic and international artists, cultural scholars, scientists and technical workers collaborative research model to promote new ideas and new ways of thinking, so as to promote the central academy of fine arts in the art of imagination and technology research in catalytic new creativity.