© 2016 by Harvard Visual China, affliated with Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts and Science

新媒介技术的诞生让知识本身更加可视化

October 25, 2016

 

作者:黄冰 (美国哈佛大学艺术与建筑史博士)

世界艺术史大会 第十八分会 媒介与视觉 青年主席

 

这个时代媒介技术的革新最好放在宏观艺术史的背景下去理解,而艺术史本身也是一部媒介史。在油画发明前,视觉的精确表达方式、传播方式或者说保留方式相对有限,当油画等架上绘画发明以后,油画某种程度上成了最便捷、有效、精美的视觉表达和遗存方式。今天的人要还原15世纪至照相术发明前的视觉生态,包括当时的服装,饮食,舞蹈等生活方式,最直观的便是通过画作,比如说油画、版画、教堂里的天顶画、石版画等当时传统的静态图像。在那个时代绘画近乎等同于图像。雕塑也是记录当时审美的最好方式之一,因为是三维立体,并且能在广场等大众能通行的地方展示,传播力极广,影响力悠久。古希腊人对于男性人体的审美仍然是我们今天全球通用的明星标准——六块腹肌、人鱼线、九头身,这一现象本身就是一部文明史和传播史……这些能够留存于世的精美的艺术表达方式,也就是我们今天常常说的媒介,渗透到我们当今生活的每一个层面。这是因为视觉是人类最为直观的感官,也是最重要的感官,是我们和这个世界联系的最主要的途径,这也是为什么说艺术史有着如此重要的学术地位。研究艺术史是研究人类最为主要的感知世界的方式。

 

比起绘画能留下作品、音乐能留下曲谱,过去的戏曲、歌剧等即兴舞台表演却因为没有录像这种功能,声乐家和演员无法将他的演出进行复制。也无法在现场表演以外进行传播,更不可能流传到今天,今天我们只能通过文字记载侧面想象当时的盛况。所以绘画等当时的视觉媒介具有很强的历史优势。

 

然而到了今天,传统美术媒介已被质疑不再是最有效、最动人、最震撼的表达方式了。近者,我们看到最近流行的虚拟现实(Virtual Reality),远者,我们看到了当初摄影技术对传统架上绘画的冲击。歌剧、戏曲、芭蕾也可以被录像、传播。电影比起传统艺术拥有更直观的表达和讲故事的能力。电影研究也始发于艺术史家,艺术史家只有吸收更多媒介的图像才能完成自己作为一个艺术史家的使命。绘画的重要性和唯一性已经被挑战了。不仅视觉与听觉等感官被结合,类似于虚拟现实、增强现实(Augmented Reality)之类的技术在体验感官方面已经远超传统艺术形式,而本来艺术作品最主要的目的之一就是为了表达、感动和传播。虚拟现实和增强现实解决了很多现实中的两难问题。那么用传统艺术手段的当代艺术家就受到了新媒介的挑战和冲击。 于是学者有理由质疑数字艺术家(Digital Artist)或者说媒体设计师(Media Designer)相较于传统媒介的艺术家,才是我们这个时代的当代艺术家。这是因为新媒体处理的是最当代的问题,同时也提出了这个时代最需要的变革。

 

现代人已经比较懒于读文字,更偏向于看图像,所以现在是一个图像时代。但是对于近几年的我们又有所变化,观众连看静图都不满足了,我们更爱看短片、更爱看视频,也就是说我们更偏爱动态影像。比起看一本书,花五分钟看完的Ted Talk能获取更大的信息量。比起翻前翻后还觉得艰深难懂的建筑史、或者敦煌石窟的书籍,看一部有效的纪录片所能理解的信息量更大。其实多媒体时代是要让信息更广泛的传播。本质上我们要相信每个人的人脑都有处理复杂信息的能力,以前比拼的是耐心——看谁能把表达很艰涩的书有耐心地啃下来,才能获得信息,进而消化处理信息。现在,如果信息能够很方便的传递给每个人,那么更多的人脑将得到更大程度的开发。媒介时代,其实是信息传播更直观的一种诉求。哈佛大学人脑科学家Margaret Livingstone说过:“其实图像本身是信息。在人脑中我们是一个信息的处理,人脑中并没有一张图像。”

 

Oliver Grau在他文章《On a Political Iconography of Information Societies》提到:“图像已经成为取代文字的主要交流形式:互联网革命中的巨头,有数十亿上传量的YouTube或Flickr以及有15亿用户的Facebook,是今天世界上最大的图像库。”现在最火的科学领域之一是大数据,其实我们这个时代也是视觉上的大数据时代。

 

正如我组主席汪悦进教授所言:媒介究竟主要属物质还是精神范畴,抑或是两者兼顾?新旧媒体的交叉同时也促使我们思考究竟是什么驱动视觉文化的变化:是技术还是认知主体?是物本位还是人本位,抑或是两者皆是?图像作为媒材艺术载体如何改变或塑造我们的世界观?我们如何梳理或调和艺术媒介这种既无所不在又难以坐实的矛盾?媒介的这种双重属性在全球化背景下是如何展开的?

 

综观媒介与视觉性这个问题,我以为:新媒介技术的诞生是让知识本身更加可视化。

 

 

Author: Bing Huang

Junior Chair of CIHA (Comité international d'histoire de l'art)

Session 18 Media and Visuality, Beijing, September 2016

 

 

Our current age of new media is better understood in the context of history of art, and art history itself, in a way, is a medium history. Before the invention of oil painting, visual representation, visual detailing, visual preservation, and visual transmission were limited but, after the invention of oil painting, it became in some way the most convenient, efficient, and delicate method for visual encapsulation and expression. If anyone in our modern age wishes to reactivate the fashion, food, interior design and dance from the 15th century until the invention of photography, the most effective and accurate way is through visual depictions, such as oil painting, prints, and church frescoes; that is to say, the traditional medium of the still image.  At that time, a painting was almost a synonym for an image.  Sculpture is also one of the best ways to document the visuality of the period. That is because sculpture is three-dimensional, and can be publically displayed in a square, that everyone can walk through. The influence and propagation is profound. If we consider the appreciation or aesthetic of the ideal male body today, such as a six-pack and V-cut abs, which were defined as beautiful by Leonardo da Vinci, we can trace the root of this through Greek and Roman sculptures. This phenomenon itself is a history of human civilization. Those exquisite ways of preserving our visual world that still extant today is what we now call art media, which infiltrate every aspect of our life. This is because the visual sense is the most straightforward and compelling human sense, and the major way we sense and connect with this world. That is why art history is important, as it studies the most phenomenal way of how we sense and connect with this world.

 

As for visual representations, paintings can be preserved for centuries; to our sense of hearing, music can leave notes; however, live performances such as opera and drama could not be preserved before recording was invented, and singers and actors could not reproduce their performance. Drama and opera cannot be replayed outside the stage, let alone passed on for us to see today. We can only imagine the grand scenario of a Shakespeare play or the great voice of Farinelli Castrato through the text. This is why traditional visual media such as paintings have a strong historical advantage. They can be preserved to reach us today.

 

But, today, traditional art media is no longer the most efficient, touching, and impressive form of expression. Most recently, we see the emerging popularity of Virtual Reality. To take it further, we see the challenge that photography posted to paintings and prints after it was invented. Opera, drama and ballet can now be recorded and enjoyed outside the stage. Film has a more direct, compelling and vivid way of telling a story than a historical painting. It seems more visionary if art historians involve themselves with more media as new technology comes along. Not only have our visual and auditory senses been collaboratively played and preserved, but the invention of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality has far surpassed the traditional art form in terms of audience experience, and the key purpose of art is to express, touch, move and spread. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have solved many of the dilemmas of real life. Therefore, artists who still use traditional art media have been challenged by the new media. It has even been questioned whether the Digital Artist and Media Designer are our contemporary artists or artists of our time, as opposed to the traditional media artists. This is because the new media deal with the most contemporary problems of our time and come up with what our time really needs.

 

Nowadays, people prefer reading images to reading text. It is now the era of the image. We see the flourishing of and obsession with instagram, snapchat and wechat moments. But, in recent years, people are even more inclined to look at moving images; that is to say videos and films, rather than still images. In five minutes, watching a ted talk will provide much more information than reading a book, especially if it is not in your field. Watching a documentary film on architecture or a Buddhist cave, such as Dunhuang Mogao, is much more efficient and telling than reading a book on architecture or Buddhist history. The spatial programming of a cave or a building can be better comprehended through a Virtual Reality glass or a dome film. Having to turn the pages of text or images back and forth in a book really challenges the reader’s patience, especially if one does not have to produce a paper afterwards. The age of multi-media is enabling information be more accessible to everyone. In nature, we believe that every human brain has the ability to process complex information. In the past, only those who had the patience to decode or digest a difficult book or equation could have the privilege of obtaining knowledge. But why should information and knowledge be so hard to access? Previously, this was due to the restricted technology.  Nowadays, if information can be easily accessed by all, more minds will be exploited. The age of new media is a time when information has become more visually approachable. A neuroscientist at Harvard, Margaret Livingstone, has said that the image itself is information. Behind our brain, there is no image; there is only information, or the processing of information.

 

The age of new media is actually a time when knowledge appeals for visualization.

 

 

 

 

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