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On Art Documentation

In this essay, when the phrase ‘’art documentation’’ shows up, it only refers to one precise model of art documentation—— the art documentation of a work of art, which couldn’t be otherwise shown in an exhibition or preserved for eternity (only ideally), if not in a form of documentation.

Part 1. 
Setting out from the authorship: 
the activity of showing an art documentation

What is documentation?
Documentation is the collection of information.

What is art documentation for the author?
An art documentation doesn’t show a work of art. It collects information of a work of art.
The informations of an art documentation doesn’t present the work of art, but the working program/process of an work of art.
Art documentations, inherently, carry/bear the works of art, as a medium.

What’s the need for art documentation? Why exactly are art documentations exhibited instead of the work of art itself?
Any work of art (or anything else) can be made eventually into documentation. But those works of art, which can only be exhibited in the form of documentation—— regardless of any other categories that these works of art might belong to—— have no other choices than being processed into art documentations. That is to say, in order to be in the present at the exhibition, they have to adapt themselves to a context of narrow/traditional exhibitions.
In the eyes of the narrow/traditional exhibitions, these works of art are congenitally exhibition-unfriendly. They are either spatially or time-wise incapable for its presence in an exhibition as such, so that they must be distilled/compressed/translated, and eventually exhibition-socialized and contextualized.
In a word, the capacity of the narration of these works of art, no matter of the qualities, has overstepped the range of an art exhibition-oriented display.

If so, why does this kind of work of art have to attend the traditional/narrow exhibition anyway?
First of all, a work of art doesn’t have to attend any social event, includes exhibitions. But if it does, so much so that not even by itself but in result of the form of art documentation, it longs for social events, like an exhibition. 
The fact that these works of art have gotten this way, is because they have chosen this way. 
The innate incapability of exhibition-displaying doesn’t necessarily lean to a negative origin, unless in a certain context of efficiency and validity. Nevertheless, in the very early stage of processing, as soon as a work of art is being generated, its choice of what it is is undoubtedly established. The choice of being exhibited in a transform/substitute as art documentation, is actually—— in the eyes of the work of art itself—— a compromised strategy toward the limitation and incompetence of an art exhibition.

The absence of a work of art itself serves the purpose of the presence of its significance.

Part 2.
Setting out from the viewership:
the activity of viewing an art documentation

What is art documentation for an audience/viewer?
There is always a dualist assumption behind the audience/ viewer’s attitude toward an art documentation. 
When a pile of papers, a digital profile, a webpage or a CD und soever, who claims its mission is to store an art documentation, comes into sight of an audience/viewer. The content would be immediately recognized as informations of works of art and associated in the audience/viewer's mind with a remote fantasy—a potential substance of the "actual body" of the work of art. 
This is an extraordinary phenomenon. Through the activity of viewing art documentations, the audiences/viewers unconsciously remind themselves that the work of art is somewhere out there, in the past or in the present.

The art documentation promises the audience/viewer a work of art.
How does an activity of viewing an art documentation take place in an exhibition?
When one considers him-or herself viewing an art documentation, he or she is in essence looking at the absence of the work of art.
The art documentation is an alibi, that initiated a narration/event of the absence of the work of art. The audiences/viewers are the eye-witnesses, who endorse the alibi.

Part 3.
the identity of an art documentation

How is art documentation being related with the work of art?
Art documentation is the one who confronts with the audiences/viewers in represent of the work of art. 
Art documentation is the final stage of an work of art as processed invention. An art documentation only preserves the ending/termination of the working process of a work of art, as any other forms of art, as well as the contemporary time-based art, such as performance, happening or processing art etc.. In every form of art there’s a process of selecting, what remains is what is taken as the work of art. 
The endings matter.

What is art documentation in itself?
A much more significant moment than to know how to begin with a work of art, for an artist, is the moment one decide to stop to create. Where it stops, where the work of art is marked.
A complete painting is the end of the event of painting. 
An art documentation is the end of the event of art documentation making.
An art documentation is a work of art.

Part 4.
A relevant matter: the Imitative Art Documentation

What is an Imitative Art Documentation?
It is an invented art documentation that imitating the success of art documentations based on lies and imaginations.
An Imitative Art Documentation also collects information of the work of art. A work of art that has never been existing.
The informations of an Imitative Art Documentation also presents the working program/process of an work of art —— a working program/process that didn’t carry out.

关于艺术文献

从作者出发——展览行为:

文献的本质:
1,文献作为一种特殊的作品承载媒介,它显现的只是信息,而不是作品。
2,它所展现的是工作方案。

仅能以艺术文献的形式出现在展览中的作品,一定是由于空间或时间方面的先天不足(在狭义的展览的眼中),只能化身为艺术文献的形式,来适应狭义的展览的语境。因此可以将艺术文献看作是作品某种压缩的形态,无论在空间上还是时间上,它是减法的,简略的,抑制的。

这种展览意义上的先天不足并不是消极的,它是选择的结果。艺术文献之所以呈现艺术文献的面貌,而不是直接作品本身的在场,是因为作品选择了这个形式。在作品被创作的时候,这样的选择就无疑被确立了。反过来,艺术家之所以被选择这样的形式,是因为展览在场的局限性和先天不足。所以艺术家为了达到相应的诉求,作品必须缺席。作品的缺席,是为了意义的在场。

从观众出发——观看行为:

艺术文献始终是二元论的。它时刻提醒观众,这不是作品本身,它只是一个某种意义上更大容量的作品的展览性替身,只因原作出于不可抗的物理原因,无法在展览上现身。
当人们凝视文献时,会自然而然地把它将一个虚无的想象联系在一起。也就是说,当一摞纸或一个电子文档以作品文献的身份来到你眼前时,你会自然而然地联想到另一个主体。这一点非常了不起,通过观看艺术文献,观众可以做到自觉提醒自己,这不是作品本身,而是关于作品的信息,这些信息许诺一个作品。

一个认为自己在观看作品文献的观众,实质上是在观看作品的缺席——一个不在场的叙事。艺术文献为这个作品的不在场证明,观众为它不在场的目击证人。
在展览中被观看艺术文献,是艺术家所能提供的一切。在此种情况下,艺术文献是观众能获得的一切现场经验。

从艺术文献出发:艺术文献的身份

艺术文献开具了某个艺术作品的不在场证明的时候,这个艺术作品的身份——这个虚无的想象——被激活。例如我对你说, 我的沙皮狗Bob今天不在这里。通过否认Bob的存在,Bob被重新确立。

艺术文献的身份和作用早已超出了最初被赋予的范围,也早该使我们更加警惕。如果艺术文献是艺术作品最终的产出、结果、事实,那么艺术文献的身份不仅仅是我们通常认为的作品替身那么简单。艺术文献不是任何作品的替身,艺术文献是作品本身。
文献是一种媒体,它只保留作品的最终面貌。就像其他的艺术形式一样——油画以画布为媒体,摄影以胶片/数字为媒体,雕塑以各式材料和空间为媒体,行为表演以身体和空间为媒体等等——它们只保留作品最终的面貌。也许作为艺术家,如何开始一件艺术作品也至关重要,但显然对于任何的艺术创作,都存在一个更加意义重大的时刻,那就是停止创作的那一刻。

虚假文献:

“虚假文献”的核心素质:
1,虚假文献同样提供信息,虽然它提供的信息在历史中并没有真正发生,但这些信息在文献中的位置是真实的。因此在文献这个媒体中,虚假艺术文献也已经达到了一个真艺术文献的容量。“虚假文献”是无法被证伪的。
2,艺术文献展示的是工作方案。方案并不需要一定被实施,假文献展现的是没有被实施的工作方案。

在这个基础上,如果除艺术文献外的所有艺术形式有什么共性,那就是它们起码保持了媒体的同一性。艺术家总是直接施力于那个最终被展示的媒体,虽然这个媒体总是只承载结果——任何时候艺术家停止工作,作品状态都刷新至停下的那一刻。

我们在一块画布上画画,并最终展示画作;在一块石头上凿刻,并最终展示雕塑;在一个设备上按下快门,得到相应的图像;学会用身体做各种动作,用身体进行表演。创作作品开始时的媒体,也是展示时的媒体。如果艺术家在完成的画作上修修补补;用Photoshop编辑拍下的图像;行为表演上进行即兴表演;那不过是改写/更新了作品的结局。

而艺术文献的情况则极为不同,在它描述下的作品可以有千百种媒体,但它的结局只以一种形式在场——文献。我在这件作品中所做的,便是通过直接操控艺术文献生产过程中最后一环节(直接与观众对质的媒体)以生产内容。或者说,我是一个把艺术文献当作故事讲的人。