opening act

As it exists in this transitional space between fact and fiction, this text represents both the presence—in its presentation of archival materials—and absence—in its lack of historical context—of curatorial discourse.





VES is dark and cold these days, and people – if there are any – are carping at each other. Imagine a department of teeth, the VES snout, and you may think that this place really could use a containership. It happens that only because of missing teeth, people are carping on each other. And an endless search for the confines of the meaning of a word is in fact what many  d i a l o g u e s  end up to be about.

The  Vessel is not a website but a book, complete fiction, a catalog book in 3 parts and this 3rd part is for VES. The  Vessel is twisted term with a spelling mistake. Like VES, the  Vessel is constantly moving towards the Carpenter Center while it also is the very Carpenter Center, at least in its own website (modeled after that of the CCVA), that is also constantly moving towards its own idea of a Carpenter Center.

Blinds are permeable, dancing confines between the words –Latin words, summa, magna, cum, and plus/minus – in this disfunctional language machine inside Harvard College, in the inside of the tooth itself and by dancing with the words down here, V-E-S lost its re: and al and reality became a cheap tooth supplement, which there is actually nothing to argue about anyways.

In VES, The  Vessel is just a website about a containership, and both are constantly moving towards their ends.


John Gould Cage

Oct. 1 - Oct. 14 




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What is a Diagram

Where what is said matters more for its continuous rearticulation of a medium as the channel of power. So reinvention and disruption become the new, updated components of a constant stream. A medium is the thing that you are able to become blind to. It can be a vehicle for character to the point where only character appears. This is a dynamic of disappearing. To find the medium look to those who exist most purely as character. Especially unassimilated character with (therefore) maximal potency or magic.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the mirrored lake, a drowned hillbilly chimes in, reminding us that intoxication is also part of the equation: we can almost see his mind. The bird comes and goes, each time more fucked up, drugged or drunk, flying while falling and thinking strangely. S keeps on, and the next time he meets the bird it’s dead on the ground with x’d out eyes. The bird has a final idea. S supplies a punch line and keeps on.


“Parrottree—Building for Bigger than Real”

... being about “superstructure,” the set of dominant principles, beliefs, or ideas that arise from more fundamental realities. As she said at a talk during the show’s opening reception, “Parrottree” is “struggling with being under pressure of any kind of superstructure. I am trying to deal with it, trying to hack the system.” 

This piece seems only tangentially connected to the larger theme of the show in that it details a camera capable of providing a “birds-eye view,” and relates to the show’s recurring avian imagery. Beyond this tenuous connection, however, the piece is neither conceptually relevant nor visually stimulating. The rest of the exhibit is similarly opaque. To a casual viewer, the sparse arrangement of industrial materials and slabs of wood would surely be incomprehensible. The exhibition, by presenting an unconventional collection of objects and labeling them as art, attempts to break free from the prevailing art-world superstructure, which sets the standard for what art is supposed to be. 


Some Early Chinese Bird-and-Flower Paintings in Chinese Collections

I will not attempt to add to these studies; I want instead to consider some extant paintings that may provide visual evidence for the stylistic options that were open to artists of the early periods, and for the development of bird-and-flower painting through its greatest age, from the eighth to the thirteenth century. I want, that is, to try to understand some of the observations about style made by Sung critics in the light of extant paintings. There is nothing new about this; it is just what others have done. But the appearance in recent years, especially in the People's Republic of China, of a number of early paintings depicting bird- and flower subjects has significantly increased the body of material and justifies another attempt.


题 西 林 壁

苏 轼




As a visual artist, Lucienne attempts to push this deadening effect of visualization to its furthest extreme. 

Through two parallel practices – o n e  sculptural,  o n e  editorial – he enacts a type of crash-test empiricism.

Human fears are answered by the administrators of post-humanity.

 Vessels are sliced by their contents.

Like the famous Youtube video of a super-charged washing machine spinning itself into destruction, Lucienne constructs experimental systems in which ideas delete their own material.

The result is not knowledge, but rather its objective by-product, images from a transitional phase in humanity. 

For while, recent certifications allow us to fly farther and farther from the nearest airport, it has become increasingly unclear where we planned to land. 


3 Body Problem

Oct. 1 - Oct. 18


The effect of the copy [negative] though of course unlike the original (substituting as it does lights for shadows and vice versa) yet is often singularly pleasing and would I think often suggest to artists useful ideas respecting light and shade. 


Searching for source materials, Essa traveled extensively and gathered works from China, Egypt, Morocco, Java, Tangiers, the Congo, Europe, and elsewhere. He had eclectic tastes and could find beauty and inspiration just as easily in a silver chocolate pot as a disproportionate statuette... His abstraction of the figure and borrowing from other cultures may have baffled viewers at the onset...


In many cases, even slight deviations in the way we set up a three-body scattering experiment will lead to a complete different outcome. The extreme sensitivity to initial conditions resembles the occurrence of mathematical chaos.



This is a simple deterministic system of 3 bodies attracted to one another by gravity - yet it moves in highly complex and unpredictable ways. Poincaré's study of this famous 'three-body problem' was the beginning of chaos theory. 


I created a sphere in this infinite space for myself: not too big, though possessing mass. My mental state didn’t improve, however. The sphere floated in the middle of “emptiness”—in infinite space, anywhere could be the middle. The universe had nothing that could act on it, and it could act on nothing. It hung there, never moving, never changing, like a perfect interpretation for death.

I created a second sphere whose mass was equal to the first one’s. Both had perfectly reflective surfaces. They reflected each other’s images, displaying the only existence in the universe other than itself. But the situation didn’t improve much. If the spheres had no initial movement—that is, if I didn’t push them at first—they would be quickly pulled together by their own gravitational attraction. Then the two spheres would stay together and hang there without moving, a symbol for death. If they did have initial movement and didn’t collide, then they would revolve around each other under the influence of gravity. No matter what the initial conditions, the revolutions would eventually stabilize and become unchanging: the dance of death.

I then introduced a third sphere, and to my astonishment, the situation changed completely. Like I said, any geometric figure turns into numbers in the depths of my mind. The sphereless, one-sphere, and two-sphere universes all showed up as a single equation or a few equations, like a few lonesome leaves in late fall. But this third sphere gave “emptiness” life. The three spheres, given initial movements, went through complex, seemingly never-repeating movements. The descriptive equations rained down in a thunderstorm without end.



I’ve always been deeply interested in stories about the struggle between humanity and powerful cosmic forces. The Three-Body trilogy is about a war between humans and aliens, but I want to tell a story of humans fighting against forces far more powerful than alien civilizations. There are many choices within this framework, and I haven’t decided exactly which way to go yet.


(There’s inherent cultural imbalance whenever you're translating from Chinese to English.

Educated Chinese readers are expected not only to know about all the Chinese references—history, language, culture, all this stuff—but to be well-versed in Western references as well.

A Chinese reader can decode an American work with far greater facility than an American reader can decode a Chinese work, on average.)


Zuckerberg, who taught himself Mandarin, has been a student of Chinese culture over the past few years as he's tried to persuade the Chinese government to grant its 1.4 billion citizens access to his social network.

On his personal Facebook page, he said "The Three-Body Problem" will be "a fun break from all the economics and social science books I've read recently."


When I'm talking about my images it sometimes worries me that I give the impression that they're just a kind of documentation of a thesis. They're not. They're experiences: real experiences, even if they are representational. The structure is obviously important, and  o n e  describes it because it's more easily describable than other aspects; but the shape, with all the other elements, adds up to something which can't be said verbally and that's why the  vessel is, why it exists

There are a lot of quite complex things going on, some of which develop from setting the idea in motion. The idea is  o n e  thing, the result another... The Opening Act has a time of its own which overrides the time of the things photographed. The people photographed seem victimized by it, but the image wins out and so does the real live spectator.  Vessel grew from this.


This interaction, a kind of consummation of text and reader, conjures themes that have now become central to Lucienne's work— pleasure, desire, and the body (the body of the writer, the body of the reader, and even the body of writing itself).

These various bodies are also broached in his book on photography, as are a number of his earlier concerns. As we have seen with his use of denotation and connotation, Lucienne often liked to structure his arguments around two opposing terms of his own invention.

He also rehearses the play of image and text that one finds in the later book by opening with a series of personal photographs accompanied by erudite, meditative captions.

The particular tone of these captions—at once philosophical and autobiographic, poetic and analytical, questioning and assured—makes them a kind of foreword to his last major photographic project at Harvard College.