2388: Connecting Vocabularies
an art project about Beijing, China in the time just before the
First shown at the New York Academy of Sciences in 1992, "2388: Connecting Vocabularies" was presented by New Tang Dynasty Television, NTDTV, in Focus Talk, a 30 min program, 2006.
The museum scale art project consists of fourteen paintings - Seven Arts and Seven Virtues - each measuring 106" by 20", twelve poetry panels, each 22"x20", an Artist's Book - Stefan Umærus' diary and poetry from Beijing, 1989 - 14"x 8", and a video-loop.
Connecting Vocabularies" recreates the seventeenth century French
court painting series
Through a small insignificant door in a high garden wall, a path leads to the castle Fontainebleau, behind the wall a forest expands, divided by straight pathways. It is called "Le Labyrinthe".
The construction of Fontainebleau began in the sixteenth century.
To open the door in the wall; the presence of the forest and the castle.
Is the visitor who opens the door to the labyrinth of nature, on his way from the empire of signs, a door towards cosmos, or a duplicate, bound for the empire of signs.
Is space a duplicate of consciousness, or is consciousness a duplicate of space.
Progressing in time, like Chinese boxes, from times archaic to times electronic, epochs lie, illuminated by pictures, set in forms, wound around by mind structures, given direction by geography, commissioners and power structures.
It is sufficient to regard a demographic curve, or the power of electronics, to create simultaneousness between places, thoughts, and poetry in the XXth century. Never has memory been manifest in the minds of such numbers, or exchanges so rapid. An electronic Alexandrian situation, set in patterns of the gamin.
From rue Republique, the door to the labyrinth opens. Dogs run fast in the forest, trees multiplicate in the area of sight.
Is a work
of art a replica of rue Republique, or does it exist on the border between
Enigma of rue Republique.
in the Labyrinth. The man by the side of the water is disturbing; is he
a peaceful angler, or a secretly escaped felon, a murderer from the Pere
If a painting, dated as early modernism is a disruption of central perspective, genre - and illusionist painting, leaving it to the spectator to recreate reality: exchange the objects of cubism, the china and the daily papers with LE MONDE, LA FORET, LE LABYRINTHE, LE CHATEAU.
The chase through the labyrinth ends in the castle, The empire followed the revolution. Napoleon abdicated here 1814.
The trees of the labyrinth and the relics of Fontainebleau speak from different places in time and space: If "Galerie de cerfs" exists in the castle; deer in the labyrinth. If Le Monde will continue to rotate like a shimmering gem in space the 400 years to follow, new forms will occur, new pictures be illuminated. In parallel the paradigms of economy and politics will change.
A work of art created for a spectator in the year 2388 must anticipate that language and thought is removed from present patterns of association with a distance similar to those 1988 compared to 1688. Displayed will be an execution, the meaning obscure, like reading the Cyrillic alphabet without equivalent knowledge of the language. Will distortions rule, leaving none or few forms of beauty, or will works of art be arrows aimed at the future, in the rift of the present?
Stefan Umærus, La Magnificence, 1991, oil, acrylic, gouache, copperleaf
on canvas, 107 x 20 inches