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by Space Station
Location: Space Station
Artist(s): SHANG Chengxiang
Date: 20 Sep - 25 Oct 2015

Within Shang Chengxiang’s studio, there is a modified automated vacuum equipped with a brain on top, moving freely throughout the room.

The automated vacuum is like a simple body, both an automatic reflection, and  a mechanical being, involving the conscious mind. Its continuous observation of “me” involves conscious movement in order to truly complete a significant action. The artist finds this simplified machine fascinating.If other sensory systems are removed, how does the brain continue to function? Where is my inner-self? Where is the true me? Is there a conscious mind after the action has been completed? Otherwise, there is nothing performing this action.

For brain researchers, the brain is like the kidney or liver, it’s another kind of organ, belonging under the category of physics or biology. Its mental and psychological levels have been distinguished, creating a decline in research on consciousness, whether by scientists, psychologists, or researchers who study artificial intelligence. When we input signals from various sensory systems, ultimately, what gives these instructions and where is this output coming from? From very early on, Shang Chengxiang has been conscious of these questions, having always been keenly interested in research on the brain.

Based on the principles of the Cartesian theater, “the real me” watches external things reproduced within the mind, just as I watched my brain vacuum from an external point of view. The “Self” is an observer of “me.” The “Self” thinks in ways other than simply the existence of the body. A “brain within a vat,” the automatic movements of the machine configure both input and output signals.

After the senses have been removed, reality and existential re-understanding of the mind can open many more possibilities of space in peoples’ thinking.

A performance where the self looks at me, Descartes’ 17th century interactive dualism of the mind has become the basis for discussion on consciousness. The now, neutrinos, anti-matter and black holes have already become channeled through scientific ontological standards. Some people think that the expansion of ontological physics will explain the consciousness phenomenon. The function of consciousness is still beyond human cognition. Shang Chengxiang explores the various levels of consciousness, and fundamental facts regarding consciousness that have leaked out though his observations, while at the same time, they have not fallen into the sphere of mysticism. He has used experiences from the outside world, calling for the establishment of inner-world possibilities through the communication of emotions and feelings. His work serves as a playground for the phenomenon of consciousness, where different combinations of the mind’s images freely flow together. 

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