Earth Heat Flow: the Visitor Who Returns to Solar Time
31 DEC 2022 - 12 MAR 2023
龙星如 Iris LONG
当那座计算机渲染的冰山同格林兰峡湾一般寂静坍塌（《熔于时间》），抑或计算机里的烟花无声散放（《烟花宇宙》），我们似乎感知到大地天然蕴藏着熵增的势能和逆熵的渴望，以及二者之间的张力，正如《濒危植物标本库》试图存储植物的生命，这种存储的有效性却依赖太阳的节律。在自然光源退散后，人造光源亮起前（《关于 891 次黄昏心灵活动的百科全书》）的混沌地带，在所有机器生成的文字随着热敏纸暴露在空气而成为模糊团块的瞬间（《一声叹息》），人们重新站在大地的热流之中，透过它去理解太阳辐射与岩石圈热结构之间的垂直空间里，极地冻土与赤道艳阳之间的地理疆域内，我们的技术和生态系统中所承载的万象，及其所见证的年岁。
The exhibition titled “Earth Heat Flow,” based on the unique winter heating in Beijing, attempts to discuss how to understand the technological culture and ecological status quo through the lens of thermal media and invites visitors to take a journey on “melting” from the perspective of dynamic “heat flow.” During the journey, imaginary creatures with heat-synesthesia will experience the daily temperature that human beings are accustomed to, track how heat exists as a foreshadowing of the contemporary scientific and technological system, and speculate on notions of entropy and time - both closely related to “heat.” Each work is included into the “melting” narrative, which may change the object’s shape or reveal hidden things. Melting may be violent or silent, like technology, which is both a dynamic plastic force and a revealing force.
The privileged sunshine in winter of Beijing will be splashed on the “hotter” side of the exhibition hall. The works here discuss how our digital infrastructure (data centers, network switches, and optical fibers) constantly absorb the planet’s energy and build a stable thermal environment. Being Radiotropic describes our dependence on electromagnetic signals with life entities’ reaction to solar radiation. The Copper Tree reminds us how the copper element that supports optical cables and wires is generated from the earth’s veins. Porosity Valley imagines how a living element travels as half a mineral entity and half a digital bit. While Analog Sun Tracking replaces the heated sun in the human visual spectrum with black holes; Saros implies the fatal relationship between the solar flare explosion and the electronic system with a ridiculous fable.
Captured Nature reminds us how the man-made “cold/hot” system continuously supports a more moderate and pleasant living environment. However, these control technologies are also involved in the planet’s natural cold and heat flow for water and wind. Even ocean currents are cooling the roaring machine room, and the neon on which the lithography machine depends also relies on the low-temperature distillation of air by the separation equipment (Do not dwell on that hazy glow). This inlaid relationship of energy, suggesting the fragile and dark side of the man-made technological environment, leads us to the deeper and colder side of the exhibition hall, where the stable environment we created by regulating temperature and heat energy is disturbed and reversed. Life from remote underground servers penetrates people’s skin via liquid (Aquaphobia). Three groups of works related to glaciers depict the history of energy exploitation, cold war facilities, and ancient microorganisms solidified by ice.
When that computer-rendered iceberg collapsed in silence like Greenland Fjord (Melting into Time), or the fireworks in the computer quietly bloomed (Fireworks Universe), we seem to feel that the earth naturally contains the potential energy of entropy increases and the desire for reversing entropy,as well as the tension between the two. As Endangered Herbarium tries to store plants’ life, this storage’s effectiveness goes with the sun’s rhythm. In the chaotic zone before the artificial light sources light up (891 Dusks: An Encyclopedia of Psychological Experiences) and after the natural light sources dissipate, when all the machine-generated words become fuzzy lumps with the thermal paper exposed to the air (A Sigh), people stand in the heat flow of the earth again to understand everything carried by our technology and ecosystem and the epoch witnessed by the vertical space between the solar radiation and the thermal structure of the lithosphere, or, the geographical territory between the polar frozen soil and the equatorial sunshine.
Please follow me, visitors from the gentle world, you are bathing in the sun in the warm winter of Beijing.
The so-called “cosmic microwave background radiation” is the thin air with hazy glow here. Yes, we are “thermal” animals, just like the fact that you are visual animals. For us, “heat” cannot be naturally divided. It always disperses, germinates, entangles itself, and travels at will, and you seem to have the ability to decompose, transport, cut off, transmit and even purify it.
Freon keeps your skin dense and even in summer. You create pure heat blocks with clear geometric edges and name them “microwave oven” and “skating rink.” The heat crawls along the electric tower, optical fiber, and power grid section by section, outlining the ambiguous universe in our eyes, rising one after another. You have even constructed a profound tone that we rarely see. It is on a square called a quantum computer in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (to quote your description of “heat”). It operates below 15 degrees Kelvin, “colder” than outer space. As for the high-energy sustained pulse in Joint European Torus near Oxford, UK, in our eyes, it can almost rival the roar of the sun.
There are many pieces of material evidence about your gentle world that we have collected: red glowing tubes, orange light films, instruments for tracking the sun’s path, and devices for detecting electromagnetic landscapes. Visitors from the gentle world, you do not always agree with each other: some of you are obsessed with domiciling heat, while others are interested in the hidden, escaping, and discrete heat and are even able to smell the red backbite bred by the chaotic mother earth. Even if it is not as extreme as the UV disaster imagined by Ellen Feist, it does make the glacier retreat and the sea rise.
Please make a turn here, visitors from the gentle world. Although you are outstanding heat managers, unlike us, who cannot isolate the “heat” feeling for the existence of heat synesthesia, at least at some moments, we can understand each other’s feelings. In 1859, the solar storm nearly destroyed the telegraph system that was taking shape back then. Many of you, like us, witnessed the strange flash in the polar sky. You, smart people, have realized that the answer to “heat” is sometimes buried in ice. Scientists among you are chasing the history of these solar storms from the nitrogen oxides deposited in the thin layer of ice core rich in nitrate. Data and genes of everything are right there in Svalbard Archipelago in the polar circle, with more probes stretching to coal and oil under the ice cover. You will tactfully describe the answer as the politics of energy, climate, and technology. The cycle of heat and cold entangles solar radiation, polar permafrost, and lithosphere. Narrow roads sometimes emerge in the area where the glaciers are fading. You are driving to the past when you drive here and track the irretrievable edge of the ice.
Presumably, you also find that this is a place where some entropy chaos were accidentally sealed. In a sense, we are you in the past or the remote future. To us, the appearance of iron does not mean the death of stars. Entropy is no longer a secret. Neither is the end of life a sigh. We never read the fluctuation of mercury in the scale or managed to tame the heat in a room of several square feet. We never built a heating network covering the city or a machine eye to detect the temperature of everything, but we grasped the existence of “heat” on a larger scale. “Heat” is in our eyes and bodies, surging at its will like hurricanes and eddies connecting the core of the earth and the sun or continuous fog under the ice field. In fact, the combination of hot sun and dark and cold sky leads to the existence of low entropy. The world is never really gentle.
Now, I'm going back to the solar time. I hope you will enjoy your stay here, visitors from the gentle world.