“Is double standard the emblem of our social reality?” — Niki Siu’s annotations on her week-long POP-UP “Laugh At Last: Gingerbread Man’s Destiny.” The show is open 8-14 May 2021 at Floating Projects, the harvest of a half-year long thesis-art production.「雙重標準是社會現實的代表?」蕭麗琦為她的畢業論文作品作註腳,從民間流傳的故事薑餅人說起。

《最後一笑:薑餅人的宿命》蕭麗琦突圍展覽。據點2022年5月8-14日下午2-8(星期一除外)。Week-long POP-UP “Laugh At Last: Gingerbread Man’s Destiny”; 2-8pm (except Monday), 8-14 May 2022.

Event post: http://floatingprojectscollective.net/events/niki-siu-pop-up-laugh-at-last/

 

「雙重標準是社會現實的代表?」“Is double standard the emblem of our social reality?”

 

Gingerbread Man, the beginning of a research journey
薑餅人。我的研究旅程是這樣開始的。

 

My curiosity for science and vaccine development leads me to dig into the implied social disputes, thus my contemplation of the controversy of using animals in laboratory experiment and its history. This results in my graduation thesis, after half year’s research and one and a half months of artistic production. It satirises the madness of scientists’ experiments by which the animal subjects’ feelings are totally ignored as scientific achievement is all that matters. The setup of my work integrates collage and sculptural art to invite audiences to reconsider the assumptions we humans take for granted, and to raise awareness of respect for animals.

With The Gingerbread Man as my point of departure, I ask, “Is egalitarianism between humans and animals not possible?” [Editor’s note: the gingerbread man, also known as “The Gingerbread Boy,” first appeared in print in the May 1875 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine]

The project consists of a montage video, titled Laugh At Last, about the battle between humans and animals. It connects with a mini installation, Gingerbread Man’s Destiny, a sculptural annotation to the video. In preparing the two components, I collected abundant aesthetic elements from the internet, which I treated which a collage principle. Animatic elements are meant to inject life and motion into the found objects and images. A dark soundscape, comprising ambiences and fabricated sounds, simulates the actual world whereas transitional silence magnifies tension, inciting imaginative beholding of hidden powers. The overall installation deploys sculptural skills to instil an illusionary touch to the whole work.

我對科學的好奇和對疫苗報導的反應,促使我深入探討一下所涉及的隱含的社會爭論,從而思考動物實驗的爭議性及其歷史源由。經過半年的研究和一個半月的藝術創作,我終於完成畢業論文的撰寫和作品的創作。它諷刺了科學家們為自己的科學成就而努力,在過程中忽略了受試者的感受。我的作品融合了拼貼和雕塑藝術,以邀請觀眾重新考慮我們人類認為理所當然的想法,並提高對動物的尊重意識。

以薑餅人作為我的出發點,我問:「人與動物之間的平等主義是不可能的嗎?」 [編者註:我們熟識的動畫薑餅人源自同名的民間傳說,又稱「薑餅男孩」,首次出現在 1875 年 5 月的《聖尼古拉斯雜誌》]

我在據點的在地裝置包括一段蒙太奇視頻,片名為《最後一笑》,講述了人類與動物之間的鬥爭。它還結合了一個迷你裝置,《薑餅人的宿命》,以雕塑去註釋視頻。在準備這兩個作品時,我從網上收集了豐富的影像素材,拼貼方式處理和重新創作。動畫元素旨在為找到的物體和圖像注入生命和運動。由環境聲和虛構的聲音組成的暗黑聲景,模擬著現實世界;而過渡性的沉默則加強了張力,激發了觀眾對作品的想像。整個裝置運用了雕塑技巧,為整個作品注入了一種幻象感。

details of Niki Siu’s sculpture “The Gingerbreadman’s Destiny” (middle tier)

 

Thoughts behind the work
薑餅人所牽引的社會契約和平權問題

 

In the preparatory phase of GT, I researched the concept of utilitarianism. It is pointed out that animals can feel happiness and pain. I put it to support my argument. More similar research continued until the completion of my GT: my focus gradually shifts to revealing human’s selfishness. A lot of how humans treat animal is in fact under contemplated, and for the sheer satisfaction of their curiosity. Humans are utilitarians, always taking pleasure and happiness as excuses to support animals being used as lab subjects. Tom Regan (1989), advocate of animal rights, argues that humans could not provide sufficient reasons to support their viewpoint.

The idea of contractarianism raises questions on the origin and legitimacy of moral norms. This suggests that animals could not enjoy their right since humans could not understand the contractual relation within the community of dogs, cats and endangered species. Humans only care about how animals satisfy their emotional benefits. Humans have failed to feel obliged to help, protect and care for wild animals and lab animals. In Regan’s view, our concern for animal rights remains deficient even after Rawls improved on earlier versions of contractarianism. [Editor’s note: Rawls and other contemporary philosophers improved on Hobbes’ ideas and combine moral contracts and political contracts — contractarianism — which holds that social subjects are motivated to accept morality out of self interest, as opposed to contractualism, developed from Kant, which argues that the foundation of rationality is mutual respect based on moral principles. In both cases, animals are left out of the contract.]

Regan notices young children and mentally disabled humans are often treated the same way as animals who do not have fair consciousness. Utilitarian Raymond G. Frey [– who argues against granting rights to animals –] also thinks healthy animals’ value is higher than unhealthy humans’ (Med 2007) — the latter could be used, not an animal. The moral discourses addressing animals are astounding. Jeremy Bentham (1789) pointed out that many wrong questions were raised, “Can they reason? Nor talk?” Instead, we should ask,  “Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection for any sensitive being?” Since animals can feel happiness and pain, animals’ encounters can be considered inhuman morality. Using animals as food, experiments, or for progress, is still moral in utilitarian thoughts; the immoral is without considering animals’ welfare. Humans inflict pain on animals unrestrainedly and wantonly. However, Regan thought utilitarianism is nothing more than the satisfaction of desires. Humans and animals did not have value initially. Whereas utilitarianism advocates the same benefit for different individuals, it does not approve of the inherent value in an individual.

Frey argues that humans need to be willing to make equal judgments for disabled and mentally disabled people as they do to animals — for they are all lacking the ability to base their desires on beliefs. However, animals have purposes for themselves, not a tool for getting human benefits.We must have the same viewpoint for humans and animals if we admit the latter, too, have inherent value. Therefore, humans have no right to exploit animals even if humans benefit from animals.

Vaccination and animals right has been a popular topic in recent years. For global examples, we have vaccine launching (2020); we also witness citizens fighting against government projects in euthanasia of wild animals such as mice, wild boars, cows, hamsters and so on (2021). People from different countries protest against mandated vaccines against COVID-19 (2020 – Present). Now, humans still strive for something which is a benefit. Humans are prioritized over animals sent to labs. When the government damages animal habitats, citizens feel resentful. However, they believe animals must be subject to an experiment to contribute to the world. There is indeed a long tradition of thoughts behind all this which we have failed to think through. I hope my work will make some visitors start re-examining the grounds of our action towards animals.

 

Site view at Floating Projects: 8 news items describing animals used in laboratory experiments

在籌備畢業論文的階段,我研究了「功利主義」的概念。有人指出,動物可以感受到快樂和痛苦。我用它來支持我的論點。更多類似的研究一直持續到我完成論文:我的重點逐漸轉向揭示人類的自私。事實上,許多人類對待動物的方式仍在考慮之中,純粹是為了滿足他們的好奇心。人類是功利主義者,總是以快樂和幸福為藉口支持動物被用作實驗對象。動物權利的倡導者 Tom Regan (1989) 認為,人類其實無法提供足夠的理由來支持他們的觀點。

「自利的契約論」 (contractarianism) 的思想引發了對該道德規範的起源和合法性的質疑。這表明動物不能享有他們的權利,因為人類無法理解狗、貓和瀕危絕滅的物種社群內部的契約關係。人類只關心動物如何滿足他們的情感利益。人類認為沒有義務幫助、保護、照顧野生動物和實驗動物。在 Regan 看來,即使在 Rawls 等改良了社會契約的理念後,我們對動物權益的關注仍然不足,未能進到對改良人類看待動物的方針或如何與它們共存。 [編者註:John Rawls 和好些當代哲學家以 Thomas Hobbes 的討論為本,把道德契約和政治契約結合來看,成為「自利的契約論」contractarianism,認為社會主體接受道德的約束的動機以自身的利益出發;這和依循康德 (Kant)發展出來的另一支契約論 — 「非自利的契約論」 contractualism — 有所不同。後者認為理性的基礎是基於道德的相互尊重原則。然而無論是前者或是後者,動物依然都被排除在只關乎人的契約論述之外。]

Regan 認為兒童、智障人士和精神錯亂的人經常與不被公平對待的動物遭遇類似的對待。功利主義者 Raymond G. Frey [——反對賦予動物權益的人——]更認為健康動物的價值高於不健康的人類(Med 2007)。在這情況下,應被使用的是人類,而不是動物。他針對動物的道德話語令人震驚。 Jeremy Bentham (1789) 指出了許多錯誤的問題,「問題不是,牠們能推理嗎?也不,牠們會說話嗎?但是,牠們能受苦嗎?為什麼法律要拒絕保護任何敏感的存在?」因為動物能感覺到幸福與痛苦,動物的遭遇可以被認為是不人道的做法。但使用動物作為食物、實驗或用於發展,在功利主義的思想中仍然是道德的;不道德是不考慮動物福利。人類給動物帶來肆無忌憚的痛苦,肆意妄為。然而,Regan 認為功利主義無非是慾望的滿足。人類和動物最初也沒有價值。功利主義主張為不同的人帶來相同的利益,但它不代表個人的內在價值。 如上所述,如果動物具有內在價值,我們必須有相同的觀點。正如Frey所說,人類需要願意對身體和精神上的殘疾人士做出平等的判斷。動物有其自身的目的和作為,而不單為人類獲得好處而存在。因此,即使人類從動物身上受益,人類也無權剝削動物。

疫苗接種和動物權益是近年的熱門話題。對於全球示例,我們推出了COVID-19疫苗(2020 年);我們還目睹了公民反對政府對老鼠、野豬、牛等野生動物實施安樂死的項目,甚至倉鼠(2021)。在不同的國家,大多數人仍反對強制接種 COVID-19 的疫苗(2020 – 現在)。現在,人類仍在為有利益的東西而奮鬥。人類仍想把動物送進實驗室。但當政府破壞動物棲息地或傷害野生動物時,市民憤憤不平。然而,他們認為動物必須經過科學實驗,為世界作出貢獻。在這一切的背後,這確實存在著我們不曾深思熟慮過的既有思想。我希望我的作品會讓一些觀眾開始重新審視我們對動物採取行動的理由。

 

Gingerbread man and animals’ last laugh, and more…
薑餅人和動物的最後一笑 
… 和更多的災難

 

Site view at Floating Projects: 8-14 May 2022: “The Last Laugh: Gingerbread Man’s Destiny” by Niki Siu (SIU Lai-kei)

 

Why Gingerbread man? 薑餅人?  The name’s origin is the gingerbread man’s story. To avoid being eaten by humans, it escapes. It overcomes different challenges, though eventually consumed by the cunning fox. In my work, the experimental subjects, unfortunately, cannot even escape from the laboratory.

作品標題源自薑餅人的故事。為了不被人類吃掉,它逃跑了。雖然它克服了各種的挑戰。但最後,它被狡猾的狐狸吃掉了。相對而言,在我的作品裡,實驗對象永遠無法離開實驗室。這就是牠們的命運。

Top (left) and Bottom (right) tier of Niki Siu’s sculpture Gingerbread Man’s Destiny (2022)

 

The Last Laugh, video component… 《最後一笑》:錄像論述…  The Last Laugh is a work of montage-collage, a method I have picked up in the last few years. In a two-minute video, I explore animal right from the animals’ viewpoint. Humans are caught by a mysterious man and finally not a single human manages to escape…

《最後一笑》是兩分鐘的視頻,以動物角度去探索動物權益:人類被神秘人抓獲,嘗試逃跑,但最終失敗了… 過去幾年,我學習了蒙太奇拼貼藝術。我嘗試把它套用在這個作品中。

Scenes from Niki Siu’s collage-montage video The Last Laugh (2022)

Watch the video: 2m37s [… …]

 

Blueprint for a 2D sci-fi horror video game on environmental disasters, Lost Island, proposed by Niki Siu, on site as a wall set to add on to the show’s more-than-human perspectives for contemporary society…

 

Lost Island: Dark Side, world-building plan and gameplay…  《失落的荒島:禁區》:遊戲藍圖,建造一個虛擬的世界

Lost Island: Dark Side is a proposal for world-building for a game environment. It is a 2D sci-fi horror  video game, built around a mysterious adventure in escaping the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The lost island is Chernobyl, which was closed by the Soviet government after the disaster, and finally turned into a ruin, isolated from the world.

Each player acts as a Soviet Union chemist, who needs to find time-machine elements around the nuclear plant. The ultimate goal is to for the chemist to return to 1990 from 1986. The progression of storylines is affected by the player’s choice, leading to different endings.

《失落的荒島:禁區》是為遊戲環境構建世界的概念。它講述了逃離切爾諾貝爾核電廠的,這是一款科幻驚悚的 2D 視頻遊戲。名字的由來是因切爾諾貝爾核事故發生後被蘇聯政府關閉,變成了與世隔絕的永久廢墟。 …

玩家為一名蘇聯化學家,在核電廠附近進行探索。在任務中,他們需要收集時光機的零件,協助化學家從1986年返回1990年。同時,玩家的抉擇會影響故事線的發展,從而產生不同的結局。

 

Some treasures I have encountered in the art production process
創作過程裡的拾獲

 

work by He Chong in 2017 賀翀的拼貼作品

Video Laugh At Last seeks to maximize the visual potential of a long-established art form. Collage art is unrestrained traditional thinking and it documents time, life, and history (Yuan 2017). He Chong’s works are unique and retro aesthetic, surreal and full of fantasies. Hung’s works present absurdism proved the perfect artwork in collage art.

Sculptural component Gingerbread Man’s Destiny presents a conventional form to rub out intended shapes. From ancient times, clay has been the material of soft cast. It usually makes a mold build up in liquid for change materials (Anonymous). The clay model needs to be discharge. In this GT, I keep the clay model, which made an illusion model. It references Dorosz’s work. He applied a similar technique to rub shapes using dried pigments.

《 Laugh At Last》視頻旨在最大限度地發揮拼貼藝術的視覺潛力。拼貼藝術是一種歷史悠久,無拘無束的傳統思維,它記錄了時間、生活和歷史(Yuan 2017)。北京藝術家賀翀 (HE Chong) 的作品具有獨特而復古的審美,超現實且充滿幻想。本地藝術家洪澄欣的作品呈現出荒誕主義,被證明是拼貼藝術中的完美藝術品。拼貼藝術不一定是靜止。通過活動、聲音、真實片段令畫面更豐富和動感。無聲畫面進一步擴闊想像空間。

Rosh (Chris Dorosz, 2017)

《薑餅人的宿命》則呈現出一種傳統的形式,可以揉出任何形狀。自古以來,陶泥一直是軟鑄的材料。它通常會形成模具以更換物料(匿名者),而陶泥模型最終都會被丟棄的。在這個畢業作品中,我保留了陶泥部分,與魚絲線結合,製作了一個幻覺模型。它参考了 Dorosz 的作品。他應用了一種類似的技術,用乾燥的顏料揉搓形狀。

 

 

 

 

Dad Loves Eating Sticky Rice Dumplings Wrapped With Rocks (Hung Ching-yan, 2021)

 

 

Reference:

Anonymous. Sculpture: Casting and molding History. Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/art/sculpture/Symbolism

Bentham, J (1789). An Introduction to the Principle of Morals and Legislation

Bredemeier, K. (2021, Oct 20). Disputes Over Vaccination Mandates Mutiplying in US. Voanews. Retrieved from https://www.voanews.com/a/disputes-over-vaccination-mandatesmultiplying-in-us/6278965.html

Hung, C,Y. (2015). YAN F!ON’s Portfolio. Retrieved from https://www.hungchingyan.com/

Kia. (2016). Kia’s Portfolio. Retrieved from https://www.artpal.com/raabkia0?i=206484-12

Med, E,J. (2007), The ethics of animals experimentation. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658312/

Regan, T. (1989), The Case For Animal Right. Facutly Webster. Retrieved from http://faculty.webster.edu/corbetre/philosophy/animals/regan-text.html

Yuan, S (2017, Oct 5). The college Art. Neo Cha. Retrieved from https://neocha.com/magazine/the-collage-art-of-he-chong/

 

Niki Siu 蕭麗琦 is a fresh graduate from the School of Creative Media’s Bachelor of Arts program. More about Niki Siu [… …].