Spiritual System Opposing Internet System?
A processed interview with Zhang Ji
Christabel Yiming Sun
Question(Q): Who are you? (name, age, occupation)
Zhang(Z): Zhang Ji, 23, born in Beijing. I am currently working on a jewellery project in Milan. I just landed in Milan this morning.
Q: Is spirituality the inspiration of your practice?
Z: This project is based on my spiritual theory and spiritual system. I have been developing my own system for years and completed it recently. It is also a system to be applied in future-telling. It is a numeral notation based on the number six, including composition of 4/9 and 6/6 that articulate a process of energy distribution. We can unfold it later.
Q: Is it true that you see spirits?
Z: We should put it in another way. Spirit or ghost, they are a sense of human organism, a reserved sense unlike the other five major senses we are familiar with. It is a capacity of organism to read stimuli that provide data. From vision, audition, olfaction, gustation and somatosensation, we sense and get informed by a range of data and so are able to construct perception, to describe how we feel. Mediated through language, we therefore communicate what we think to one another. The ability to detect other stimuli beyond those ordinary senses also exists, but they are somehow veiled or have been long reserved.
Spirit is a new sense, so to speak, a reserved capacity of our sensory organism. It is reserved because we don’t have the tradition to exercise it. We made use of vision and audition so often that we recognize visual information and audio information easily. If we intend to develop our sensory experience of olfaction and somatosensation in long term exercising, we would have gained access to the reality much differently with dimensional feedback from life experience. In fact, they are all kinds of data.
The capacity to sense the spirits has remained out of literal language in our world. We have few word to name and speak about it, which make it hard to translate. Things associated with spiritual sense probably have relevance to feeling of detecting substance of space and content of time. Such feelings nevertheless tend to translate initially into forms of visual information. Simply because vision is the chief sense of human beings.
Q: When is the first time you saw them?
Zhang: The first time I detected them was at the age of 4 or 5. They were indeed visually intense information. It’s a communication, an exchange of data. It had a lot of connections to the space, where I was.
Q: How does it feel like seeing/communicating with them?
Zhang: Like you are communicating with data directly.
Q: How do you recognize them (as themselves, as existence)?
Zhang: They are data themselves, so am I. Let me explain it another way. It feels like yourself, as human being, as a body, a mind, your spirit embodied from a space, your spirit come so close to their spirit as to come into contact with them. There is the certain tension right in between your spirit and theirs.
The tension hold, so does the data exchange. If you pour out a cup of water onto a table surface, the flow of water allowed by your gesture and energy is telling a particular tension between your energy and table’s, which further defines your relation to space. Tension exists everywhere, arching from space to time, attaching to objects. It enables objects to transform. Located in a particular space, your spirit should have its own tension, a driving force, such as centrifugal and centripetal force. The gravity, engulfs it as well as the spirits.
If there is a spirit over there right now, your spirit will grow a relation to it.
Q: How do you make sense of yourself as being able to see a different world than your peers?
Zhang: Self-identification is a tough thing for me, always. It involves problems. From time to time, you get people think you are mentally sick, after all it is an excessive work of sensing, generally speaking. You get lonely, sometimes it is just deep and innermost. Because a large part of your life is impossible to express to others. You may only write it down and talk to the spirits, which annoyed me often in my earlier years.
Q: How does this ability and communication change your life?
Zhang: As growing up, I develop a practice in drawing and writing to record as well as express myself, and now I have created my spiritual system. It became a special language for me to self-reflect and produce, in spite of the lack of external communication which is still significant, it nurtured me internally and began to be my advantage position. Because of the capacity, I get to know the world through exceptional paths with exceptional accessibilities, which I can make use of to help people who may understand little but are willing to be helped, to be told and induced about the upcoming. Only then I realized my system helps: it elicits sympathetic reaction from certain people; it evokes their spiritual energy from reservation. This is what I have been doing in my recent project. The jewellery I made, as well as the system, are all for my client, for their spiritual practice and need.
Q: How do you think people are interested in and able to understand your work in the contemporary art context and market?
Zhang: I don’t know. The collectors of my works are my clients. I guess that those who understand my system understand my artworks. Most of my paintings are literal. I see a figure of a man, feel its spirit, represent it by abstract lines. There are also complicated works. The photography. In my photographic works, there are a lot of sensory logics, which could be distant to the mass. But I could not bother, those logics exist and so my clients sense them. It is such a fantastic thing, very exclusive – if you see what I mean – the incommunicable sympathetic!
The incommunicability is in fact communicable in certain levels. To further elaborate, let’s imagine a para-world. If only three people over there opened their eyes, while the rest were all blind, only these three people can actually have a discussion on what the color red is! Isn’t it fantastic! The blinds have no idea of the colour red, but we three can talk about it, though not be able to know the truth of it. The fact that we can talk about it is the most fabulous thing I suppose.
It’s the process of developing my current art project as well. In photography, I think about space, colour and layers, about that the world is a construction of consciousness. Vision is one path of data, I don’t take it at least. I take the combination of the multipath of data so as to approach the world. It is about how to combine the multitude. Lines are lines. Existed images are existed images. I collect and integrate all these data into simple and conceptual work, during a whole process that resembles the modality of reasoning.
Q: Can you talk more about the spiritual system? What are these numbers standing for? (Fig. 3 & 4)
Fig. 3 Spiritual System
Fig. 4 Spiritual System
Z: It depicts a process of energy distribution, consists of thirty-six ghost positions. I mark it as “ghost”, unnecessarily mean it. Literal language applied here is only for the sake of interpretation, as a subordinary way, in order to compromise the communication culture of our world.
Both number and text are signals I use. They are by no mean accurate but at most communicable. Thirty-six ghost positions in noun form stand for thirty-six variations of energy. And there are two structures of distribution, the 4/9 and the 6/6. In the 4/9 division, there are nine groups in four directions, whereas in the 6/6, there are six individuals set in six directions.
Q: How come you decide to construct your own spiritual system?
Z: It is actually a division, a construction, an algorithm of consciousness, through which we read the world. Future-telling is not what it is made for, it is made for reading the world. As the jewellery I made, the six branches representing six exquisites (Six Ling Long) entangle with one another denotes the system of world. (Pig. 1 & 2)
Fig. 1 & 2 Six Exquisites (Six Ling Long) Jewellery
Is there any reason? I don’t think there is any. Everyone born into the world has its own initial driving force. I find it my driving force. It is the energy of my spirit that calls at me, activates me to execute it.
If seeing from more secular view, if seeing from my view of the “untrustworthy body”, I am willing to bring this system out to the world and so hopefully make the world better.
I am, frankly speaking, concerned about making the world better. I personally feel it unprogressive or progressively worse. Human beings are either getting severely bleak of natural capacities or they just know too little to progress. Human beings are sharing the urge to progress, and this progression is in need to be provided and presented in communicable language at the first place so that people can get to expand self-reflection and upgrade self-identity. If we still are to stay at the present sensing level, we would be crushed and flattened eventually by the World-Wide-Web. My spiritual system may appear as opposite to the internet system, which could be a good thing for the future of human beings.