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Notation of Time-Title Calligraphy by Artist Xu Bing

Notations of Time-Book is an assemblage consisting of pages with holes carved out of them bound together in book form. The idea for this work came from observing the holes that worms eat out of books. Looking at this cut and tattered artwork, it is surprisingly beautiful while challenging our observational experience and aesthetical judgment.

I was fortunate enough to do a tactile reading of this book, Notations on Time. Looking up close, I saw seemingly machine-cut edges outlining holes with topographic contours that shrink as they extend into the depths only to open up into yet another cave when they seem to reach bottom, causing a mild case of vertigo. When you look long enough, you will have dreamy thoughts of wormholes, caves, ancient geographic features, biological entities, splitting cells, even allusions to sex - basically any and all imagery regarding life, time and space.

As you flip between single pages, you see Chen Qi's familiar ordered beauty: sensitive interaction between curves, flowing spatial relationships between shapes, and an elegant, flat narrative like gossamer. When multiple pages are stacked together, the various holes from different pages form a disjointed outline, creating the beginnings of an illusion effect: shapes changing, shadows shifting. Through the illusory effect produced by the shift from two dimensions to three, physical forms are transformed into chemical ones, and a kind of 'breathing vapor' fills the spaced between the pages.

By Professor Qian Dajing,
Dean of Research Institute of Public Arts, the Shanghai University

Notation of Time-Black Book 60x50x4cm 2010

Notation of Time-White Book 60x50x4cm,2010