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不斷反覆的不同巴比倫城與巴別塔 ─ 閱讀林珮淳《夏娃克隆巴別塔創造文件I、II》等新作

林珮淳夏娃克隆巴別塔創造文件數位版畫當代藝術黃海鳴

2023-10-26|撰文者:黃海鳴(藝評家/前台北市立美術館館長)

Repetitive Variations of Different Babylons and Babel Towers
--Reading Pey-Chwen Lin's "Eve Clone Babel Documentation I, II" and other new works 

By Prof. Hai-Ming Hung, Renowned Art Critic/Former Director of Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Preface

My initial impression upon viewing Pey-Chwen Lin's "Eve Clone Babel Documentation I and II": There exist numerous Babylonian cities both in ancient times and today. To gain a deep and contextual understanding of these Babylonian cities, intertwined with figures like the Great Prostitute and the Babel Tower, it's essential to place everything within the context of the Bible's accounts of injustices within these Babylonian cities and the subsequent severe punishments. This contextual exploration is vital for a comprehensive understanding of "Eve Clone Babel Documentation I and II."

In this article, I will divide it into two parts: the first part delves into the Biblical depictions of Babylon and the Babel Tower, while the second part explores the new, particularly within the knowledge economy, digital virtual networks, and even the era of the metaverse, presenting distinct depictions of Babylon and the Babel Tower. The first part will revolve around the historical methods in the Bible by which God destroyed or punished unjust cities, while the second part commences with insights from Pey-Chwen's works and extends into contemplations on the intricate depictions of various superpowers on a transnational scale.

2022 “Somatosensory Boundary “, Remarkable Cultivation Fine Arts Museum, Tainan, Taiwan. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN

Part One

Methods by Which God Destroys or Punishes Unjust Cities:

1. The Great Flood of Noah's Time and Its Causes

The Great Flood during Noah's era was a direct judgment from God. The Bible describes the state of humanity before the flood as having hearts that were utterly hardened and unrepentant. The situation had deteriorated to such an extent that "The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain" (Genesis 6:6).

2. Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed by Sulfur and Fire:

God, who created everything and breathed life into human beings, originally saw all that He had made as very good. However, humanity's actions led to His disappointment, resulting in the Great Flood as punishment. Even after the Great Flood of Noah, God symbolized His continued mercy and care for His people by setting the rainbow as a sign. Nonetheless, five hundred years later, during Abraham's time, God rained sulfur and fire upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as an expression of His wrath and punishment for the wicked, the self-righteous, the proud, and the morally corrupt individuals.

As per the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were so severe that God decided to destroy these cities. However, due to Abraham's compassion for the city's residents, he bargained with God. Ultimately, after angels urged Lot, his wife, and two daughters to flee the city, God rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the heavens, utterly destroying the entire region and its cities.

3. God's Punishment on Babylon:

(1) Babylon, which sought earthly glory and indulgence against God's will, met its downfall.

According to the Old Testament of the Bible, the ancestors of humanity discovered a fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where they settled and constructed cities. Over time, they decided to build a tower reaching into the heavens, known as the Tower of Babel. They used bricks and river mud as building materials. When the tower's top reached the heavens, the Lord descended to observe the city and the tower. He was both surprised and angered, viewing it as a symbol of human vanity. People were failing to honor God's will and instead sought to surpass and replace Him.

Furthermore, in 587 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire destroyed the Kingdom of Judah, burned down the city of Jerusalem, and captured about ten thousand prominent citizens, leaving only the poorest people. This historical event is known as the "Babylonian Captivity." The Jewish people in Babylon were primarily enslaved and forced to work on the construction of the city for Nebuchadnezzar until the arrival of the Persian Emperor Cyrus, who saved them 70 years later.

The Jewish people, having become a conquered nation, held deep-seated resentment. Though powerless to reverse their fate, they expressed their anger through their thoughts. Consequently, in the eyes of the Jewish people, the "Gate of God" of the Babylonians became tainted with sin and was cursed. They declared a curse, saying, "So desert creatures and hyenas will live there, and there the owl will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation." Because of Belshazzar's arrogance and negligence, all of Babylon's officials were summoned to a feast one night, where they drank and reveled without paying serious attention to the city's defenses. Cyrus, the Persian king, easily took control of Babylon through a clever plan and killed Belshazzar. This marked the end of the glorious history of the Babylonian kingdom, and Babylon itself gradually fell into ruins and desolation in subsequent history. The Bible states, "For their wickedness, they made the land desolate forever."

(2) The Widespread Immorality in the Magnificent and Luxurious City of Babylon

Within Pey-Chwen's work, Babylon city, the Tower of Babel, and the Great Prostitute are intricately intertwined, supported by substantial references in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 17:1-2 describes the vision: "One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her, the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.'" Revelation 17:5 even provides her name: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth." The "many waters" in the ure refer to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and the Great Prostitute is closely associated with the great Babylon city, warranting further explanation.

In the Bible's accounts, Babylon is depicted as a hub of immorality, serving as a stark example of moral decay, largely due to the nation's specific practices. According to the accounts of the Greek historian Herodotus, every Babylonian woman was required to serve as a temple harlot for the goddess Aphrodite for a portion of her life, engaging in intercourse with strangers. However, within the temple, they were not considered prostitutes but rather were regarded as sacred representatives.

As the temple harlots represented the goddess Aphrodite, many regarded her as a deity associated with promiscuity. However, in the eyes of the Babylonians, the goddess Aphrodite symbolized not only the goddess of love but also the goddess of fertility, war, agriculture, and was both a mother and a harlot. She often appeared in a hermaphroditic form.

To reiterate, the term "Great Prostitute" refers to the city of Babylon, which harbors various sources of evil and carries a lengthy name: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth." Therefore, Great Babylon represents all erroneous religions, acting as the "Mother" to the "harlots." This analogy stems from the fact that various erroneous religions worldwide, including many Christian denominations, appear to imitate Babylon's spiritual promiscuity. She is also recognized as the "Mother of Abominations" because numerous abominable religious customs find their origins in her, such as idol worship, divination, astrology, palmistry, temple prostitution, human sacrifices, drunken revelry in honor of false gods, and various other immoral practices.

Furthermore, archaeologists and historians suggest that the Tower of Babel had two additional purposes apart from serving as a place of worship for the Holy Spirit. One aim was to exalt personal glory and majesty in the image of God, as attempted by Nebuchadnezzar II, for eternal remembrance. The other was to appease various religious priestly groups that held extensive lands and wealth, securing their support to maintain power. This insight aids in better understanding the intricate connection between Babylon, the Tower of Babel, and the Great Prostitute, along with the complex and intense contextual background they entail.

2022 “Somatosensory Boundary “, Remarkable Cultivation Fine Arts Museum, Tainan, Taiwan. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN

Part Two

1. Analysis of “Eve Clone Babel Documentation I, II ":

In the work " Eve Clone Babel Documentation I, II," Pey-Chwen appropriates Da Vinci's hand-drawn "Vitruvian Man," city and map sketches, as well as ancient Babel Tower paintings from various eras to express the ancient Babylonian civilization. She uses computer software to construct today's Babylon City, blending elements such as the New York Empire State Building, Taipei 101, the Eiffel Tower, the United Nations, the European Union Building, and more, creating a 3D digital and futuristic virtual metropolis. Pey-Chwen even employs an AI generator to make distinctive Babel Towers. Subsequently, she positions hand-drawn sketches, digital grids, metallic textures, and the "Eve Clone" image with skin color atop the Babel Tower, extending her hands in a posture that symbolizes ruling the world, transcending different eras from ancient to contemporary and into the future.

My initial observation of this series reveals that all the Babel Towers depicted, with the Great Prostitute positioned atop them, are perfect and complete. The neighboring Babel Towers, representing diverse regions and eras, including contemporary ones, remain intact. Among the series, the Babel Tower of Babylon stands as the tallest, largest, and most magnificent. The use of a color resembling aged documents in the background suggests that even these new skyscrapers have become archaeological records within biblical history. Why do these Babel Towers, originally intended to remain incomplete, still stand magnificent, beautiful, and finished in this series? Is it the pride of humanity's perpetual quest to surpass God's Babel Tower?

The massive Babel Tower depicted in the artwork occupies the center stage, symbolizing various incarnations of Babel Towers from different regions and eras worldwide. It can be said that this Babel Tower has always been a secular archetype for humanity. Many similar Babel Towers existed before, and various Babel Towers will emerge in the future. One could argue that there has always been a desire, dating back to God's creation of humanity, to collaboratively construct a great Tower of Babel, an ambition as grand as that of God Himself. This unchanging aspiration to supplant God has connected various Babel Towers from different eras and regions, and this enduring defiance of God's intention has been foretold.

PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I A, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 120x120x5cm each, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN
PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I B, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 120x120x5cm each, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN
PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I C, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 120x120x5cm each, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN

2. Contemporary Transnational Corporate Network of Babel Tower Clusters

(1) Globalized Supranational Corporate Networks
From today's standpoint, the mechanism guiding and uniting various Babel Tower clusters around the world is likely what we refer to as "supranational corporations." These entities typically possess impressive corporate structures and extensive international collaboration networks. To attain this level of development, a knowledge-based economy is essential. Throughout this process, business owners require a substantial workforce of knowledge workers equipped with the latest insights, the capacity to integrate diverse technologies, an innovative spirit, and the ability to continually generate new products to meet evolving customer demands.

Presently, global corporate management has entered its fourth phase. In the initial phase, companies distributed their products overseas through channels. After gaining a foothold, they moved on to the second phase, establishing overseas subsidiaries to handle local operations. Subsequently, these subsidiaries evolved into operational hubs for the company across different regions, capable of independent functioning, marking the third phase. In the fourth phase, companies no longer maintain a central headquarters; their headquarters encompass the globe. This is recognized as "supranational corporations," wherein high-level executives and core business functions are dispersed across different countries to leverage the best talent, funding, cost-efficiency, or proximity to customers.

Historically, global corporate operations emphasized "homogenization," with companies selling similar products and services worldwide to capitalize on economies of scale. But what is the present state of globalization? "On the contrary, supranational corporations seek the uniqueness of different regions, cities, and industries. They value geographical and cultural distinctions. They mine knowledge in the vast global pool, which is far more effective than relying solely on their headquarters, local subsidiaries, or exceptional operational centers for creating new and enhanced capabilities." Products have become more diverse and quickly respond to and intensify human desires.

PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation II A, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 60x60x3cm, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN
PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation II B, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 60x60x3cm, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN
PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation II C, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 60x60x3cm, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN

(2) Metaverse Era: New Complex Relationships between Virtual and Physical Realms in Interconnected Worlds
Although virtual reality constitutes a highly simulated 3D environment based on the real world, it remains wholly distinct from reality. In contrast, the metaverse establishes real-time connections between the virtual world and the real world, synchronizing people's activities in the virtual realm with their real-world actions. In the virtual world, using avatars that represent users, individuals can meet friends, shop, travel together, and even hold meetings and collaborate with others, just as they would in the real world. Thus far, virtual reality has been primarily utilized in the gaming and entertainment industry, with limited degrees of freedom. On the other hand, the metaverse expands the real world into virtual reality and augmented reality, returning products from the virtual realm to the physical world. This envelops both virtual and real ecosystems, offering considerable freedom. Users in the real world are linked to their 3D avatars in virtual spaces, enabling control over all activities in the virtual realm. Previously, virtual reality was provider-centric, but the metaverse has become user-centric, allowing users to independently develop or create content and objects and sell them for profit. In this ever-advancing Tower of Babel, it becomes increasingly invisible and harder to resist.

PEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I A, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 120x120x5cm each, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LINPEY-CHWEN LIN, Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I A, 3D Animation image, Hand Drawing, UV Inkjet Printing on Metal Plate Size: 120x120x5cm each, 2022. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN

(3) Experimenting with a New Interpretation Model:
Returning to the opening lines of the second part of this text: "She further employs computer software to craft today's Great Babylon, a 3D digital and futuristic virtual metaverse city, blending iconic structures such as the New York Empire State Building, Taipei 101, the Eiffel Tower, the United Nations, and the European Union buildings." We can interpret it as follows: what is presented here is a network map of various global power structures. This super new Babel Tower, at its core, influences the destiny of humanity through the operation of international power networks. Pey-Chwen's work transports us back to biblical times and to our present day.

Pey-Chwen's art series encourages us to reflect on significant ongoing events, such as the war between the Soviet Union and Ukraine and the myriad of complex interests involved. The video work "Making of Eve Clone IIA: Putin’s Talk," featuring a speech by Putin's virtual avatar, suddenly reveals a new pattern within this context, almost like a long-distance remote meeting and negotiation between international powers, where international power organizations determine the fate of smaller countries. But who ultimately decides the fate of these powerful nations and organizations?


 
“Making of Eve Clone IIA:Putin’s Talk” is a continuation series of “Making of Eve Clone II" interactive installation which is emphasizing on the imitation ability of Eve Clone who can mimic the facial expression of the audience in real time. In this video “Making of Eve Clone IIA": Putin’s Talk” shows that “Eve Clone” has become President Putin who is explaining the reasons of Russia’s war against Ukraine on date February 24, 2022. This series will be further developed to include other ambitious figures from various countries, using Eve Clone to represent their voices and expressions from public speeches, representing their faces of those in power who are in control of technology, culture, politics, or the military. Media: Digital Video and Sound Projection, 3D Animation, Facial and Voice Recognition System, Mobile Phone, Computer. Dimensions: Depends on exhibition site. Video Length: 2:33. @ PEY-CHWEN LIN
 

REFERENCE

《夏娃克隆巴別塔創造文件I》系列A、B、C
《夏娃克隆巴別塔創造文件II》A、B、C
夏娃克隆創造計畫IIA:普丁演說
面對「整體≧複雜關係網絡」的焦慮 ─ 耘非凡「體感邊界―當代藝術的跨接與共顯」特展
Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation I A,B,C
Making of Eve Clone Babel Documentation II A, B, C
Making of Eve Clone IIA: Putin’s Talk

林珮淳夏娃克隆巴別塔創造文件數位版畫當代藝術黃海鳴
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