Things just as they are: this is the proposal of Yangbiao Zhang, a young artist, in his latest exhibition entitled “Capture”.

In the current state of technology, we have taken pride and refuge in two types of worlds: the microscopic, which, because of its smallness in comparison to us, remains invisible to human eyes; and on the other side, in the remote world belonging to the astronomy, which also needs sophisticated instruments to make the hidden visible. Point Yangbiao´s work inserts itself right in the middle, in the common person´s gaze, which needs just a pair of eyes to perceive any object. Double points: his gaze is a human one, where there is no necessity of any instrument or esoteric knowledge reserved to the elites.

From a philosophical point of view, the objects represented by Yangbiao could remind us of Heidegger:

More specifically, it is human beings alone who (a) operate in their everyday activities with an understanding of Being (although, as we shall see, one which is pre-ontological, in that it is implicit and vague) and (b) are able to reflect upon what it meant to be (Being and Time 4: 32).

This pre-ontological knowledge to which Heidegger refers to is the one giving us the opportunity to manipulate everyday common objects on a daily basis. Objects like the ones represented by Yangbiao´s paintings: washing machines, bottles, showers, rolls of toilet paper, etc. It is precisely on this point where the artificial intelligence seems to have failed: understanding that the human brain does not work by simply using and recycling previously stored information. Moreover, the ability to actually use all the previously mentioned objects, needs a degree of a pre-ontological knowledge, still unreached by today´s technology.

In this sense, the capacity to operate everyday life objects and instruments precedes the human being ability to theorize. Both the eyes and Yangbiao´s brushes indicate the same type of truth, also suggested by the Greek term aletheia (ἀλήθεια), which practically means disclosure. Nevertheless, we do not find ourselves before a revelation obtained through theoretical efforts, or through the help of microscopes and telescopes, but before the truth revealed by everyday objects. Only in them we can find and capture the footprints of our existence.  

James R. Cantre

Translated from Spanish by Vlad Sirbu

Being and Time, translated by J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962 (first published in 1927).

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