According to the Baidu Baike, China’s online encyclopaedia, at the Thirteenth General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1967, second was defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom. This definition refers to a caesium atom at rest, approaching the theoretical temperature of absolute zero (0 K), in a magnetic-free environment. Time, as a philosophical concept, is not actually in existence. In philosophy, time indicates the sequence of birth and decease of beings. The connotation of time lies in "infinity" and "ongoingness". It can be extended to measure the duration and the sequence of all events. "Infinity" means there is no initiation or termination of time; "ongoingness" means time increment is always a positive number. Meanwhile, time cannot be ceased or reversed. In a broad sense, time is an abstract concept which determines the nature of each and every matter.
I have numerous wall charts in my collection. One of them is about atomic bombs, which appeal to me particularly.
China once beheld divided opinions about atomic bombs. Until China’s first ever launch of an atomic bomb in Lop Nur at 3 p.m., Oct. 16th, 1964, Chinese were against atom bombs. However, they did not oppose the Soviet Union’s plan of using atom bombs to contend against the United States.
Based on the Wall Chart For Residents against Atomic Weapons, I made a film called 195806, naming after the publication date of the chart.
I am also intrigued by the localization of those Soviet images, which was basically the history of fine arts in modern China.
The film only features several images of the wall chart, which I used to turn days into nights. Although between every two images are only 4-minute intervals, they may seem unbearably long for the audience. The character, hiding in the shade, falls into an eternal sleep. The pedals of a fallen bicycle in the farmland has stopped spinning. Black smoke comes out of the chimney afar. Rain in front of the camera keeps washing everything in the world in vain, filled with the aroma of the soil.
I spent quite some time making music for the film. At the beginning of 2015, I accidentally found out that the sound, which I had been long obsessed with, came from a synthesizer called Buchla, resembling a mysterious message from extraterrestrials through a short wave radio. There was no way to find the synthesizer after 1974, until last year when its replica came out. Most of the film’s audio tracks were generated by that synthesizer. The heartbeat is an exception – it was taken from the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and the intro music of the Future World produced in 1976, the first science fiction film introduced to China.
In 1999, influenced by the pessimism of the century’s end, I drew a series of pictures named The Last Three Minutes, inspired by my first reading of Paul Davies’s book, The Last Three Minutes in 1996. The idea that humans and their civilization would be ultimately destroyed was profoundly meaningful to me. It was terrific that all those overwhelmingly ravishing calligraphy, paintings and music would be devastated eventually.
Some day, there will be only one last person in the world to witness the end of the world, while the universe, in a narrow sense, can exist forever, which brings us back to the debate of time.