What are the lines we draw? What makes ‘difference’ discernible? A face inhabits space. We infer on it our own perceptions. An immediate sense of its relation to and/or struggle against the world—its transformations, its failures, its fictions—directs us to consider the face. The living face is one haunted from within by an inner quantum difference: by a world as if unto itself. Using the foreground image of a single self(ie) portrait-photograph taken after days of unending wakefulness, the artist Isoje Chou considers her own face as a fluid space where ‘lines’ mark the material sense of drawing on a surface as well as other lines: lines of the being in the ancient Chinese face map, ‘Heaven Human Earth’. How much (how little) is needed to distort or place how we see a face? A person’s face may declare particle difference of socio/cultural identity (or the existential difficulty of acceptance in same). But the face goes beyond available markers into smouldering quantum difference—by dint of one’s unique orders and disorders: one’s Heaven Human Earth. It is this stunning reality of otherness as solitary, human plight that difference ultimately exists at the level of each person’s devastating singularity—beyond ‘race’ or country of origin—in the otherness of each person’s ‘four bundles existence’ in the world. In this sense, we are each like the autist, inconsolably isolated; and ancient face maps reveal to us stunning instances of the loneliness of living in the world in any manner of deviation from its norms. What about AI and the new algorithms fast on the way? Will AI be the much needed relief from the tyranny of essentialist rejection…or will AI become but a new tyranny of absolute measurement of belonging and rejection for which our faces, as ancient face maps suggest, have always served?

This book HEAVEN HUMAN EARTH is many things. It is an experiment of lines; the dynamism of drawing as medium, or this: lines* as marks of difference and isolation. Or is it something else altogether? An exhibition, which for want of opportunities, became instead a book. A way for the artist to re-write F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Crack Up in her own singularity, using her own face. What exactly are the ‘markers’, we ask, what makes the face of this singular otherness, this outsider—i.e. what are the (dis)qualifiers, the displacers—of the human trying to exist in the world? Heaven Human Earth offers absurd suggestions such as fictional hairs inside nostrils. The artist seems to suggest a space beyond comprehension, a universal plight from simply being. To be alive today includes the experience of spaces where wrath is swift and the question of belonging a constant sore. Is this book a way for the artist to come to terms with her own isolation? Surely others inhabit these spaces as well? For many, the question of place and identity is a ten fold struggle.

December 19, 2017

*In the Deleuzean sense (in that essay of his, which scholars of Deleuze are much better in the know of) ‘line of life’ consists of three main lines: flight, border, and frontier; molar, molecular, quantum.