The equilibrium of Discourse



"Where there is discourse, there is power. Power is the omnipresent dominance in


Michel Foucault, Power/Discourse, Theory and Practice.

I made this installation to express the trend and process to reach linguistic equilibrium. The main body is composed of a black iron frame, and the top is wrapped with jute rope to divide the linguistic battlefield into separate parts to represent 'positions' of the debaters . I covered the rope with a translucent acrylic plate and poured black iron oxide powder and some rusty nails on it.

The installation is 'two-sided'. The front is a sandbox-like battlefield while the back is decorated with powerful magnets with unequal magnetic force, which can be regarded as an interactive setting that could be moved and controlled by 'discussants'.

Because of the magnetism of the iron oxide (Fe3So4) , when the magnets on the back of the device are moved, the sand like powder starts to interact with magnets, forming and growing  as a spiked tree-like structure. But once the magnets are kept away from the powder, they would return to their original state. This outcome led to the question that is the violence of discourse given by the participants, or is the topic itself violent?

I invited a friend to operate with me interactively. The front of the installation will change radially with the moving magnetic force, which highlights 'topic and participants' hot spots’. It indicates that the stress of the discourse will also be leveled up. From the beginning to the end, this kind of restraint nevertheless was controlled under the magnetic field as a whole, and the power/ force exists continuously and sustain in the equilibrium in a wider balance.