My last night in Taipei was also the opening of the new 台北當代藝術館 MOCA exhibition, 平行輸入 Pseudo Hackers Art in Parallel Zones.
“Parallel Zones” here refers to the situation in which some artists try to control existing terms and conditions, in order to use their own ability and will to actively engage in the method of production for a certain existing system. The goal of this exhibition is to present and explore how artists express their interest and sensitivity towards various social phenomena through their works in this era filled with various forms of knowledge and information. The chosen artists have maintained a neutral attitude towards mainstream values; both the artists themselves and their works endeavor at examining and reviewing contemporary culture and society. Their works have stepped into the production system of contemporary culture and society with their unique artistic approaches. Moreover, they may try to show the existing or hidden problems of the system through a kind of “unheard” language mechanism. Therefore, the exhibition curator has borrowed the phrase “Pseudo Hackers’Art” to give a general definition of these artists’spiritual and artistic characteristics.
Hackers’ Art in Parallel Zones
2005/1/29 ~ 2005/3/20
Curators in MOCA, 2005
Pseudo Hackers’Art in Parallel Zones
When translated literally, the Chinese “Ping Hsing Shu Ju” rendered as “parallel zones” in the title, can be interpreted in two different ways in English; “Parallel Importation” and “Parallel Input.” Of these, the former infers a tangible/intangible result involving a third party and either some form of roundabout introduction or alternative method of delivery. The latter means that based on one’s own capabilities and determination or will, an individual with a good understanding of current conditions and circumstances, takes the initiative in entering or engages in autonomous/self-help/self-organized/spontaneous production in an existing system. These two types of action could involve precursors to ego or focus on a variety of objects that benefit others. As a method for realizing certain goals the former may be easier, but there this has been consistently disputed. Although the latter may have more value it clearly also requires greater effort to be successful.
Taking “Ping Hsing Shu Ju” with its simple yet dual meaning as the curatorial focus of an exhibition is intended to emphasize the multiple forces and complexity that underpin the creation of contemporary art. “No man is an island” and no modern artist wants to hide in an enclosed ivory tower, narcissistically producing art for his or her own appreciation. In day-to-day life, artists breathe the same air and eat the same food as everyone else. They also need to receive knowledge and information from the era in which they exist, using that to construct and develop their own life ideas and artistic aspirations. Where artists perhaps differ from the mainstream is that they invariably observe a period of time or interpret social messages from more unusual perspectives, on the basis of an altogether different critical yardstick. In this way artists often have very different attitudes in the way they absorb and utilize knowledge, whether forward looking, avant-garde, opinionated, unreal, surreal, counter-intuitive etc
“Parallel Zones” here refers to the situation in which some artists try to control existing terms and condi`tions, in order to use their own ability and will to actively engage in the method of production for a certain existing system. The goal of this exhibition is to present and explore how artists express their interest and sensitivity towards various social phenomena through their works in this era filled with various forms of knowledge and information. The chosen artists have maintained a neutral attitude towards mainstream values; both the artists themselves and their works endeavor at examining and reviewing contemporary culture and society. Their works have stepped into the production system of contemporary culture and society with their unique artistic approaches. Moreover, they may try to show the existing or hidden problems of the system through a kind of “unheard” language mechanism. Therefore, the exhibition curator has borrowed the phrase “Pseudo Hackers’ Art” to give a general definition of these artists’ spiritual and artistic characteristics.
They Are More than Cards; They Are No Less than Arts
On the exterior wall of MOCA, you will find the work titled They Are More Than Cards; They Are No Less Than Arts by the artist Hung Yi. This project involves the pasting of 120,000 various cards donated by Fubon Bank to the outer brick wall. This has given the building, with it’s over 85 years of history, a new and beautiful façade made of plastic cards of different colors and designs. Hopefully such a work will bring to the public an entirely new feeling. During the installation period, Mr. Hung Yi also invited visitors to bring their own credit cards which they no longer use to the exhibition, so that they can take part in the on-site creation, and personally interact with the artist.
Ever since credit cards were invented in the 20th century, they have not only changed people’s consumer habits, but have also become a kind of “identification label.” Owning a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card means that you are a member of “global citizen league,” just as owning a Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Rose Card or NTU Card means you belong to those certain groups.
The inspiration and essence of Hung Yi’s work comes from his experiences with this land on which he was born and raised. Everything from his humorous experiences during his early days of running a restaurant to the religious, political and cultural phenomena found in this society and culture are all reflected in his works. This work is titled They Are More than Cards; They Are No Less Than Arts, expressing his expectation of Taiwan. He hopes that Taiwan can be a place that is joyful and where the arts possess unlimited possibilities.
Hey, Hey, Hey
Coming from Kaohsiung, Ming-tse Lee has enjoyed drawing comic books and admiring the heroes in traditional Chinese martial art novels since he was a child. He greatly enjoyed reading about the heroes in novels such as Outlaws of the Marsh and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as these heroes often sacrificed themselves in saving the lives of others. In recent years, he has extended his works from canvas oil painting to spatial arrangement; he began the series of works titled Hey, Hey, Hey in 2000, in which he uses the theatrical effects of traditional shadow puppets to imply the incident caused by Vice president Lu possibly phoning The Journalist magazine.
This work is located at the main entrance. Made of bamboo, it is a beautifully decorated stage during the day, but at night the dimmed lights shine onto the two-dimensional puppets made by the artist, which are arranged on a rotating lantern. In this work, the artist borrows the multi-point perspective found in Chinese paintings, placing multiple points onto the screen to indicate evolving time and space. When one space interacts with another, an interesting and free sense is produced. The work’s innocence, like that found in children, leaves a strong impression on viewers.
Walking into rooms 101 and 102 on the first floor, you will see the work of Ms. Hui-chiao Chen. In the past, her works mostly focused on the application of simple materials, such as soft feather and hard glass, as well as dried roses symbolizing nature, and needles symbolizing industrial civilization. Dream scenes found in people’s subconscious also often appear in her works.
In Idle Running, Hui-chiao Chen has inlaid 150 changing pictures from 50 sets into the ground. In these pictures, the viewers can see designs such as flying shadows, stars, the sun, the moon and poems. In the spiritual explanation of soul, light symbolizes the consciousness of the spirit; in the vast universe, each person has his or her own star. Before we came into our early bodies, we witnessed the development of the universe. In the world of Tarot, the sun symbolizes life, the moon insecurity, and the stars hope. However, when the artist took symbols of stars, suns and moons from the national flags of 193 countries, she found that 82 flags were from countries in Asia and Africa. It seems that most of the time through our journey of life we are in a state of nameless insecurity. We continue to look for the light of hope.
Idle Running can be an expression of idling, waste, vain or emptiness. It might even symbolize the stagnant feeling of certain dailogues or theories that cannot be put to work in our lives. Perhaps it refers to a period of blankness when we face awkward situations or the repetition or waste of certain kinds of electronics, such as the idling time before a machine accelerates. No matter what symptom this feeling tries to explain, its principle is still running. Take a dream for example. A dream is a representation of one’s subconscious, and a contradiction that this person is experiencing. It shows a dual situation that this person faces. It locks the world into the display located in our mind.
Juin-yang Lee did not get his artistic training from schools. In fact, when he graduated from junior high school, he became an apprentice car repairman. He then went to Hualian to learn how draw advertisements, paint billboards for movies and theaters, and design stages for puppet shows. While serving in the military, he gradually came to realize the fun of creating works, and began carving characters for use in puppet shows during his free time. He soon realized that this new direction possessed more room for him to explore his creativity. He not only discovered the fun of developing characters, but also gained the chance to research various puppet styles. He realized that since most traditional puppets were carved by masters of China, they possess a traditional Chinese style, but do not show any flavor of Taiwan.
As usual, Juin-yang Lee likes to use his past works as decoration. In this piece, Rainbow Temple, he focuses on his childhood memories of puppet shows, from puppet to human forms, from fortune-telling to physiognomy, from physiognomy to horoscopes, from horoscopes to the soul, and from the soul to dancing, painting, carving and leaf painting. His goal is to show the interaction of various forms of art creation. Juin-yang Lee wrote in the draft of his work, “My body is my temple.” Just like a temple, his work has included different forms of art works in the exhibition hall as well as in the hallway. The media used include painting, carving, decoration and body. In the accompanying film, the viewers can see how the artist and the audience interact with the artist’s previous works.
Onion Hsu graduated from the Sculpture Department of the former National Taiwan University of Arts, after which he went to the Milan Arts Academy for further study. Mr. Hsu has a great interest in different phenomena in society, and has tried to combine simple production methods with objects in our daily life to form new patterns or concepts. He hopes to convey a new visual experience, and is one of the few sculptors working with social themes in Taiwan.
Landscape utilizes simple objects such as plastic baskets and L-shaped plastic chairs to form a gradually awakening luminous object. The approach use plasticity and thickness of the object, and mixing of changing colors, to shape the conversion between concrete and abstract images. As the lights go through the object, they form the image of a glowing object that is gradually awakening. His work conveys a unique, stable and serene feeling of lavishness. Through a large amount of assembly, he attempts to present a stage that looks like a kaleidoscope. This is the landscape that you and I have been long waiting for.
Putaucikel a Taletalev
(Pai-wan language, Speaking Box)
During 1970s in Taiwan, Sakuliu’s father was the first person to own a TV set in his tribe. The people in his tribe called the TV a ‘speaking box.’ They were always curious about the TV, with crowds watching the box every day and night. This bothered his father very much. He therefore built a bamboo fence around his house, leaving only small entrance, which he asked Sakuliu to keep guard. If someone came, they would have to give the family a stick or a yam as the fee to watch TV. Since that day, his family was able to stop working in the fields……
The 1970s was a time when the traditional and modern crossed each other’s paths. Materialistic civilization entered the tribes, and the traditional bartering system of the aborigines was greatly challenged. Sakuliu, a descendent of the Pai-wan tribe, not only endeavored in his art, but also tried to promote the idea of building classrooms in his village for better learning their culture. The goal was to preserve the traditional skills and wisdom of their ancestors, so that they could be passed down to future generations.
This work, titled Speaking Box, stems from Sakuliu’s childhood memories. The drawings on the fence were all done by Sakuliu. So what mystery can be found in the fence of the MOCA? Are you curious to find the answer? Why not get into the spirit of bartering, and use something you have to obtain a ticket, so that you too can explore the world of Sakuliu?
Ms. Chu-ying Chen is an Associate Professor at the Arts and Technolgical Imagery Department of the Université Paris 8. In her early days, Ms. Chen learned painting from Mr. Chung-shen Lee. Before the 1990s, her works often expressed what she felt in her subconscious. She used original materials such as water ink and charcoal pencils to create sketches that were slightly surreal. She also used free, flowing, colorful lines to express the mysterious images in her mind. In her works, viewers can see how the artist feels about squirming, living organisms and her ever-changing mental images.
In the mid-1990s, Ms. Chen’s works gradually changed from canvas painting to computer graphics. The concepts in her works span the fields of art, life science and artificial life. Through the computer programs she designs, Ms. Chen converts the mysterious symbols scribbled in her sketch books into 3D images that possess their own artifical lives. They are no longer the static pictures on paper, gaining ever-changing and transforming lives on the screen. In this way, the artist has become a creator, constructing unique life forms in the world of virtual reality.
In the piece QUORUM SENSING, the computer-generated image jumps out to greet the visitor as they enter the exhibition area. The image then attaches to the footsteps of the audience. If at this time another visitor appears, a light will appear to connect these two people. The graphics on the floor will then become more and more complicated, with more and more diverse patterns and styles, forming a short artificial life. When the visitor comes closer to the space, strange noises and animal sounds also begin emanating. The participation of all visitors creates a polyphony, like a countercurrent permeating this quiet space.
This work forms a free space that stimulates the senses. The artist successfully shows the audience a fantasy world created by modern technology, in which the life form she creates gains independent and unpredictable characteristics. Although her works originate from a theory of complicated systems and the software technology of artificial life, her digital artworks bring new aesthetic experiences to viewers. The works do not show the sense of coldness that technology often brings. Instead, the images of the artificial life that she creates continue to interact with time, space and people. This design not only breaks the vocabulary of traditional images, but also reverses the role of the viewer.
Oriental Taishan / Barbie OEM County’s Postcolonial Resistance
Barbie dolls are the love of many people, but only a few know that the maiden home of Barbie is in Taishan Township of Taipei County. The Mattel plant was established in Taishan to manufacture Barbie dolls in 1967, which is where Taishan gained the nickname “the hometown of Barbie.” Due to global trends, the economic structure in Taiwan was greatly affected, with many industries moving to China due to cost concerns. After Mattel plant moved to China in 1987, Taishan was also temporarily hit, with many families facing unemployment. Moreover, these unemployed workers gradually left Taishan, resulting in the once busy roads turning into silent streets. Now, under the promotion of local cultural industries, the Taishan Doll Museum wants to revive the process of how global trends have changed the OEM experience through the remodeling of Barbie dolls. It is hoped that process will enable the people in Taishan, as well as the people of Taiwan, to better understand their own past.
This display, beginning in Room 108, and extending to the exhibition hall on the second floor, is collaboration between the Taishan Doll Museum, Geng-hao Chang and Geng-hua Chang. The artists adopted the idea of conveyor belts to bring back all the different styles of Barbie dolls that have been available over the past 20 years. We warmly invite you to bring your entire family to visit on a weekend. In the exhibition rooms you will also find volunteers from the Taishan Doll Museum, who are sewing Barbie dolls on-site. Apparently one of the volunteers is 80 years old, but the Barbie dolls he makes are truly beautiful!
In his work in Room 105, Shygong chose the controversial phenomena of betel nut beauties and teahouse culture as the theme. His goal is to change the public’s stereotypes towards art museums and artworks, while also hoping viewers can get closer to his works. Taking ideas from everyday life experiences, the artist wants to encourage viewers to rid themselves of their old ways of looking at art, and adopt a new way of thinking. He encourages viewers to experience and appreciate the beautiful, rich life energy found in Taiwan culture from a new point of view. Karaoke stages, rotating neon lights, and popular Chinese and Taiwanese songs are what the blue collar workers in Taiwan enjoy most often for entertainment.
In the plaza, the lights of the betel nut stands are accompanied by the hot dance music. Enjoying the betel nut tea developed by the studio, visitors can appreciate the audio and visual beauty of the betel nut stands. They can even freely go onto the stage to take pictures. Through the beetle nut tea, visitors can taste the unique flavor of betel nut, without the spitting and stains of chewing the nut itself. In addition, they can experience the charm of the betel nut beauties during their performance.
Shygong grew up in the US, coming back to Taiwan in 1990. At that time, he was shocked by both the turmoil and the strong life energy found in Taiwan’s society. In fact, he found himself actually deeply attracted by these qualities. He therefore began a series of works concerning national beliefs. Shygong specializes in observing small changes in society at different times, which he converts into art and action. He sharply expresses the contradictory history and social inconsistencies that the island country of Taiwan faces.