An exhibition of young and emerging new media artists from Taiwan tours the world.
“Schizophrenia Taiwan 2.0”, an exhibition of new media art from Taiwan, has been shown in important international new media art events in Europe since 2013. Showcasing the work of young and emerging artists, the exhibition will be touring the United States, Canada, Argentina and Brazil until 2015.
“Schizophrenia Taiwan 2.0” is an exhibition of young and emerging new media artists from Taiwan. Initiated in 2013, the show is curated by an international team of four independent curators based in Taiwan, France and Germany, including
- I-Wei Li, Artistic Director of SideBySide Studio e.V.
- Chin-Wen Chang, art critic and Assistant Professor in National HsinChu University of Education
- Chien-Hung Huang, Film, contemporary art and performance art critic, and Associate Professor of Taipei National University of Arts, Institute of Trans-disciplinary Art
- Pierre Bongiovanni, Artistic Director of La Maison Laurentine, Managing Director of D’abord les forêts festival, art critic, filmmaker and producer
The exhibition is produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China, the Association of the Visual Arts in Taiwan (AVAT), SidebySide Studio e.V. and La Maison Laurentine. The show has already been part of Ars Electronica 2013 (Linz, Austria), Cyberfest, Transmediale 2014 (Berlin), Las Maison des Metallos, Ambika P3 and Instants Videos.
Taiwan’s historical microcosm
Called the “beautiful island” by Portuguese sailors in the past, Taiwan has been at the centre of florid cultural exchanges for centuries, having been colonised successively by the Dutch, the Japanese and the Chinese. As the curators point out, Taiwan is the home of opposites: advanced technology runs side by side with traditional culture, the Chinese live together with 17 Austronesian tribes, democracy and corruption coexist, and the small country is an economic powerhouse for the global high-tech industry.
Being at once part of the world and apart from it, the curators describe Taiwan as “a satellite” that “observes, orbits and transmits messages to the rest of the world.” These messages, they say, coincide with the challenges and potential of globalisation and cybernetics.
What is “Taiwan’s Schizophrenia”?
“Taiwan’s Schizophrenia” describes the tension in daily life that results from the conflict between Taiwan’s strong sense of national identity and its ambivalent national status in relation to China. The curators claim that “schizophrenia” manifests itself even in the country’s own name, Tai (台 – platform) and Wan (灣 – coastal):
Taiwan is at once the center (the platform, the node) and the periphery (the coast, the entrance), the flow (technology) and inheritance (tradition), the East and the West, the inside and outside (of China).
The exhibition tackles exactly these dynamic dualities and contradictions inherent in Taiwan’s socio-cultural, economic and political context. “Schizophrenia 2.0” also sketches the concept of the “Taiwan machine”, based on Heiner Müller’s postmodernist drama Hamlet Machine (1997), in which technology revolutionises the world by breaking down the traditional narrative structure and placing media at the centre of the economy. For Müller, machinery is a universal and permanent revolution and is ultimately omnipresent.
The curators say about the exhibition:
“Schizophrenia Taiwan 2.0″ focuses in on this digital revolution in the work of young Taiwanese new media artists, born between the eras of color television and smart phones in a country that manufactures 80 percent of the world’s electronic goods. These artists are fully aware of the risks and of the potential of globalisation and cybernetics and their works reflect the challenges facing Taiwan and the world as a whole.
The fourteen artists in the exhibition are:
- Li-Ren Chang (張立人 – b. 1983, Taichung)
- Liang-Hsuan Chen (陳亮璇 – b. 1985, Taipei)
- Wan-Jen Chen (陳萬仁 – b. 1982, Hsinchu)
- Yi-Chun Chen (陳依純 – b.1980, Nan-Tou)
- Yi-Ya Chen (陳逸雅 – b. 1989, Ping-Tong)
- Chao-Tsai Chiu (邱昭財 – b. 1977, Miaoli)
- Yen-Yin Huang (黃彥穎 – b. 1981, Ping-Tong)
- Yen-Ju Lin (林晏竹 – b. 1989, Taichung)
- Yu-hsien Su (蘇育賢 – b. 1982, Tainan)
- Yu-Chin Tseng (曾御欽 – b. 1978, Taiwan)
- Pei-Shi Tu (杜珮詩 – b. 1981, Maioli)
- Guang-Ming Yuan (袁廣鳴 – b. 1965, Taipei)
- Jun-Chieh Wang (王俊傑 – b. 1963, Taipei)
- Chi-Yu Wu (吳其育 – b. 1986, Taipei)
Taiwan’s new media artists: A closer look
Wan-Jen Chen’s The Unconscious Voyage (2008) video portrays an incessant flow of people walking in two opposite directions, under gloomy cloudy skies. There is an absence of a perspective of time and space, the movement of pedestrians like ghosts pacing endlessly. There is a sort of anxiety behind the seemingly ordered, purposeful pacing. “People can only assure their own being by non-stop advancing,” says the artist.
Yi-Chun Chen’s video Good Bye, Little Factory (2012) pans slowly left over a series of mechanical machinery, accompanied by intermittent lullaby-like music and subdued machine-humming. The slow relentless movement of the machines dragging sluggishly forward is a metaphor for Taiwan’s standing in the global economy.
Taiwan has been fading out from the global OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) economy, and Taiwanese family homes are no longer assembly lines for foreign brands. “The shift from political colonisation to capitalist colonisation is deeply embedded in Taiwan’s history and OEM became not only the general economic status of Taiwan, but also a metaphor of the entire society,” say the curators.
Yen-Yin Huang’s Go of Africa (2008) presents a moving view of a cloudless sky, with floating kite-like formations that look like splashes of orange-yellow paint and flying aircrafts. The video highlights the main motif in Huang’s art: transformation.
The artist wants to escape from the over-saturated messages about the international art world and social issues in Taiwan. He chooses instead to transform his identity into shattered relationships, creating a profound sensibility to the dense network of exchange in an increasingly globalised world.
Pei-Shi Tu’s video animation The Adventures in Mountain Yu No. 5 – From Michel Foucault to Our Glorious Future (2011) portrays scenes of life that mix the various populations that have inhabited Taiwan for centuries. Dutch, Japanese and Chinese colonisers coexist with locals.
Tu depicts how Taiwan’s people have been shaped into the “ideal population” by every colonising regime, through disciplining their bodies and ideologies. Behind the colourful flat imagery lies Tu’s critic of lost history during the fabrication of a national identity and a national and political propaganda.
Chi-Yu Wu’s The Nuclear Power Plant and The Dog (2011) delves directly into a criticism of Taiwan’s nuclear energy policy. Throughout the video, an intimately guided documentary investigation that walks the viewer through the exploration of sites the artist slowly narrates the story behind the reason why every nuclear power plant in Taiwan is now fused with a temple of the 18th King, a giant Godzilla-like black dog.
The nuclear plant releases poisonous waters into the sea, killing fish and as a result killing the dogs that eat the fish, in a vicious never-ending circle. The “straying view” of the camera reflects the uncertain response between the lethargic government and the anxious public.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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- Science, technology and visual art: Artists in a hybrid world – November 2013 – “TEA/Super Connect–2013 International Techno Art Exhibition” brought together international artists working with biology, medicine, computer science and robotics to create their works
- “It’s my most complex work yet”: Conceptual artist Lee Mingwei on his installation “Luminous Depths” – interview – October 2013 – Taiwanese conceptual artist Lee Mingwei talks to Art Radar about why his most recent installation is the most complex and representative work of his career
- Taiwan’s “Floating Islands” and the politics of art – September 2013 – as part of the Shanghai Biennale Zhongshan Park Project, the exhibition brought together Chinese and Taiwanese artists to confront political issues with art
- Beyond Taiwan’s horizons: Taiwanese contemporary art in the US – August 2013 – “Horizon Realm: Contemporary Art from Taiwan” in New York City is an opportunity to build the foundations for more Taiwanese contemporary art shows in the US in the future
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