Taiwanese sound and light artist Yao Chung-Han creates an electronic monster at Taipei Gallery Project Fulfill.
Art Radar talks to Yao Chung-Han about his new works and takes a look at the exhibition at Taipei’s Project Fulfill Art Space.
“An Electronic Monster” consists of three new artworks by Yao Chung-Han – LLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance), Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling, and Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour – created especially for Taipei gallery Project Fulfill Art Space. Much of his work transforms flickering lights of fluorescent light tubes and sound of light starters into sensuous and poetic experiences in defined space. Everyday objects are set to trigger bodily senses through colliding visual and audio experiences. Yao Chung-Han often creates integrated sound and space installations, and many works include an element of live performance.
Lasers, Lamps and Music
That is the case with LLLP (2017) – a new performance installation that incorporates electric current noise and electronic music. The artwork forges a relationship between processes of experimentation and failure in art practice and error in the production of electronic music. LLLP is displayed as an installation in process – a container and a theatre set for the artist who is regularly rehearsing onsite in a demonstration of the art-making process. After a series of experiments and work in progress rehearsals open to the public, the artist will perform a culmination of these experiments as a final performance on 19 August 2017.
In his practice, Yao Chung-Han is often interested in finding new ways for the spectator to feel and experience space, finding ways to test the segmentation of the senses. Yao Chung-Han’s installations are motivated by the desire to re-route and recodify the senses through testing modes of recognition of light, sound and vibration. Talking to Art Radar about the relationship between the performance and exhibition elements, the artist stated:
The work is simply something that is live, if we don’t think so seriously about if this is music or is this sound, or is this hearing. When it is something that is simply happening live, what form would it become? When this work was installed it allows the audience to hear and see the relationship between light and sound in a simple way. During the performance I think it is still developing, in the end what form it will become has not yet been fully realized
LLLP is a continuation of the LLSP and LLAP series created between 2008 and 2015 respectively. LLSP, first performed in 2008 is, as the title suggests, a Laser, Lamps and Sound Performance. The work explores the sensory experience of anxiety as a physical condition constituted by symptoms that appear in the body and can be, according to the artist, reconfigured or controlled. The work explores the notion of sensorial coding as the artist asks, “How can we write a code to command the body?” Yao writes about the technical aspects of LLSP on his website:
Fingering with a green laser light, when touching the laser, the fluorescent lamps all lighten up and also the sounds are triggered. This is how I play an instrument, which is created on my own. I place some devices like microphones around the fluorescent lamps and then amplify the tiny noises from switching on of lamps and input the noises into my computer. Laser lights are projected 170 cm long and I use sensors to judge the position of my hands to control tuning up or down on this 170 cm long green laser light.
In LLAP (which is both an installation and a performance) Yao Chung-Han swaps out lamps for electronic music with the aim of, as his website explains,
creating a broader discussion on the essence of hearing, which is not limited to the classification of sonic, sound and music.
Talking to Art Radar about the changes between the distinct versions of the work, Yao stated:
The earliest was LLSP, which stands for Laser Lamp Sound Performance. Later in 2015 there was LLAP, where I changed ‘sound’ into ‘audio’. The latest work is LLLP where I defined the ‘L’ as ‘live performance’.
Like the “LLLP” series, “Electronic Monster” is the continuation of another series of installations that rather explore the relationship between scale and physical perception of space and use the movement of light (as opposed to sound or LEDs) as a main technique. The first instance of the work, entitled Electronic Monster #1 – Bridge, was shown on a bicycle bridge in Yue Jin Harbor during the Yue Jin Lantern Festival in Yanshuei, Tainan. The current exhibition presents two new instances of this work.
Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling has been installed towards the edge of the highest part of the ceiling of the gallery, and is in this sense a site-specific work. It consists of a stream of light that is turned on and off repeatedly, creating a sense of movement and speed that leads the audience to redefine their perception of the space, shifting their core attention to their bodies. Talking about the use of flood lights in this work, the artist commented to Art Radar:
The reason I wanted to use floodlights for the installation is that they are frequently used outside architectural buildings to illuminate the outer walls, so they are suitable for thinking about a wide area or spatial concepts. I think it may be because of my background, so my later works easily include spatial ideas in their creative process. Perhaps in comparison with my peers, my works are not the type in which you hang or place on the wall, they naturally consider the use of spatial forms. So by installing flood lights onto parts of the building’s architecture, letting light and space generate a relationship, you could say that up until now, especially this time I wanted to try this out, so I chose to use floodlights designed for architectural buildings.
Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour, on the other hand, is associated with notions of time and reality. The work combines real time mechanical sounds and music produced by the artist. A mechanical smoke machine has been rigged to trigger every hour, filling the space and creating an image of a beast that changes in scale – an experience designed by the artist to draw attention to architectural framing that holds the image. Yao Chung-Han reflects on the use of smoke in this work to Art Radar, stating:
Perhaps my works have more of a physicality, when smoke quickly fills the space, and then opening the door and allowing the smoke to flow out onto the street, I think this is a very direct feeling, this scene is quite beautiful, and it is likely that encounters may happen. For example we would be worried whether the neighbours would call the police, would anyone be concerned that a fire broke out? I think works that encounter a sense of reality is quite important for me.
Asked about the story behind the series title, the artist commented:
There are several reasons behind the name “An Electronic Monster”, firstly there is the concept of ‘light and electricity’; in the past my works are created using a lot of sound and light. Whereas the word ‘monster’, there is the possibility of development; when I saw my child playing with some toys, I thought back to when I played with toys as a child, I would easily take what was a new toy and play with it until it broke. I would then take the individual parts and turn them into a new toy, maybe it would just be a single wheel, and I would imagine it was a new airplane, even lighter and more easily carried around with me everywhere. When I recalled this I discovered my works have some similarities. I would take an object and find a different state, after which I would redefine that object and what kind of state or form it should have.
For example, the way in which the fluorescent lights are controlled has this kind of relation, I spent a lot of time controlling the light, and I wanted to achieve a flow of light that looked like it had a strong life force. So I imagined a kind of living organism and I thought about a few words, in the end I decided to use ‘monster’. I think it has a wide space for definition, it can be something ferocious or something tame, I think its form still has a lot of room to develop, so I thought of the name An Electronic Monster.
Both the “Electronic Monster” and “LLLP” series are examples of an “auditory experience”, constituted by both a performance or choreography and modifications to the architectural space or environment. This is a mode of working that the artist has repeatedly returned to throughout his decade long career, perhaps for the way in which it offers opportunities to bring together and thus rupture the exhibition, performance and sound formats.
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