Thu, Nov 24, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Techno-artists show off their hardware


Wu Tien-chang's Contemporary Occult, Digital Magic digital photo


Technologically-based art is the latest rage in Taiwan. As a result the National Culture and Arts Foundation created the Techno Art Creation Project with the six winners for this first year's award currently exhibiting their diverse artworks in Vision and Beyond at the Hong-gah Museum.

Lin Shu-min's (林書民) Inner Force involves two participants wired to a machine that monitors their alpha brain waves. They can also engage in a type of meditation competition. Sitting across from each other, the calmer person often projects a more aesthetically pleasing image of a lotus blossom opening on the floor projection between them.

Wu Tien-chang (吳天章) is one of the few artists who has been able to make the successful jump from traditional painting to digital art. In Contemporary Art, Digital Magic he sardonically weds local folk culture with contemporary art.

The printed text of a traditional love spell -- which one would only resort to if depressed, desperate or completely mad -- is displayed next to a digitally enhanced studio portrait of garish figures.

Interactivity is also a recent phenomenon in Taiwan's art scene as many exhibitions promote such art. It is easily achieved by electronic means, just as motion or a light sensor can trip a video to play. Ultimately though, interactivity can be a rather shallow experience as it there is not so much give and take, but an experience rather akin to turning on a light switch.

Some of the interactive works on view include Lu Kai-tzu's (呂凱慈) puppet theater. Pick up a traditional Chinese puppet and your filmed image is shown on the adjacent video screen. Sitting on a chair in Huang Hsin-chien's (黃心健) installation allows you to construct a building on the video screen. As you move your body around, the building blocks shift too.

Wang Jun-jieh's (王俊傑) interactive piece unfortunately takes away from the powerful resonance of his images. Three video projectors are triggered by motion sensors, so if alone, seeing the work can be a frustrating experience as you can only see one of the projections play, rather than all three.

And these beautifully filmed images are riveting, giving a glimpse of a film noir-like narrative.

A man's cuffed hand slowly reaches for a door handle. A gun explodes in a puff of smoke. A dark red pool of blood deepens. A fruit stand of oranges glow with an inner light like alien creatures.

Sound artist Tsai Anchih's (蔡安智) installation is probably the most low-tech looking work of technological art; though the concept seems more convincing and thought-out. It is basically a paean to the island of Taiwan. The room is covered with brown denim, twigs, snapshots of insects, birds, scenic fishing villages and Taiwan-based recordings that took her two years to collect.

In spite of its title implying that there is a beyond, none of the works with the exception of Lin's brain-wave driven work give a glimpse of visionary divination of the uses of technology for the future.

But perhaps that is the problem with technology. All these gadgets and computer programs seem to promise endless possibilities but in reality, can they deliver as much as a pencil can? In other words, these are just tools, the means by which we can deliver a great idea.

Exhibition notes:

What: Vision and Beyond

Where: Hong-gah Museum, 5F, 260, Dayeh Road, Qiyen MRT stop 台北市北大業路2605), call (02)28942272

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