Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Powerpuffs inspire new generation

The 36th annual Taipei Arts Awards show that art is alive and kicking in the capital city

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Kuo I-chen's video Lost Contact.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI ARTS MUSEUM

Competitions for young and emerging artists are great ways to discern future trends in art and to meet the next generation of artists. The 2005 Taipei Arts Awards currently on view at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum until March 3 brings a wide range of styles together and includes painting, photography, video, digital arts and installation.

This is an annual contest held by the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with the museum. In its 36-year history its goals remain the same: to provide a forum to help develop and promote contemporary Taiwanese art.

The jury had 531 entrants this year and chose five grand prizewinners, with five honorable mentions. The art work from these 10 budding artists is now on view, in addition to several strong works from the runners-up.

The five Taipei Arts Award grand prizewinners are Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔), Tseng Wei-hao (曾偉豪), Lee Ming-hsueh (李明學), Huang Wei-min (黃薇岷) and Kuo I-chen (郭奕臣).

Upon entering the space, Chen's brightly colored wall graphic -- inspired by the cartoon imagery of the Powerpuff Girls -- jumps out. Part graffiti and part child-like wallpaper, the work merges various types of visual cultures into one entity, thus creating its own type of genre as it straddles the line between graphic design and traditional painting.

Tseng's PICSOUND is a large wall drawing with four horizontal black bands concealing speaker wires that emit sounds. By touching two bands at once with graphic pencils or bare fingers, visitors can interact with the work to create rhythms and electronic sounds. Plus it is a work that invites visitors to scribble on the white walls of a museum.

As soon as you close the door to Lee's sensory-assaulting installation titled Switches, a strobe light flashes erratically while the walls of light switches noisily click on and off. The flashing lights and deafening sounds are unbearable.

Huang displays a series of oil paintings that resemble corn on the cob. She transforms these into hypothetical space-age living pads. In one painting the kernels look like duvet covers, while in another they look like cozy beds of hay. The paintings also refer to the living structures created in one's mind.

Out of the five grand prizewinners Kuo's work stands out, for me. Gaining attention in last year's Taipei Biennial for his piece that captured the sounds and shadows of planes flying overhead, Kuo uses technology in a way that makes the viewer ask metaphysical questions.

In Lost Contact, Kuo releases a wireless camera tied to a bunch of balloons and the aerial perspective is projected down to earth as the city scene gets smaller until contact is lost.

The five Honorable Mention winners are Chou Yu-cheng (周育正), Hsu Tang-wei (許唐瑋), Kuo Chia-ling (郭嘉羚), Lin Kun-ying (林昆穎) and Huang Hsin-chien (黃心健).

Chou has a riveting video that creates a mysterious landscape of pink and green confectionary glaciers. Hsu displays a series of finely drawn acrylic paintings. Kuo Chia-ling has a video installation of showing close-ups of skin.

Lin's Vanish into Space is a sound installation where the visitor can step on a small platform, which acts as a woofer to change the sound. By sitting in the chair of Huang Hsin-chien's installation, the visitor's shadow triggers a motion sensor and transforms the video projection of a building's construction.

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