Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Porn is art, art is porn

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Cheang Shu-lea's iPod art at her K exhibition.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHEANG SHU-LEA

During the 1980s, artists who wanted successful art careers had no choice but to move to well-known international art centers such as Tokyo, New York or London. Cheang Shu-lea (鄭淑麗) is one such pioneer. Born in Taiwan, she became what she termed a "digital drifter," moving around the world. It wasn't until her participation in the Taipei Biennial 2000 that this prodigal daughter was warmly embraced in her native land and the local art scene seemed to finally catch up with her work. She first gained attention for her Internet-based works such as the Guggenheim-commissioned Brandon (the story of the murdered transgendered teen who was also the subject of the Hollywood film Boys Don't Cry).

Cheang is currently in Taiwan for two exhibitions: K at IT Park in Taipei and Baby Love at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung. In her work she explores Internet technology such as P2P, networks, and WiFi through a futuristic science fiction narrative.

In K, short for kilobyte, this tangible quantity is turned into currency in the "digital market of dataspace." In this project, Cheang suggests that digital memory can be bought and sold, and that human memory can be commodified, making it something like a rewritable, re-loadable system.

On one wall, seven 5th generation iPods with video loops play continuously. MILK is taken from Cheang's Web sex channel commissioned by Switzerland's 56K TV-bastard channel in 2004 (and which was eventually censored for being too sexually explicit). Four MP3 players, three installed in picture frames and one in a stack of old newspapers, are also on display.

Cheang's Baby Love project at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung, which will run to June 18, uses the latest in digital technology, taking the viewer into the fantasy realm of cyborg science fiction. Basing her idea on Ryu Murakami's novel Coin Locker Babies, Cheang's scenario happens in 2030 when biotic babies cloned in Tokyo train stations become the receptacles for human memory and emotions.

On Saturday, the 11 year-old Bamboo Curtain Studio specializing in ceramics reopens after renovations. It is now open to artists, not only ceramicists and sculptors, but also those working in the digital genre who are looking for short-term studio space to create new works. Currently, the Sun Son Theater led by director Ng Chong-leong is in residence. (www.sunsontheater.com.tw)

The Studio encourages any artists who can make use of its natural environment along the Tamshui River to inspire art work that nourishes the inner spirit to apply for a short-term residency. In addition to applicant artists, the studio is also seeking volunteers to help out for various projects.

What: Cheang Shu-lea's K

Where: IT Park, 2-3 F, 41 Yitong St, Taipei (台北市伊通街41號2-3摟)

Telephone: (02) 2507-7243

When: Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm to 10pm, until June 24

What: Cheang Shu-lea's Baby Love

Where: The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2 Wuchuan W Rd Sec 1, Taichung (台中市西區五權西路一段2號)

Telephone: (04) 2372-3552

When: Through June 18

What: Call for artist applicants

Where: Bamboo Curtain Studio (竹圍工作室), 36, Ln 88, Chungcheng E Rd Sec 2, Tamsui, Taipei County (台北縣淡水鎮中正東路二段8836)

Telephone: (02) 2808-1465

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