July 1, 3002. The first wave of space migrants arrives on planet Cullinan+ via the starship Argo Type V, four-and-half years after blasting off from a dying Earth.
Though similar in appearance to the colonists’ home planet as seen from millions of light years away, the new world turns out to be bleak, desert-like and frozen. Facing perpetual darkness and solitude, the immigrants document their struggles to survive with paintings, diaries, photographs and video images.
Later, at an unspecified time in the even more distant future, these records are unearthed, studied and exhibited by archeologists as the records of humankind’s first migration to outer space.
This is the theme of an exhibit currently on display at the IT Park (伊通公園).
The Final: Cullinan+ is the last installment of the Microbiology Association (MA) series first developed by Wang Jun-jieh (王俊傑) in 2000. Noted for his playful parodies on consumerism during the 1990s in his FOCL (For Our Consumer Loving) series, in which he adopted gimmicks used by real advertisers to sell fictitious products, the artist has now turned to generic sci-fi literature for his latest ambitious project.
“I feel that in the cyber era, the challenges human beings face are no longer related to the mechanisms that perpetually generate and multiply desires, but something completely different,” Wang said.
Accordingly, Wang’s virtual reality has expanded from the commercial company in FOCL to the multinational research institute in Cullinan+ led by the fictitious Dr Z, who tries to save Earth from destruction but fails miserably. The future of humankind is bleak in Wang’s myth, as we, highly dependent on technology, are condemned to existential uncertainty and regress to a primitive state of living.
WHAT: David Project III: David’s Paradise (大衛計畫第三部:大衛天堂)
WHERE: Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館), 181, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市中山北路三段181號)
WHEN: Until Nov. 16
DETAILS: Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9:30am to 5:30pm; Saturdays until 8:30pm. Tel: (02) 2595-7656.
ON THE NET: www.tfam.museum
Possibly more intriguing than the post-apocalyptic setting is Wang’s skill in making his imaginary institute appear real through a series of artifacts such as logos, Web sites, graphic designs, architectural models, advertisements, brochures, consumer products and even its own history and archaeology, which have already been shown at more than five exhibitions.
“The subject I have tackled with my works since 1990s is about a state ... in between illusion and reality. I think the biggest problem [contemporary humans] face is that we can’t tell what is real and unreal in the environment we live in,” Wang said.
Taking a more inward and philosophical look into this quandary is another solo exhibition by Wang titled David Project III: David’s Paradise, currently on display at Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館). David Project III presents the artist’s musings on people’s ambiguous relations with other people and environments after a friend has passed away.
Composed of five screens showing synchronous video images played in a loop, the video installation shows a man, sometimes real and other times semi-translucent like a phantom, walking across a lawn, into a living room, then a study, a bathroom and a bedroom, and out to the lawn again. Among these everyday settings, a floating vase, television and chair exude an illusionary quality, expressing the artist’s idea that our lives are fragmented by reality, memories, fantasies, desires and fear.
A 12-second time lapse between each image further disrupts the visitor’s perception of the projected space, with the aim of allowing the visitors themselves to project their own memories, experiences and meditations into the experience of the installation and so enter a mental state similar to that of a trance.