Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: ‘Digital’ artist takes public art to new level

STREET ART:Artist Huang Hsin-chien hopes his new piece, to be displayed in an MRT station, will tell passers-by the time and let them reflect on interesting images

By James Lee  /  Staff Writer, with CNA

Digital artist and National Chengchi University associate professor Huang Hsin-chien poses next to some of his artworks in Taipei on Jan. 22.

Photo: CNA

Huang Hsin-chien (黃心健) drew several squares and rectangles on a piece of paper and confidently said that the public would be able to see a “message of integration and harmony” through the artwork that will be displayed in Taipei soon.

Since June last year, the 45-year-old has been working on a large digital-art piece titled The Moment We Meet, which will be installed at an MRT station near the landmark Taipei 101 skyscraper.

The artwork is a 3m-by-3m flip clock, which comes with six other flipping devices. It is Huang’s latest project and the one that has satisfied him the most, the artist said.

To Huang, digital art is simply “using innovative ways to create something beautiful and meaningful.”

Digital art refers to any artistic work and practice created by or with computers or electronic devices, he said.

The latest artwork is expected to add some local culture to the area near Taipei 101, a popular location for residents and tourists to shop and dine.

The clock will be composed of 30 close-up shots of distinctive faces, each of which is divided into 100 squares that can flip and form different appearances. The other six devices will feature different close-up shots of body parts from nearly 200 young and elderly people in Taiwan.

“Each shot has its own story, and with meticulously arranged flip times, different combinations will form images with interesting meanings,” Huang said, explaining the public art installation plan with the excitement of a child showing off their favorite toy.

Huang said that apart from telling the time, the artwork would enable passers-by to see faces composed of images of children and the elderly, or perhaps a face of a Hakka person pitted with an Aborigine’s tattoos. When they look at the ceiling, they may see a girl’s hand holding a flower on the left in contrast to an old soldier making a fist on the right.

Huang used to design Web sites and develop video games for Sony Computer Entertainment America and SEGA Interactive Development Division after studying art and design in the US for five years. He did not change track from commercial art to fine art until 2000, when he came back to Taiwan.

“I wanted to create something deeper, something closer to my inner world,” he said of his transition.

His decision has turned out to be a successful one. He attracted almost 600,000 visitors to his popular designs at the Pavilion of Dreams during the six-month Taipei International Flora Exposition in 2010 and last year.

The pavilion, which combined new technologies, interactive installations, stories and the imagination, was one of the most popular exhibits at the expo and was reopened to the public after the show ended in April last year.

With his latest project, Huang wants to make a difference and leave unforgettable impressions on passers-by.

However, he has been facing an obstacle: There isn’t a digital camera on the market with a high enough megapixel count to make large printouts for his artwork.

Although he could piece together smaller shots, Huang said he and his photographers were still looking for a better solution.

“I’m always challenging myself and pushing instrument capabilities to the limit,” Huang said. “You can say that I encounter the choke point every day and that breakthroughs are the norm.”

“You can always make your artwork better and more sophisticated with time,” he added.

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