Mon, May 14, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Local artist marks boat sinking with modern twist

Staff writer, with CNA

Eco-artist Vincent Huang’s iTitanic, made from smartphones and tablet computers, is placed among coral in an aquarium, expressing the artist’s concern about climate change.

Photo: CNA

A Taiwanese artist has created a contemporary iTitanic using modern gadgets to warn people about the consequences of blindly pursuing technology and modernization.

The work, on display at an exhibition in Taipei, is just one of a series of events around the globe marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Eco-artist Vincent Huang (黃瑞芳) used 15 iPhones, HTC smartphones and iPads and several circuit boards to create a replica of the Titanic.

Originally hailed as an unsinkable liner, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, just four days into its maiden voyage from England to New York.

While the Titanic symbolized the peak of technological development at the time of its launch, the iceberg represented nature’s fury, Huang said in a recent interview.

“This is similar to today’s society, where people are crazy about high-tech products, such as iPhones, iPads and HTC devices,” he said, explaining that the first letter in iTitanic refers to such advanced devices.

Huang’s iTitanic is part of an enclosed live marine ecosystem set up in an aquarium tank, which also includes several colorful corals and other sea creatures.

“The live marine system is just like Earth, which has finite resources,” the 41-year-old artist said. “Consuming the resources in the tank, the coral symbolizes humanity.”

The “Unsinkable iTitanic” exhibition opened on April 17 at an artistic center in Neihu District (內湖), part of which is still under construction, and the iTitanic will remain there for two years.

Visitors will be able to return in 2014 and see how the ecosystem has fared, with the result offering a possible scenario for what could happen to the planet and its inhabitants, Huang said.

“Are we heading toward a better future or are we a speeding train, heading toward devastation?” asked Huang, who has devoted himself to eco-art for about 10 years.

Asked why he used coral in his work, Huang said the state of marine ecosystems has become a focal issue in recent years, especially because of the way in which marine life is being affected by global warming.

Huang said the rising temperatures of the Earth’s oceans could threaten the survival of coral, which lives in waters ranging in temperature from 23oC to 28oC and he hoped his work would draw more attention to the issue.

The iTitanic is not Huang’s first attempt at featuring a marine ecosystem in his work. Last year, he created an exhibit that included coral and a number of iconic landmarks from different countries.

Replicas of Taipei 101, Big Ben in London and the Empire State Building in New York, among others, were placed in an aquarium tank to symbolize how climate change leads to rising sea levels.

The work was shown in Sydney last year and was well received.

For his next project, Huang is planning a concept that features luxury goods in a marine ecosystem to satirize society’s current obsession with expensive products, the artist said.

“To complete the project, I need volunteers to donate their Louis Vuitton handbags,” Huang added.

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