An anti-nuclear flash mob organized by film director Ko I-chen (柯一正) last year in front of the Presidential Office has given rise to a wave of opposition to nuclear power in the nation’s artistic industry, though most people are probably unaware that the idea for the protest originated during an otherwise casual chat.
On May 28 last year, Ko and several other directors staged a flash-mob event on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, during which about 60 people formed the Chinese character ren (人, human being) for 30 seconds while shouting: “I am a human being, I oppose nuclear power.”
The idea for the performance came about one day last year when Ko and fellow film director Wu Yi-feng (吳乙峰) were discussing the anti-nuclear movement on their way to a golf course.
“Because neither of us are experienced in writing slogans or delivering rousing speeches, we thought that performance art might be the best way for us to express our anti-nuclear stance,” Ko said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) last month, adding that the pair were so engrossed in their conversation that they managed to take a wrong turn on the way to the golf course.
After exchanging a number of ideas, Ko said they settled on two possible scenarios for their protest: Either they stage a flash mob, or instead they would lay on the ground in front of the Presidential Office until they were carried away by police.
“Although the second option would guarantee more public and media attention, we decided to opt for the former as our main objective was to voice our opposition to nuclear power, not ignite a war,” Ko said.
To ensure a well-choreographed, uninterrupted performance, Ko had to draw on his experience as a producer and dispatched a number of his staff members to inspect the surroundings of the Presidential Office.
The exact area in which the participants should gather, ways to redirect traffic on Ketagalan Boulevard and a means of recording the performance were elements that needed to be thoroughly mapped out in advance, Ko said, adding that the performance was rehearsed more than a dozen times at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall before being staged in public.
In addition to making detailed plans concerning the number of participants and the flash mob’s formation, Ko also had to keep the event off of the media’s radar until the day of the performance to avoid any unwanted attention.
“When the final day came, each of us was fairly nervous. Fortunately, most of the participating film directors were natural-born actors and they successfully blended in with the crowds on Ketagalan Boulevard by pretending to be either passersby out for a walk, or groups of friends chatting,” Ko said.
At the prearranged time, which coincided with the changing of the traffic signals, all of the participants assembled and formed the character ren, Ko said, adding that one participant nearly missed the performance because he was too preoccupied with talking to others on a walkie-talkie.
Following the conclusion of the performance, Ko asked three film editors to edit video recordings of the flash-mob performance and upload them to his Facebook page in the afternoon.
“After we uploaded the videos, they were followed by an influx of Facebook ‘likes,’ a fervent response that we were truly glad to see,” Ko said.