Photos by Asia Morris.
Beyond the Frame: New Media Arts From Taiwan is a playful exhibit where each of the eight works give Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) goers a chance to experiment with sound, movement, time and space. Six Taiwanese artists, Daniel Lee, Shyu Ruey-Shiann, Lin Jiun-Ting, Tseng Wei-Hao and Yao Chung-Han present a functioning clash between ancient tradition and today’s technologies, and some a clash between the two elements plus the viewer’s interaction with the work.
“Computer technology has had a significant impact on all aspects of life,” stated the exhibition introduction. “Art is no exception.”
Perhaps the reverse interpretation of this statement, where life influences technology, is best displayed by Lin Jiun-Ting’s Spirit of Flower-Brilliant Colors, an interactive video installation where the viewer brings a wall-sized projection of the traditionally coveted Chinese Peony to full bloom with their presence. The more museum goers who enter the room, the more flowers come to life in video, opening as guests enter and closing back to their bud form as the room empties. Digital butterflies flit across the screen as the viewer might wonder, ‘Did I cause that?’
“It depends on how many people walk into the room,” Curator Josiane Lih-Huei Lai told the Long Beach Post. “If you have three people, three flowers might bloom. The flower is actually the most elegant, exquisite flower in Chinese [culture].”
Yao Chung-Han, DzDz, 2015. LED, fluorescent lamps, speaker, electronic devices, computer.
Or artist Yao Chung-Han’s DzDz , where the viewer has to step up onto a stage lit by rhythmically pulsing fluorescent lamps, to activate different sounds and levels of brightness with their movements. Without human interaction, DzDz puts out a haunting beat like a metronome, as if waiting to be disturbed. It’s nearly as exciting to watch others react to the work, as each person becomes a part of the installation as they discover how to activate it.
Perhaps the interactive installations invite you to learn a little about your own personality, say, whether or not you interact well with the work alongside the date you may be attempting to impress with a visit to the LBMA. Are you a go-getter? Do you step up on DzDz’s stage without the approval of the nearby docent or do you wait and watch as others take their first steps into the unknown? Are you elated with the chance to create sounds with your hands, as you run your palm across artist Tseng Wei-Hao’s Maze-Black? Do you enjoy the puzzle as you figure out how to make the each sound or grow increasingly frustrated with the experiment?
Artist Tseng Wei-Hao experimenting with his work, Maze-Black, 2013, made with carbon ink, speaker, an amplifier and a wood box.
Not only do opportunities for self-discovery await the open-minded, but as intended, insights into facets of Taiwanese culture influenced by Western technology are there to be seen. Those with patience are rewarded while waiting to detect the barely noticeable rotation of Wu Chi-Tsung’s projector-like wheel in Wire II, where an uncanny combination of mesh wire, light and a lens project onto the wall a constantly changing image that seems hand painted or drawn.
“The main idea is to [project] an image that looks very much like a Chinese landscape, a very abstract or a very poetic image[...]” said Chi-Tsung. “I tried many, many materials, and I found this one so interesting because you almost cannot connect this material [with] the image, which showed the best of my idea.”
Wu Chi-Tsung, Wire II, 2003. Metal, glass, acrylic.
Chi-Tsung also likens the projector wheel’s half-hour rotation to reading a Chinese scroll when laid out on a table they’re often so long the reader can only view small segments of the writing at a time, just as how the viewer can only see a projection of one small part of the wheel at a time. He also added that Wire II is very much a commentary on how the media shapes our view of the world, where what is understood through certain images rarely involves all of its surrounding context.
“Whether visibly apparent or subtly embedded, Eastern philosophy and abstract concepts within the artwork challenge the possibilities of the medium used and span the boundaries between traditional and modern, between East and West,” stated the release.
“The Museum has had a long history presenting cutting edge technology used by artists and Beyond the Frame continues in that tradition,” stated Executive Director Ron Nelson. “We know everyone will be enthralled by these unique installations.”
Shyu Ruey-Shiann, Eight Drunken Immortals (detail), 2012. Metal, wheels, steel, wire, ink, censors, transformers.
Beyond the Frame: New Media Arts From Taiwan, organized by the Taiwan Academy, Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Los Angeles and curated by Josiane Lih-Huei Lai, will be on view at the LBMA through Sunday, May 29. For more information, please visit the website here.