Human beings determine their reality through sight and language. Through seeing we verify our existence in the real world; through language, we interpret all the perceivable and non-perceivable realities.
Seeing is receiving external information directly through our eyes. It is the most primitive way we make sense of the world. Each person has a unique way of seeing things. People at different positions see from a different angle, and we form different viewpoints because our life, educational background and stance differ. The experience of seeing contributes to our understanding of the world. Meanwhile, we use language to interpret the world as we understand it—a world built with intertwining knowledge and rules. It is real but different from what is perceived through our senses. We exist both in the understood realities and the seen realities, which sometimes converge and sometimes drift apart. Sometimes, there is an unbridgeable gap in between them.
Artists discover and create realities by making art, and perhaps the gap between the seen and the understood is what their works attempt to convey. The pieces in this exhibition are of the past, the present and the future perceived by seven Taiwanese artists, reflecting their way of seeing, conceptualizing, and imagining in an era of globalization and a time where medium is message. The various ways of viewing and understanding our world is the foundation for exploring reality.
Regarding Taiwan’s history and current cultural environment, HOU I-Ting explores our unfamiliarity with the cultures of our own country in a time when global cultures blend together. She puts herself—in an embroidered costume from a Western painting—against a backdrop that is representative of Taiwan’s traditional, local life or of its culture and history. Rather than being diachronically and culturally significant, the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western cultures and the artist herself highlight people’s disconnection with local cultures as well as the transplantation and blending of cultures under globalization. The works look into the estranged feeling we have toward our own cultures and the issue of self-identity.
TU Pei-Shih’s computer stop-motion animation shows the potential threats and influences from political, economic and other social realities in contemporary life as well as fantasies inspired by them. The pieces illustrate how, living in a time of globalization and post-capitalism, one could ignore the surrounding realities. TU points out the mix of cultures and contexts in our life while creating collages of readymade images that are assorted visual symbols of diverse cultures. In her works, she reflects on stereotypes about certain images and builds an alternative reality of a “wonderful” world.
CHEN Qing-Yao’s work is a parody of the explorers in Discovery-like channels, and of the Western media’s way of seeing things. In this parodic exploration of Taiwanese folk cultures, he dresses himself up like an explorer in a travel/adventure show to make a direct statement on the exoticizing way of seeing, point out how people living in today’s mass media culture may fail to see that they have passively accepted the media’s perception of reality.
YEH Yi-Li’s pieces are reconstructed memories of perception. Combining blue-and-white pottery with toy blocks, the sculptures—a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures—depict and add a sense of unreality to memories. As patterns commonly found on traditional objects from the East clash with a popular object from the West, a new type of object is created. Its existence interprets the cultural hybridity born out of a heterogeneous contemporary society and continuously reconstructs what we understand as real.
The seen reality may not be the reality. LIAO Yu-An watches the tense and delicate daily interactions between city dwellers and puts it in his work, creating a subtle, almost paranoid metaphor. He tries to capture urbanites’ most private thoughts under life’s complicated pressures and anxieties—in the form of wild imaginations or behaviors disconnected from reality. The physical interactions between characters in his works are a metaphor for the suspicious feelings of helplessness between people, laying bare the most real interpersonal relationships.
The archeology sites in CHANG Teng-Yuan’s series of works come from his observation of popular cultures and environments in our time. Imaginative yet realistic, the art pieces humorously show Earth in the future from the perspective of a group of parrot men—fictional characters in CHANG’s series. Illustrating future archeological discoveries stemming from present-day realities, the pieces are logically fictitious and thus realistically imaginative.
Looking into our usual way of seeing, YUAN Goang-Ming’s works are like an image experiment about the shooting, the objects being shot, and the viewers. A potential, new perceived reality is formed as the pieces reverse the relationship between objects, spaces, and viewers, making the viewers look out of the visual box and rethink about their visual perception models and the spatial relationships created by images to form new, potential realities for seeing.
Artists explore perception and create a visual world, while others produce meanings through seeing. By comparing our understanding with the points of view in artworks, we as viewers read cultural influences on ourselves and/or others, and examine how we and/or others exoticize cultures. We watch contemporary human interactions and reverse our habitual way of seeing. Our perception is decided by where we are; a different position means a different point of view. It is hoped that through this exhibition, the artwork can change your perspective and offer a different way of seeing things and the various realities in contemporary life.