Curatorial Discourse

The Industrial Revolution drastically transformed the human-nature relationship. Humans began large scale production and consumption. As material civilization has swept across the globe, the human race gradually drifts apart from the natural environment. We seem to have been habituated to dwelling in the concrete cities—a more and more artificial world we build. However, natural disasters have begun to plague humankind in the recent ever-changing two to three decades as man continues recklessly destroying the natural habitats in the name of development. Like a boiled frog, we are prone to accept death by thousand little cuts. Facing all kinds of natural disasters, humans passively waiting for any new solution as we are subdued by different political forces.

The Soviet director, Andrei Tarkovsky’s science fiction masterpiece, Solaris, had an environment subtheme. The film opens with scenes of a very “earthly” home when the protagonist spends his last day on Earth before departing for the space station, setting up a pronounced terrestrial nature which withdraws from the Earth/earth. The protagonist experiences a lot of transcendental phenomena, signifying that there is enigmatic energy present in the space as well as that there is a paradox lying between human reason and passion for life. The film interrogates the philosophies of humanity being away from nature (conceptually and physically).

“Sleeping in Daytime”—Liu hsiao-hui’s work of video art—asks participants to sleep under all the conditions which are unusual when it comes to falling asleep: they have to sleep in an environment surrounded by both natural and industrial settings during daytime. This setting resembles those global disasters we encounter nowadays: we are interrupted by a lot of environmental elements and exposed to a world with no way to escape. Under these conditions, the state of sleeping has transformed itself from something that humans need when we rest to something that makes us anxious. Besides, as the world after humans fall asleep without any consciousness is unknown and unpredictable, the work of Liu also reflects the fear which resides in an individual’s innermost part of their soul as well as our fragility when being exposed to the natural environment.

Executing a bizarre task in her video artwork, Liu uses waves, flour, seeds, etc as materials to create lines that metaphorically represent protection against these peculiarly fragile moments of humankind. However, the actions are fruitless. Being at the borderline state between the ocean and the land, waves, concrete tetrapods, abandoned bridges, fishing boats, airplanes, beach buggies, etc become gigantic obstructions that block an individual’s will to protect the natural environment from decaying and decreasing. Though meager as it seems, Liu’s actions reveal her determination to carry out this kind of will from the bottom of her heart.

This online exhibition of environmental video art reflects a true situation we face under the drastic global change of environment. Being not able to see one another in person because of the pandemic, we hope to unite people through the internet which might become (or has already become) a vehicle for people to come together as a whole through art. How to reflect on human-nature relationship with environmental issues bearing in mind is a practice to ponder on humankind’s future. The ripple effect which disseminates these pieces of information takes place as the artists present their works to the world.

Ming-Chang Tien

Starting his works of art in 1993, Tien has focused on the theme of nostalgia for a very long time. His works constitute nostalgic memories about one’s hometown and family after they leave their home. Tien began to go back to his own childhood in order to resonate with his childhood memories. Since 2013, he has been deeply fascinated by the surrounding of Taiwanese streets which has been deemed as an icon of Taiwanese people expressing their living styles and creativity. His series of street photography brings viewers to question what can really represent Taiwanese culture, and brings Tien himself, too, to his own land in a quest for reconciling with his homesickness and in search for his self-identity. Most of Tien’s works are photography and video art; sometimes, depending on the contents, he works with installations as well. In recent years, in addition to teaching and creating, he has also worked as a curator, as the main organizer of Dong Hwa Corner Art Festival, and as the person in charge of Good Underground Art Space in which he continues his creative works as well as helps others curate their exhibitions. He is now an associate professor in the Department of Arts and Design, National Dong Hwa University and the Art Director of Good Underground Art Space.