History is a discourse about, but categorically different from, the past.
For curatorial workers post-1990s, curatorship and creating are similar states of being, both requiring a certain level of introspection to confront with honesty some elements at the core of life itself, before extending outward. In retrospect of individual developmental processes, it is difficult to ignore the influences of formal education on an individual after 20 years of educational experience. For instance, if martial law was the social condition that most impacted our parental generation, then what was the event that influenced our generation (specifically the generation born in the year 1990)?
The educational arena made strides alongside the societal atmosphere of openness Post-Martial Law. In 1996, a policy for the recompilation of the primary school textbook system in keeping with the "One Guideline - Multiple Texts" policy of the "Unified Nine-Year Curriculum" was rushed on track despite many aspects still under debate. And thus, the "One Guideline - One Text" of the National Translation and Compilation Center gradually took its place in the annals of history. The educational journey of the generation born around 1990 (from 1989 to 1990) was in effect a condensed history of educational reform.  From a pedagogical point of view, family is the first step toward socialization in the developmental process of self-awareness, and schools represent a first encounter with formalized social institutions. Of these, history classes are often our first foray into establishing our history. With the liberalization of academic texts, history is no longer a singular official edict, and the point of historical origin has begun to diverge. Our own subjective positionality also seemingly reflects the respective points of historical origin within our hearts.
History is a script of the present
The variations in historical writing resulting from the "Unified Nine-Year Curriculum" textbook recompilation policy resulted in a process of turbulence and continual change that is profoundly reflected in the generation who were educated post-Martial Law. The Metahistory exhibition applies the concept of "language variant" as defined in linguistical study, usually to refer to regional dialects of a single language that derive and develop in different localities - to the idea of a "historical variant," of historical narratives composed of words and phrases as a contemplative basis. This is referenced as an analogy for the unrestricted publication of textbooks post-martial law, where historical narrative was no longer a singular official version. Points of historical genesis begin to diverge. Under these conditions, how do we shape our subjective cultural identities?
How does the generation who lived through martial law reconstruct cognitively as they confront the numerous cognitive upheavals of the past after the lifting of martial law? Here, we must first clarify that the production of history necessarily accompanies the writer's subjectivity and underlying ideologies. These two variables will influence ways in which a writer selects and presents historical materials, and the narrative tone. Those who hold the right to historical discourse often simultaneously have a firm grasp on narrative format and dissemination.
As the right to generate and write history is opened up, history is no longer dependent on national identity. The process of a disintegrating national identity compels us to confront history, and necessitates an inspection of the accumulated historical materials and archives of the past while being able to read the underlying ideologies. When reading becomes a possibility, we will have the initiative to reweave and retell history. We will discover that this process of weaving - whether by overturning past narratives through historical realities, or by dismantling and then re-telling these narratives - does not stray from the core of "how we imagine the self." For this exhibition, three Taiwanese artists: JAO Chia-En, LIU Chih-Hung, TENG Chao-Ming; and two foreign artists residing in Taiwan: AU Sow-Yee (Malaysia) and Yannick DAUBY (France) begin with the production of a historical framework to dismantle the narrative structure of history before returning to collect and edit on-site. This process also reflects the self within, opening up a space for mutual response, for interweaving and discussion under the set theme of the exhibition and these works.
The Dismantling of Narrative Structures
Four methods of writing 1949:
"In the 38th year of the Republic (1949 A.D), the Nationalist government relocated to Taiwan and began work on various areas of construction." 
"In the 34th year of the Republic (1945 A.D.), civil war erupted between the Nationalist government and communist forces. The Nationalist government was defeated in 1949 and forced into exile from Mainland China, bringing close to a million military personnel and civilians from mainland Chinese in their relocation to Taiwan." 
"In the 38th year of the Republic, the Chinese Communist Party established the People's Republic of China, forcing the government of the Republic of China into exile, relocating to Taiwan." 
"In the 38th year of the Republic, ________1________; ________2________."
1. Choose an option:
(A) the Nationalist Government was defeated in a civil war against the Communist Party
(B) the Communist Party established the People's Republic of China
(C) the Nationalist Government relocated to Taiwan
(D) none of the above
2. Choose an option
(A) began work on areas of construction.
(B) was forced into exile from Mainland China, bringing close to a million military personnel and civilians from mainland Chinese in their relocation to Taiwan.
(C) was forced into exile from the Mainland, relocating to Taiwan
(D) none of the above
Are we always able to remain conscious vis-à-vis the reading of history in order to excavate the ideological stance of the author?
In the writing of history, the author's perspective is often reflected in his or her word choices. In the current exhibition, TENG Chao-Ming's work A Monument for the (Im)possibility of Figuring it Out (2012/2018), compiles a list of the storyboards and relationships of each choice made in the original cinematic text in a deconstruction of Edward Yang's film, A Bright Summer Day. The work is detached from all modifying adjectives and adverbs, describing the actions of the characters in the film using simple verbs and nouns. The original narrative structure of the film is opened up to become a narrative body on which the viewer may participate in projecting emotion. In addition to textual deconstruction of the original work, the third presentation of A Monument for the (Im)possibility of Figuring it Out (2012/2018) in the current exhibition  will once again comb through the deconstructed context and the process of self-dialogue to interrogate the future direction of the monument - underscoring the work's expansion of a historical event to establish a "monument," seemingly to draw a conclusion for a historical event, but still in a state of suspended fate.
The capacity for the five sensory receptors of the human brain to receiving external information stands at a ratio of 87 percent visual, 7 percent auditory, 2 percent olfactory, and 1 percent taste. We are accustomed to using our visual sense to perceive and comprehend the historical changes in a region, to imagine in historical images and textual documents. In his writings on the "post-Historical era," Author Danto  describes the disintegration of the "Grand Narrative." In the post-modern condition, human beings are no longer satisfied with grand narratives, and the existence of the "little narratives" is gradually being established and excavated, while also creating different perspectives for comprehension and possibilities for different sensory comprehension.
Field recordings attempt to realistically present the sounds heard, but this process of recording involves equipment, and choices in recording methodology and target subject. The listener also brings subjectivity to the act of listening. What information can we hear in sounds? In 1930, Walter Ruttmann recorded and edited sounds on the streets of Berlin. In the 11 and a half minutes of sound, there are sounds of moving vehicles, striking objects, radio, music, and human conversations at the time. The richness of sound recording does not pale against visual images in comprehending Berlin of that era from a different perspective. Yannick DAUBY's work Taipei 2030 is edited from sounds captured in the Taipei Basin in 2009. The work presents a near-future imagining of Taipei's urban environmental development. Yannick DAUBY develops the soundscape of Taipei 2030 in two directions. The first of these is an aural Utopia of Taipei, that in the act of listening, conjures for us the soundscapes of Taipei's past, encouraging natural diversity in the city, and environmentally friendly modes of transportation in the act of listening. The other is a dystopic realm, the signs of which can also be deduced from the living spaces of Taipei at the present moment; for instance, the endless stream of motorcycles and cars on the avenues, the over-usage of air conditioning, and the high-decibel loud-speakers in commercial spaces. A future soundscape based on factual recordings is perhaps a pure auditory imagination, but the sounds in this work so closely approximates real life. Captured in the recording is a girl humming the popular Mandarin single "Sooner or Later" (2006) by Malaysian singer Aki HUANG - a century from now, could it too, become a sampling that enables understanding of life in the present day?
Objectivity may be possible in making a recording, but subjectivity cannot be avoided in the act of listening. Do subjective choices also reflect a certain imagination? In LIU Chih-Hung's "Sound Geography"series initiated in 2015, "sound textures" collected by the artist's personal journeys and investigations with regions as units, are accumulated and transformed through the artist's eyes and ears. A brand-new presentation of recording from four regions in Taiwan entitled Sound Geography - Kaohsiung, Coastal Tainan, Hengchuen, Beitou will debut in the current exhibition, showcasing the rich cultural underpinnings of each area through the presentation of 12 essays/locations. Local stories, history, people, objects, and events are received through the corporeality of the artist and recorded through writing, sketches, and photography. These collected journals not only reflect a moment in time at each location, but also expand our imagination about each place.
A reflection of the self
The writing of history inevitably implicates the author's consciousness, but rumination and construction in the act of reading is dependent on the reader's self-consciousness. The cultural composition of any region involves accumulation over a long period of time and the effects of amalgamation with surrounding areas. From the development of the Silk Road prompted by economic and trade necessities, the explorations during the Age of Discovery, to the internet of today, mutual influence between regions around the globe has intensified. Cultural amalgamation and influence has been consistently on-going. It is difficult to undertake a reading of regional history in the present day from a singular cultural point of view. Maintaining a conscious and self-aware openness and inclusiveness in reading, to gradually understand the local cultural structures, may be a path that saves us from falling into a singular perspective and creating cultural opposition. The Kuskus Tribe, which has attracted public attention in recent years, re-established its shrine at its original site in 2015. The local tribe has a history spanning over 600 years, overlaid with multiple cultural influences of the Christian faith, the Paljilauljilau, lowland Han culture, the Hakka, and the Japanese. JAO Chia-En's work is rooted in the local, and revolves around issues of identity, marginality, aesthetics, and political institutions. In recent years he has delved deeper into cross-cultural issues of colonial history and the Asia-Pacific Region. Different interpretations of history are established in the conscious process of dealing with these issues; which further calls into question the contexts established by nations and by the media. JAO Chia-En's new work The Voyage is a continuation of his 2017 work Counterclockwise as he visits local populations of the Kuskus Tribe, the organizational contexts of cultural and economic structures, to deconstruct the interwoven past and present of historical events, and the contexts of identity and imagination behind it.
A long-time resident of Taipei, Malaysian artist AU Sow-Yee created Mengkerang - an imagined idealized place located somewhere in the "South Seas," in her 2013 work, A Day Without Sun in Mengkerang (Chapter One). The term "Southseas" immediately conjures stereotypical exotic imaginings of the Southeast Asian region around Malaysia and Singapore. Au Sow-Yee uses quotidian images collected from the Malaysian Peninsula coupled with a ragtag tale mingling truth with fiction told relay-style by interviewees of different races, educational backgrounds, and age groups - combined with ersatz documents at the exhibition venue - to create an imagined Utopia. AU Sow-Yee experiments with her own questions about the "One Malaysia" slogan with A Day Without Sun in Mengkerang (Chapter One). The artist merely sets up the narrative rules for the film; however, by projecting reality onto the fiction told in the improvisational narratives of the interviewees, a community slowly comes into shape through the narratives of the interviewees.
The Present, Past, Future
As mentioned in the beginning of the text, history is a script of the present. We take the present moment as a temporal base point from which to demarcate the past from the future, but the past, present, and future are not a singular linear relationship. Many of the works in this exhibition are mutually and intricately connected. For instance, TENG Chao-Ming's work implicates an event that seemingly occurred in the past, but the work A Monument for the (Im)possibility of Figuring it Out actually takes a past event to highlight the formative structure of historical narratives, and whether we actually have the initiative to detach from the structure under the operations of social systems. We often discover that past experiences and tales become weapons of evidence in current debate and carries a value judgement of "history should not be repeated." However, these conditions cannot be discussed in a singular value system in the Kuskus Tribe of JAO Chia-En's project. The intersection of disparate ideologies and temporal layering still await organization. Perhaps what is more important here is not the presence of the artist, but the people who actually live in the tribe. A location and the underlying reflections of a common imagination and identity similarly serves as the theme in AU Sow-Yee's work. A discussion of an imagined Utopia that is seemingly removed from reality, but ultimately these conjured tales become realistic projections. One cannot help but reconsider the relationship between history and the present. The works of LIU Chih-Hung and Yannick DAUBY both reveal that the body becomes the past in the moment of listening. The body subjectively receives and responds to everything. That moment is truthfully reflected whether through sound or the presentation of texts and photographs, but are we able to read the objectivity within this subjective presentation of a present moment? And can these subjective records still be regarded as archives for reference in our understanding of the past?
We can perhaps explain it thus: History is not only a problem of the present. As British author George Orwell wrote in 1984, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." If we are able to realize the problems in the structure of history, to excavate and overturn archives that await resolution, we can perhaps begin writing anew. Discussions of history serve as a starting point, but what is more important is perhaps whether we are able to take hold of the dynamism within the narrative framework and reflect on ways in which we can reposition the self in the repeated processes of organization, reading, and, self-reflection; in order to rewrite and reweave our identities into the cultural fabric, to open up new spaces for re-discussion, respond to present realities, and guide reality toward the future.
Nicknamed "Lab Rats for Education Reform," this generation were the recipients of the "One Guideline - Multiple Texts" and "Structural Mathematics". In 2001, the "Unified Nine-Year Curriculum" was officially on track, replacing the "One Guideline - Multiple Texts" and extending through Middle School. At the high school level, an additional "Continuity Course" was implemented in addition to existing textbooks due to gaps created by the implementation of the Unified Nine Year Curriculum. With the high school curriculum still in a state of transformation, school textbooks are virtually a dual-track progression of both the "One Guideline - Multiple Texts" and the National Translation and Compilation Center editions.
National Primary School Social Studies Textbook (4th Year Second Semester), Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Group, 1999.
National Primary School Social Studies Textbook (6th Year First Semester), Nani Publishing, 2004.
National Primary School Social Studies Textbook (5th Year First Semester), Nani Publishing, 2001.
The work premiered at the 2012 Taipei Biennial, and was exhibited a second time at the "Therefore, X=X" exhibition at Project Fulfill Art Space in 2012.
Danto, Arthur, After the End of Art Contemporary Art and the Pale of History, Princeton University Press, 2014.