3 OCTOBER - 21 NOVEMBER 2020
3 OCTOBER, 4:30 p.m.
TKG+ Projects 2F, No.15, Ln. 548, Ruiguang Rd., Neihu Dist., Taipei 114, Taiwan
Silent and Still: Artist Statement
When I read The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima, I was moved deeply by the story of a young boy who found a hole deep in his drawer, through which he could peek into his mother's room. In that room, there was a window overlooking the sea. That sea has then become the background of every event that he would be able to peep. Or, more precisely, the sea is the end of his horizon, as well as the destination of the sensibility that emanates from within the room. That part of the sea he saw was silent. The emptiness created by the failure of the sound of waves reaching the hole of the drawer was compensated by the constant supply of sensation in the room. Personally, I think this story very much resembles the feelings I experience when I make art. If that sea represents the most fundamental, unexplainable thing of creation, all practices and pieces of knowledge within the context of creation would always tend to complete the imagination of that sea, making it truthful and intact through each artwork.
I made a total of six works for this exhibition. They all originated from the imagination of the ocean, such as triangular maritime flags, flashing signal lights, series of Morse code, sea shanties, or the sounds recorded on the deck. These items are arranged in a certain pattern and interchanged with each other to become some sort of language that cannot be directly interpreted. But to me, what matters is not the deciphering or interpretation of those messages, but the sensibility that came with the passcodes/signals encoded by physical operation and expression of each individual.
At the entrance, we have Semaphore. I attempt to strengthen the relationship between this work and the space by physically creating it on site. This relationship is based on the idea of the exhibition space as a moving ship on land, connecting it with the image of the sea, so that elements of drawing are no longer limited to the works on the wall, but pervade the entire exhibition. For example, sand is spread on the ground and then combed with a rake into the shape of a pennant. This action not only possesses the characteristics of drawing, but also opens up an interface that enables our current dimension to transmit sensibility by using the sign of flag as an encoding system. Just like the scenery which the young boy saw through the hole, what lies beyond is the entrance created by the works (other pieces on display) that invites the viewer to the scenery of a sea of creation. In addition to serving as part of the landscape, these triangular sand fields could also be recognized as the pennants waved by sailors, yet tactfully hiding the real thoughts underneath.
After stepping onto the pallets of Semaphore, I foresee viewers would notice the flashing lights from Bright and Dreamy Afternoon. I wrote two scripts, which were then translated into Morse code. Echoing one another from opposite corners of the exhibition venue, these two scripts transmit signals in the form of blinking lights, as if it were a dialogue between the two that we are unable to interpret, or read. Apart from information and content, secret code is the only way to connect viewers’ emotions through the rhythm of flickers. The Morse code of the flashing lights near the entrance tell the story of the song Isezakicho Blues. According to the lyrics, whenever there is an onshore breeze or a siren sound, streetlights of the Yokohama Port lit up. It was a rainy day when the protagonist first came to the Yokohama Port, as he faced an uncertain future in a strange city. The Morse code of the flashing lights on the other side of the exhibition space is inspired by the song Wharf in the Mist. The lyrics tell the nostalgia and dreams of every wanderer sailing on ship, while reiterating, "The dock lights in the fog are glimmering," implying a sense of anxiety toward the unknown future. To me, the two interacting flashing lights — lighting up, gleaming, flickering, going out — respond to the on and off of the lights described in the lyrics, as well as the emotions that resonate beyond words. The installation Dock in the Night Fog, Lights Glimmering on the first-floor window, on the other hand, captures specifically the flashing lights in the lyrics.
The idea of Song of Sailors came from the shanties sung by the sailors in the book. The work is rendered on two pieces of glass in the form of painting and passcodes. For the painting aspect, the epoxy resin on the glass is smeared, like patterns of fingerprints on a misty window. As for the passcode aspect, the epoxy resin is arranged in series of water droplets, like a window in the rain. They evoke the window scenery one might see in a ship cabin (or the silent sea that the young boy in the book saw through from that hole in the drawer). All the thoughts and content are superimposed with light and shadow, morphing into a landscape.
Between 2010 and 2020, when I work on drawings, two canvases serve a ritualistic purpose. Whenever I begin to work, I would cover them thoroughly with white or black paint. Over the decade, they have been painted over and over for over a hundred times. Much like a warm-up or stretching exercise that is essential to better and faster prepare myself for my painting practice. The repetitive layering of paint comprises not only the texture of paint or the traces of the paintbrush, but also the sediments of time for the past ten years. I was picturing the moment when the ship sails, the crew on the shore would communicate with the ship through signal flags or their limbs. The same messages would be repeated until everyone gets the meaning. Slowly this picture became a daily scenery, reminding us of the life on the sea. Titled Flares, these two canvases are also on view in this exhibition. They may be inconspicuous and monotonous, but to me, they are the most distinct coordinates for this exhibition.
Recitation of the Sea Horizon is a 3D printed installation which, through a software, converts the audio tracks of my interviews with crew members of the Kaohsiung Port and of the Yokohama Port, mixed with excerpts of The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea. The sound clips describe specific physical experiences of the sailors. This work is derived from my previous project "Sound Geography," in which fields sounds were documented in imagery or text, and then subjectively translated into a visual language that is readable. The main difference between Recitation of the Sea Horizon and “Sound Geography" is that the latter is a two-dimensional presentation, while the former treats sound as a something with a three-dimensionality and palpability, enriching the interpretation of sound.
Bonsai is inspired by the potted plants commonly found in alleys and lanes in Taiwan. These potted plants come in different species, containers, and postures, and form something like a set of characters. It seems that potted plants have become another language that people use in public domain, allowing individuals to dabble in public spaces. Based on this observation, I recreated these potted plants through the act of painting, with an attempt to figure out the will of those who place potted plants out in the open. These potted plants, neatly arranged on the pavement like characters written on white paper, acting as an agent of change in public spaces, and further affecting people's perception of space. Painting helps filter out the unnecessary details while I amplify the characteristics of these potted plants.
Silent and Still is an exhibition about encoding, interpretation, as well as the nature and character of each passcode embedded in different mediums. More precisely, this is about painting: visualizing invisible things through physical labor, distilling subtle feelings, and further enhancing them. In the fantasy of the silent sea, the sound is inaudible; the message could not be delivered completely; a myriad of unspeakable and indecipherable feelings emerge. This sensibility intersects with the events and scenery between the hole in the drawer and the sea, and fill in the gaps in between.