I never used to pay attention to product origin when making purchases at convenient stores. However, on that particular day after buying a bottle of water at the 7-11 in my school, I was checking out the bottle out of boredom, and even began to pay attention to the writing on the packaging, from its name, content, expiration date, and all the way to its product origin. The word “origin” sparked my curiosity, and as I drank the water and looked at the origin where the water was sourced, I began to think that I should visit this place.
It would be a bit forced to try to associate this act with the Chinese saying of, “When you drink from the stream, remember the source (never forget where one's blessings comes from)”; rather, it has more to do with the Internet Wiki Addiction Disorder. I’ve borrowed this term from the internet, as it fits my habit of searching for unfamiliar terms that I see while reading online, such as location names, theories, names of people, etc…I usually read the news or other people’s blog posts online, but things that I come across while reading, such as who is A? What happened after the B incident? These thoughts would lead me from a news website to another page about A, and from a webpage about A, I would encounter something new and perhaps need to find out what happened when B took place, which will move me from the webpage about A to a page about B. It is a continuously thread of finding out the sources or developments pertaining to particular subjects, and Wikipedia is where I can go to satisfy my endless curiosity for different subjects.
Looking back at the artwork, How to Correctly Drink a Bottle of Water, I’ve realized that the connection from the description listed on the bottled water to its product origin is similar to my habit of roaming online. However, my experiences of moving around on the Internet was overlapped into my real life, and through the pursuit and investigation of the words on the bottle, I then began to physically move about in the real world, with words incorporated into the real life. My physical movement began with the following words:
Water Origin: Guandao Mountain, Puli Township, Nantou County
I wanted to find out what the actual site of the water origin looks like, so I wrote to the water company, Yes Water. I informed them of my wish to visit the factory and to see the source of the water. It was certainly not a very convincing project, as it was truly naïve. The company rejected me without hesitation, and this is the response I received from Yes Water’s customer service website:
Dear Mr. Chen:
Our plant is currently under maintenance and is not open to the public.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause!
Thank you for your letter.
Although I was disappointed to receive their reply, nevertheless, it has created a new linking point from the words that I read on the bottle, because I have come into contact with an internal department of the company related to the water origin. I then tried to contact the sales department and the packaged water marketing department of Vedan Company. On the phone, a representative courteously explained to me the conditions of the company’s water source and provided other pertinent details, with suggestions offered for my proposal. I then received the following letter a few days later:
Dear Mr. Chen:
Thank you for your support with More Water! We received a call from you with a request to visit the origin of our water. The water origin is not how you’ve imagined, with geysers or waterfalls. Our operations are conducted in our factory with pipes bringing in the water to the factory from the source. The water source is located in a restricted area that is not open to the public. We hope for your understanding, and as for the water origin, it is indicated on our bottles - Guandao Mountain, Puli Township. Should you have any further inquiries, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us.
My phone conversation with Mr. Chen from the company’s marketing department further confirmed that More Water is indeed sourced from Puli’s Guandao Mountain area; however, their pipes are installed mid-way up the mountain. He then suggested for me to contact the township office of Nantou for further information about how to get to the water source on Guandao Mountain. I then started to contact the township office, and asked a classmate to help me with the shooting a week later. After we parked our car, it took us a round trip of six hours to climb up the main peak of Gunadao Mountain from the west. While climbing the mountain, I was looking forward to any unexpected discoveries, and at the same time, I also jokingly said to my friend that it felt like we were on location for a TV program, like a travel show. I switched from being a TV viewer to being a host, with me putting travel adventure programs in the category of dynamic Wikipedia, because that kind of programs usually begins with a clue, such as “An edible matchmaking line”. The production tem then follows the clue and visits different towns and villages, and eventually ends up at a noodle shop in Hisnju. The program then concludes with the story of the noodle shop owners becoming husband and wife because of noodles. If the program had started by telling everyone that this episode will be about noodles, I think half of the audience will switch to a different channel. Wiki Addiction Disorder differs from looking up something on the Encyclopedia Britannica. Although still about looking for the truth or searching for the definition of something, the authoritative tone with the Encyclopedia Britannica is created with affirmative sentences that seem to be saying that all you need to do is trust me, and there is no need to ask others. However, with the Wiki Addiction Disorder, we enjoy the moving process, flowing form one point to another. While searching online, we often forget what we started off looking for, as we continuously link from A to C to H. I began with the water source of Guandao Mountain, Puli Township, Nantou County, and I traveled to the main peak of Guandao Mountain, and this entire process is similar to the core value that I see with travel adventure shows, “It does not aim to offer you a spectacle, and to me, what I am trying to propose is a sense of ‘re-adventure in one’s everyday life’. Simply put, it is a defamiliarization of the everyday life, with things looked at from new angles.
I am not sure if it was an accident or a coincidence, the most important footage of drinking the water for a video I later shot on the main peak of Guandao, Drinking the Bottled Water I bought at TNNUA’s 7-11, was erased due to technical malfunction. The remaining footages were then exhibited without the ending. Perhaps, the turnout is a way of pointing out that, “The subject we are searching for is not everything; more importantly, it is about how to once again take adventure in our everyday lives.”