I created a site-specific project combining video and ready-made installation in early 2012 at the Treasure Hill Artist Village, seeking to respond to Treasure Hill’s unique cultural and geographical landscape and the unusual physical sensations conjured from being immersed in it. The inspiration behind the artwork came from the seemingly endless rain that was pouring down in the season of spring when I was an artist-in-residence at Treasure Hill and also includes the location’s history with flooding; moreover, I also wanted to explore other issues that are closely connected to people’s everyday lives, including issues with climate, water zones, and space.
This project is a recreation of that particular artwork, as a version that is specific to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM). The initial inspiration for this new version originated from my experiences from visiting the museum. Taipei is humid and constantly raining, and buckets of different sizes and colors are often seen inside the museum during rain seasons, with the buckets catching all the leaks coming down in the space of this nearly 30-year old art museum. Collection and exhibition are two major tasks of this venue as an art museum, but the leaks have become unpredictable risks that are too close for comfort for the artworks on display. Water City – TFAM is an artwork that acts as a humorous and satirical response for this awkward situation, with the artwork transformed into a solution for the museum’s crisis with leaks.
Inside the main installation is a critical object: a dehumidifier that is always turned on. The water absorbed by the dehumidifier is then directed to the floor, and after a certain period of time, the area of the accumulated water will stabilize and turn into a mini indoor flood with an invisible cycle contained within. The concept of the cycle is applied in another portion of the project. Inside the exhibition venue are plants that are provided with water from the leaks, and as they take in the water and grow, the plants are also emitting moisture back into the air again. The various materials and concepts are continuously replaced by different configurations and ways of understanding, deconstructing and reconstructing how the space is perceived and interpreted.
I have attempted to organize and link together the core values embodied by this artwork, which seem to be associated with everyday objects and experiences; however, there are deeper level of awareness, sub-consciousness, unconsciousness, collective unconsciousness, and other psychological matters that I am always focusing on and contemplating about when I make art. How are these objects related to people? How do we see them? How do we use them? Why do we use them that way? The details reflect the way we live, similar to how the soles of someone’s shoes tell a lot about the way they walk and even their physical conditions.
However, if the scale and scope of this reflection can be expanded, can this be taken to the level of collective memories shared by a group of people, the ideology behind a culture circle, and perhaps it can, on an awareness or subconscious level, transcend beyond art and culture, and return to our most primal state and to the state of mankind’s collective unconsciousness.
I have used floods, disasters as references, and I am surprised at people’s decisive responses in the moment they are hit with a disaster. The reactions could certainly be the result of personal experiences, but because of the way they have instantaneously responded, perhaps those reactions are closer to people’s “instincts”. What are instincts? When water is flooded up to our thighs, perhaps it will also push us to become more aligned with our instincts. Instincts can spark us to react quickly with explosive physical responses, but can they also stimulate our “art-making” instincts? This is a question that I’ve pondered on while making a floating water sculpture installation in my living room with water leaking late at night and also seeing images of victims of Typhoon Morakot in Southern Taiwan.