Curator TSENG Yu-Chuan
Organizer: Taipei Art Industry Association
Dates: October 2 (Fri.) to November 1 (Sun.), 2020
Time: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00 – 18:00
Venues: Liang Gallery, Fish Art Center, DaGuan Gallery
Humans worship light, which is the source of life and soul in this world as well as the sustaining force in nature. When there is light, there is no fear of darkness. For centuries, light has been the subject of artists’ quest. They depict light, utilize light sensitivity to create images, employ light to construct the feeling of sublime in architecture, use light as a medium to record and develop images, and document trajectories and images to represent and shape the world. In the age of analogous signals, light becomes a medium, a vehicle for expressing all subject matter.
Digital technology has its interface based on “light” to communicate signals, surpassing the analogous “light” of the electronic age with the encoding, transmission, reception and decoding of signals. The “light” of analogous signals shows images after a television is turned on; and when the television is turned off, the images cease to exist. When the light is switched on, a space can be lit up and an atmosphere created, producing a magical sense of immersion. Devices using analogous signals offer spectacles that disappear after the light is switched off. However, the light emitting from the interface of devices using digital signals opens up different worlds that remain in the virtual world, continuing being a part of the world even after their disappearance from the real world and in front of people’s eyes after the devices are turned off.
The images created with digital signals are not real documentation and representation but construction and configuration. The digital world not only comprises memories from our real existence, but also fictitious and fictional texts and images that confuse our understanding of reality, fabricate memory and simulate visual perception. Through overlapping and interweaving the real and the virtual, they reshape our cognition and memory. In the “digital space” that revolves around electronically processed information network, the endless virtual information flows provide personalized browsing experiences. In this digital space, users move between partially real but more and more virtual spaces. The “real” world is now being replaced by the virtual, digital world. (Castells; 1998)
Manuel Castells asserts that “all reality is virtually perceived” because we understand this world through signs and symbols. (Castells; 1998) Jerry Brotton argues that the network society indicates a new system of communication, which produces what Castells has termed “real virtuality.” (Brotton; 2015) In this system, reality itself (the material/symbolic existence) is fully captured and immersed in an environment of virtual image, which “is not only the screen that communicates time but what takes over and becomes the experience.”
In the generation of artificial intelligence, images that are authentic, fake, real or virtual are all converted into signals and signs, forming the reality that people perceive. Objects of the virtual world enter reality, and the imaginary reality becomes our collective memory, mythology, religion and faith. The world, like Brotton describes it, is turning into “an entirety mixed of the virtual and the real that assumes the reality of collective memory and discussion.” However, the so-called real and imaginary only exist in the sensory experience that can be switched on and off rather than only in the digital space. Through three subtopics – “Disappearance and Formation of Memory,” “Vertigo from On and Off Light” and “ Exhibition and Exit of Existence” – Light ON/OFF discusses the memory, initiation and strategy in the process of turning on and off the signals from the analogous era to the digital age, along with the constructed virtuality and reality of signs and symbols.
Subtopic 1: Disappearance and Formation of Memory—Liang Gallery
Memory is central to human life experience. It is stored and shelved in the memory vault, and can be retrieved when needed. However, the authenticity of memory is always a question. Freud compares memory to a “mystic writing pad,” which bridges the consciousness and the unconscious, something that can be written, rewritten, revised, overridden and traced. In the digital age, people record their lives through social media platforms, permanently storing memories with online photo albums while formulating strategies to construct memories through digital writing.
Subtopic 2: Vertigo from On and Off Light—DaGuan Gallery
“Light ON” is a ritual. Through turning on the light, an illusionary stage surfaces in the glistening light. The awakened life flows into the objects and scenes, manifesting spirituality. Light is a vehicle to construct and deliver messages, and translates the messages of life into newly coded messages, conveying stories and situations of the exhibition and converting existences into messages constructed through light. After “Light OFF,” the disappearance from the human sight is merely illusional, as what seems to have disappeared now exists in the space of memories and messages in a permanent way.
Subtopic 3: Exhibition and Exit of Existence—Fish Art Center
Which form of existence should be used to construct the subjectivity of objects and humans? Should we opt to exist in the virtual world as consciousness and messages, giving up the reality to forever merge with the flow of virtual signals and turning into omnipresent individuals? Or, should we guard the material space in ways that living organisms exist, and become the subject in the material world, formulating strategies of inhabiting both the real and the virtual space?
Brotton, Jerry. A History of the World in Twelve Maps. Taipei: Marco Polo Press, 2015.
Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. Taipei: Tonsan, 1998.