Opening: 2017-10-27 - 00:00:00
Venue: Hunter Lecture Theatre, 74 Lauriston Place
Address: 英國愛丁堡大學美術學院
Website: taiwan-academy.eca.ed.ac.uk/yao-jui-chung/

Lecture 1: Post-Republican Action Series (後民國的臨終關懷)

Yao’s representative works include his Action Series which explores the question of Taiwan’s identity in Military Takeover (1994), subverts modern Chinese political myths in Recovering Mainland China (1997), and examines post-colonialism in The World is for All (1997~2000), as well as Long March-Shifting the Universe (2002). In 2007, Yao created a series of video art including Phantom of History, March Past and Mt. Jade Floating, therefore humorously subverting the former totalitarian regime. The video art pieces Long Live (2011) and Long Long Live (2013) are made out of the reflection on the White Terror and Martial Law of Taiwan during the Cold War. All these works, directed and performed by the artist himself, tease and heal each individual who has been submerged in Taiwan’s history.


Lecture 2: From Phantom of History to Mirage (廢墟的政治地理學)

Yao has created photo installations combining the style of “gold and green landscape” with the superstitions that permeate Taiwanese folklore, expressing a false and alienated “cold reality” that is specific to Taiwan. Representative works include the series of Celestial Barbarians (2000), Savage Paradise (2000) and Heaven (2001). Another photo installation series Libido of Death (2002) and Hill (2003) tries to probe into the eternal issue of body and soul. Since 2005, Yao has assembled all the black-and-white photos of ruins he took in the past fifteen years, grouped under the themes of Industry, Religious Idols, Architecture and Military Bases. They reveal the enormous ideological black hole in Taiwan hidden behind the trends of globalization and Taiwan’s specific historical background, as a continuation of the main theme of his work: the absurdity of the historical destiny of humanity. Between 2010 and 2016, Yao grouped his students into a team of photography workshop where they photographed and surveyed their hometowns for the infamous “mosquito house.” Yao compiled these photographs and published “Mirage: Disused Public Property in Taiwan” volumes I-IV, which he intended as a reminder for the general public and as reference material for the government.

透過攝影裝置手法,以「金碧山水」風格結合台灣民間充斥的怪力亂神現象,呈現台灣特有的一種虛假、疏離的「冷現實」,代表作品為《獸身供養》(2000)、《野蠻聖境》(2000)及《天堂變》(2001)系列;而另以銀箔結合攝影裝置的系列《死之慾》(2002)、《地獄頌》(2003),則試圖探討肉體與靈魂間的永恆議題。 而自2005年起整理過去十五年在台灣各處踏查所拍攝的廢墟照片,歸納了工業、神偶、建築及軍事廢墟四大部份,呈現台灣在全球化潮流與特殊歷史背後中,所隱藏著的龐大意識形態黑洞,延續「人類歷史的命運,具有某種無可救藥的荒謬性!」創作主軸。2010年至2016年帶領二百二十餘位同學返鄉進行《海市蜃樓Ⅰ、Ⅱ、Ⅲ、Ⅳ、V -台灣公共閒置設施》拍攝計劃,以「政治地理學」概念刺穿社會積習已久的「蚊子館」現象,引起社會高度關注並間接促進政府內部改革。

Lecture 3: Copyleft: China Appropriation Art (借屍還魂的反正統繪畫)

Since 2007, Yao has started to create a series of works in Scotland including Wonderful (2007), Dust in the Wind (2008~2010), Dreamy (2008~2010), Romance (2009), Honeymoon (2010~2011), Very Temple (2013), Brain Dead Tranelogue (2015), Eight Days a Week (2016) and Baby (2017). He appropriates masterpieces from Chinese art history and recreates them in his own way, transforming them into his personal history or real stories in an attempt to turn grand narratives into the trivial affairs of his individual life. Yao intends to usurp so called orthodoxy with his recreated landscapes.

In the past, the Six Principles of Painting elucidated by Xie He enveloped Chinese painting for fifteen hundred years, forming an unbreakable testing standard. By nature, Yao has never been an obedient child, as is summed up simply by Yao’s Six Principles self-ridicule: “As we all know, Chinese painting takes the ink brush as the criterion, the touch of the brush is what lays a foundation for the brushwork characteristics ink brush painting, and from this the bone property of brush strokes are derived. I deliberately choose modern writing tools (ballpoint pens, marker pens, ink fountain or rollerball pens, and technical pens), using ‘Weaving Silk with Hard Pens’, to build up depth and layering progressively with each stroke. As the colour filling the pens is all of the same shade, I combine quick strokes with slow strokes to produce changes in shade in a single line. Because ink stick and ink stone are not used, this is called ‘No Stick, No Stone’. In order not to allow the lines drawn by hard pens on smooth paper to appear flat, the coarse texture of handmade Indian cotton paper is used instead of traditional rice paper; ‘Coarse Cotton in Place of Rice’. Complementing hard pens with dry wrinkled surfaces forms a special kind of artwork. The coarse texture of the remaining white spaces after gold foil has been pasted on lends it an appearance closer to that of the murals in the Dunhuang Grottoes. After the gold has been used to fill the white spaces, the appearance is not too brilliant and gorgeous, but rather has a beautiful graceful feeling, and this process is called ‘Put Gold Where There is White.’ Frankly speaking, I’ve always felt elaborate artist’s signatures to be a little superfluous, so I advocate ‘Low Profile Signing’. As for the seal, these are a specialized field of knowledge, there is no need for them to take up a big chunk of space on the artwork, so I use instead a ‘Steel-stamped Floating Imprint’ instead. To summarize, in this era of all schools contending for attention, how to shake off the old styles and schools and make one’s one mark with a unique signatory style has become more important than ever before. Naturally, both subject matter and form need to have spirit. In the past there was the deformation of the late Ming Dynasty, now there’s the post-Republic pseudo-landscape, altogether four hundred years off inherited style. Isn’t the contrast between the two wonderful!”


Lecture 4: Life Cycle and God’s Link (永劫輪迴的欲力奇觀)

Nowadays, Taiwan has over twelve hundred temples and therefore being a leading figure of temple culture. Paying homage to temples embodies the diversity of Chinese people. Hiding behind the temples are the wish and desire of all kinds. Chinese want to get real benefits, physical health and great next life through supernatural power, hence, demand and supply, all kinds people, no matter they are strange or sophisticated, men or women, good or bad, high rank or low class, are kneeling down and praying in temples. A temple becomes bigger with its legend becomes fancier suggests a number of its believers might have already received help from unexplainable mysterious power. Sacrifice is not made solely based on belief but also on the number of realised miracles, as well as how great those miracles are. A temple would gather strength through its huge statue. This series of photographs contains over 180 temples, cemeteries, parks and playgrounds across Taiwan, they were shot within one year and a half since the beginning of 2016. The main focus of this series is on the God’s image created out of the self-image of Han Chinese, some of the locations are abandoned, more not. Through those projections of human desire, the geographical political relations of those locations would be understood. Usually a photograph would appear to be narrative when there is human within, however, being narrative is not the artist’s intent. Yao hides human behind the image by not shooting any scene that contains “activity”, “ceremony” and “human”. The only thing that he focused on is the “projection of huge human desire”, which is the physical figuration of the God. Typologically, the subject of this series is closer to landscape than folklore. Things presented in the photos are the normal looks instead of special looks during special occasions of the statues. There is no human, no event, no disaster in the photos and the photographing process is purely calm and objective. The objects shot are not religious buildings, folk events or religious ceremonies, but the “figurations of human desire” that exist beyond. People’s desire builds up the “figure” of a huge statue, but this “figure” is merely phantom. Because what can be seen is not the reality and all the “figures” are nothing more than vanity. A person would get lost in the eternal life cycle if being obsessed with the “figure”.

臺灣目前有一萬兩千多間廟宇,宮廟文化獨步全球,更是華人世界最複雜繽紛的一塊領域, 大部分宮廟皆藏有凡夫俗子對現世的各種需求與寄託,民眾希望藉由超驗界力量獲取現實利益、肉身健康或來生想望,因此就產生了供需問題,舉凡奇人異士、文人騷客、販夫走卒在此叩首,善男信女、黑白二道、三教九流無不跪拜,一間廟宇越蓋越大、越來越神,表示背後有眾多信徒可能獲得無法解釋的神秘力量幫助,奉獻的基礎不全然是信仰本身,往往根據靈驗多寡與神蹟高強而定,並藉由廟宇所興建的巨大神像產生凝聚力量。這系列攝影作品自2016年初開拍,歷經一年半密集拍攝全台一百八十餘間廟宇、墓園、公園及樂園,主要關注漢人用自我形象所投射而形塑出來的神偶世界,祂們有些毀棄、大部份還存在,透過這些欲望投射物進而了解地理空間上的特殊政治性關係。通常攝影畫面只要有人物形象出現往往會有敘事性,但我想跳開敘事,將具體的人之形象隱藏到畫面後方,因此避免拍攝「活動」、「祭典」或是有「人物」的場景,只專注於信徒們膜拜的「巨大欲力投射」,也就是神明之具體形象,偏向類型學景觀式攝影而非民俗攝影,拍攝的是常態樣貌而非特殊個案,作品中沒有人物、迴避事件、遠離災難,採取客觀冷靜且抽離的姿態,拍攝對象也非宗教建築、民俗活動或信仰儀式,而是展現超越前述內容的「慾力具體化」。萬眾慾力共構出一尊巨大神像的「相」,但再現此「相」實為幻影,因為所見實相非相,凡所有相皆是虛妄,若過度執著於相即生迷惘,將墮入永劫輪迴之中而不可自拔焉。