策展人Curator / 謝慧青
~Celeste Olalquiaga in Megalopolis
數位空間的概念也顛覆了我們過去對空間的觀念，超越了我們所經驗的實體空間地理的概念，可能隨著手指點一下滑鼠或鍵盤，隨即變化轉換到不同的網路空間，它是自由移動、瞬息萬變的。許多學者也以類德勒茲（Gilles Deleuze）的「根莖」概念來比喻網路的水平游移、網狀連接的結構。這樣的數位空間不是我們真實世界所接觸的生活空間—「第一空間」，也不是也不是概念所生成的構想的空間—「第一空間」；而是擁有索雅（Edward W. Soja）所描繪的「第三空間」的特色：具有「真實與想像兼具」的性質，是一種「其他（an-Other）的理解與行動方式，著眼於改變人類生活的空間性，一種獨特的批判性空間察覺。」
曹斐的《我‧鏡》以及《人民城寨的生活》，是以她在第二人生網路平台中的化身中國‧翠西為主角所拍攝的短片。在《人民城寨的生活》中，透過翠西與他的孩子中國‧山之間的問答，逐漸揭露了人民城寨建設的過程與虛擬城市的特性，以及真實世界與之對應的關係。中國各大城市過去幾年來大興土木，如本有許多老胡同以及古蹟建築的北京城，突然之間與西方建築師所打造出的現代建築交相雜處，使得北京的城市風貌充滿了混雜與異質性。曹斐將這樣的有如第三空間的北京城解構重組，並混雜入上海、香港以及西方的建築，重組再現為人民城寨（RMB City）， 其中充滿了藝術家個人遊戲式的嘲諷式：大熊貓、中央電視台被懸吊在空中，古根漢美術館變成甜甜圈等等。
i-City: Virtual Cities in Digital Space
Real/Virtual: i-City Curatorial Philosophy
Hui-Ching Hsieh, curator of Real/Virtual: i-City
The postmodern confusion of time and space, in which temporal continuity collapses into extension and spatial dimension is lost to duplication, transforms urban culture into a gigantic hologram capable of producing any image within an apparent void. In this process, time and space are transformed into icons of themselves and consequently rendered into scenarios.
Celeste Olalquiaga in Megalopolis1992, 19 (qtd. in Soja 237)
Although not a natural number which exists in the natural world, “i”, an imaginary number in mathematics, can be calculated in equation. This exhibition uses the term of “i-City” to refer to a virtual city that doesn’t exist in reality but does in the digital space. Those digital cities configured by artists are neither existent within material space on earth nor can be found on the map; however, they exist in the digital domain that can be traveled by human beings.
Real/Virtual: i-City, which is inaugurated in Taipei Digital Art Center in mid-March, includes six artists from both Taiwan and Mainland China: Fei Cao, I-Chun Chen, Hsin-Chien Huang, Chun-Yu Lai, and Wen-Cheng Lee, Tzu-Hsiu Yeh. This exhibition features on diversified forms of new media arts, including interactive installation, circular projection, video art, digital output, TV wall, cyber art, and so on.
By finger-clicking on a mouse or a keyboard, soon we switch to different cyber space. The concept of digital space in which we can transcend beyond what we have experienced in the material spatial geography also subverts what we used to comprehend space. That is, it (digital space) is free to move and highly changeable.
Many scholars have employed ideas that are similar to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of “rhizome” to explain internet lateral mobility and network structures. The digital space is neither “Firstspace”, the real material world, nor the “Secondspace”, which is constructed by “imagined” ideas. Instead, according to Edward W. Soja, it has the characteristic of “Thirdspace”—a place that combines both “real-and-imagined” qualities. It is “an-Other way of understanding and acting to change the spatiality of human life, a distinct mode of critical spatial awareness.” (Soja, 10)
By appropriating images which are retrieved from urban architectural elements or street snapshots in the real city, artists then deconstruct those images to “re-present space” in the digital world. They not only create both real-and-imagined urban space, but also subvert and satirize what they have perceived in the real world through approaches such as various metamorphoses, transformation, symbolization, and displacement. Artists recreate hybrid-and-heterogeneous virtual cities that are not only paralleled to and similar to real cities but drastically different to real ones as well. Thus, these virtual cities are the re-presentation of heterogeneous Thirdspace. On one hand, virtual cities in the works reflect how urban culture in real world are challenged and contended under the wave of globalization and therefore produce an urban cultural entity that is tangled with diverse cultural heterogeneity. On the other hand, virtual cities reflect how everyone’s daily life is infiltrated by the internet in the contemporary society. Our living space no longer exists in what we have experienced in the physical material space, but, by means of internet, extends to the infinite cyber space in which we can freely construct and imagine a digital city.
Reintegration of Hybridity and Heterogeneity
Fei Cao’s Mirror and Live in RMB City are short films featuring on China Tracy, the second-life embodiment of Fei Cao in the cyber world. In Live in RMB City, through dialogues between China Tracy and her son, China Sun, the process of constructing RMB City and features of virtual cities gradually reveal. In addition, Live in RMB City divulges corresponding relations between the virtual and the real world. Beijing’s landscape is filled with hybridity and heterogeneity—a mixture of Western modern buildings and Chinese traditional architectures such as Hu Tong—because China has been undergoing a construction boom. In RMB City, a collage of diverse architectural elements from Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Western, where Fei Cao deconstructs and reiterates Beijing, which is similar to the concept of Thirdspace, there is full of artist’s personal playful sarcasm: big panda and China Network Television (CNTV) hanging in the sky, and a donut Guggenheim Museum.
There are three parts in Mirror, and it is Fei Cao’s traveling documentation in second life. The first part portrays the money-built world within Fei Cao’s mind. Although this world is fictional, it is a quite capitalized one which bears shrewd cruelty. The second part reveals true feelings that Fei Cao has in her second life. Her embodiment might be a virtual one; however, what she has committed in this world is utterly real emotion. The third part unfolds a worldview that transcends race and national boundaries. This might be a virtual world which is established by money and consumptive value, but it still attracts multiple kinds of people to visit.
In Shall We Dance Shanghai, by randomly selecting architectural cityscape that Hsin-Chien Huang extracts from different periods of Shanghai along with human-sized shapes, simultaneous interactions ensue the audience to dance with the music of old Shanghai. Architectural cityscapes in Shanghai such as classical belfries, pediments, red bricks, modern cement building, balcony, and iron-grid window altogether interweave, reiterate, and disappear with the coming and going of the audience. Architectures gather the memory of human history, and decay in the river of time. In the digital world, however, they have reincarnated through the form of human, which connect urban memories and dreams among citizens and compose a digital song of urban architectures.
A Digital Allegory in the City
In Chun-Yu Lai and Wen-Cheng Lee’s works where they narrate what they respectively have observed and introspected in relation to their situated cities, digital cities are symbolic allegories in response to real cities. Under the wave of globalization, in a modern M-shape society in which the gap between the rich and poor increase, Taiwan has been infiltrated with disparate cultures including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. As a result, these trends influence Taiwan’s development and cityscape—a mixture with cultural hybridity. In Chun-Yu Lai’s Dying Sun, sun rises from high-rise mansions, accompanied with signboards saying “Catastrophe”, “Fighting and Confliction ”, and “ Pseudo Christ Apparition”. It never occur to us that sun rising brings us nothing but explosion and apocalypse—a world that is destroyed and then reborn—which lead us to a world of iron roofs and wooden partition ghettoes. By showing contrast distributions of two urban developments, we capture the worry that the artist has toward the M-shape social structure.
Wen-Cheng Lee’s Seeing Invisible Ocean signifies the exuberant island of Taiwan which is composed of architectural elements in our daily life. When rising from pure sea-level horizon, Taiwan suddenly is engulfed by a gigantic dragon, and reborn as a great robot which then transforms into an enormous cosmic city, rising with rays of light. As for Disappeared Flora Exposition, in which a gigantic monster that is transformed from an urban architecture appears near the site of Taipei Flora Expo, it is artist’s reflection and sarcasm toward social phenomena that are caused by such an event in Taipei. Common disparate architectural elements in Taiwan cityscapes—high-rises, apartments, windows, neon light, advertisements, traffic light, bridges, and Ferris wheel—altogether are model components of a machine which acts as a transformer that, emerging from the earth and ascending the former landscape, would later become huge monsters. What rattles is the life energy that is rooted in local inhabitants, and therefore this work which is filled with hybrid cityscapes exactly portrays Taiwan.
The Spatial Transformation of Information
Marshall McLuhan asserts that any technique will gradually create a brand new human environment which represents a positive progression, instead of a pessimistic product, and will turn old environment into a man-made art form. In Micro-Signal, Tzu-Hsiu Yeh transforms electro-digital signals that are produced and broadcasted within cities into the source of light in different colors. Within a dark room, the artist establishes a fictional city continually twinkling with numerous small LED light. All kinds of IT products have entered our lives, without our consciousness, and have constituted another informational cyber space within the physical space.
In I-Chun Chen’s An Email with Pitiable Subject, You Are Attacked by Virus!, artist make an analogy between endless alleys and network spatial connections. When you surf on the internet, you might receive a Trojan Horse virus in any minute. It is likely that you would be afraid to bump into lurking robbers when loitering in maze-like streets in real urban space. Which road should you choose when standing in the many entrances which lead to different alleys? Especially once in a while an airplane flies through a girl-model, a signboard or a lantern, even a rooster, a black canine or a rhinoceros. In the age of internet, you might, through occasional hyperlinks, enter different web space in which sometimes you find things amazing, sometimes you bump into boring rubbish, and sometimes you encounter danger! Web space becomes the world that internet users are bound to explore, and it is the world that we are getting more and more familiar with. Homepage is the gate to the world. I-Chun Chen represents how she really feels with spatial elements that she retrieves in the real world.
Six artists demonstrated how they felt toward the city with urban elements that they acquired in reality; hence, they established wondrous virtual cities that were full of imagination. Who says the inexistence of a virtual city? It does really exist among our genuine feelings.
Soja, Edward W. Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1996. Print.