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A glimpse of EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab’s whole picture

A glimpse of  EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab’s whole picture

Written by the Director of Prototype Paradise KUNG Yu-ying (Yoyo)

 

An Interdisciplinary Experimental Lab for Artists │ Side Note on “EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab”  │ Artists of Experimental Lab

 

 

An Interdisciplinary Experimental Lab for Artists

In May 2018, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) first hosted the workshop “EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab” that took “Public Space Performance” as a theme, with more than twenty Taiwanese theater-makers and seven international and local industry instructors participating in the event. In May 2020, one and a half years after Weiwuying was opened to the public, the second Lab event was thought to be cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, since the outbreak in Taiwan has been well under control and the situation has stabilized, this event was able to be held as planned.

 

(Remark 1: The “EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab” was part of a four-year collaborative project agreement signed with the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ). The project planned to have European artists participating along with local artists, however, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the travel restrictions of each country, foreign artists had to cancel their flights and the event was suspended. Weiwuying followed the guidelines of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and complied with various epidemic prevention instructions including all necessary risk assessments and decided to restart the EUREKA event for local Taiwanese art creators.)

 

Side Note on “EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab”

A total of 32 creators from all corners of Taiwan participated in the event this year, with their professional backgrounds ranging from music, theatre, dance, circus, design, graphic, sound, to painting and others. Most of them have theater experiences and about half of them have participated in the 2018 workshop. The Weiwuying staff team laid out the structure of the overall event and offered reliable administrative and technical support during the whole process. Four teachers, including me, were invited to be the “Guide”, each leading the experimental practices in our own way.

 

In the morning when the workshop began, Executive Office Production Director of Weiwuying, Jack KUO (郭遠仙), gave us a tour of the venue in and out, using simple techniques from time to time to show us the delicate acoustical engineering design of the theater halls. In the afternoon, two local artists from Kaohsiung : founder of Kelio Art Studio, Clio HUNG(洪榆橙), and one of the participants, Leader of Nan-Yi Musical Theater, LIN Huan-ling (林喚玲), gave us a tour of Fengshan District, where Weiwuying is located. We visited the Imperial Japanese Navy Fengshan Wireless Communications Station, Huangpu New Village, Dadong Arts Center, Cheng Huang Taoist (City God) Temple and the Public Retail Market. All participants got to familiarize themselves with the historical and cultural lines of Fengshan and the daily lives of the citizens, so that in the following days, although we worked indoors, we can still remember the real vibe of the surrounding city.

 

After walking up to ten thousand steps for the first day, the following two days’ workshops were arranged by four guides. I was the first guide for the morning of the second day. I shared my experience in curating, producing or envisioning public space performance projects for “Prototype Paradise”. Since the basic premise of all the projects was “to work with people with no background in art”, including audiences or cooperators, therefore, I asked the participants to first share with each other their experience of interacting with total strangers. They were then teamed up based on chosen spaces composed of three or more types of “people” in Fengshan or areas along the way from the Hotel to Weiwuying. Each team talked about the things within that area that connects different types of people, and each drew a map of that certain area for others to use when revisiting the place.

 

During the approximately ten-minute brief discussion, there were teams that chose Cheng Huang Taoist (City God) Temple and the Public Retail Market area and used a “wish list” to connect with each other; others picked foraging dogs as main map users. Just in this try-out practice, everyone demonstrated the fun results of interweaving creativity

Another guide is the Assistant Professor of NCTU Graduate Institute of Architecture, LING Tien (凌天), he who invited the instructor of THU Department of Architecture, LEE Ling (李舲), to co-lead the afternoon session “Self-Made Space”. Tien Ling started with his prior curated exhibition works and the visual devices installed in National Taichung Theater last year to demonstrate the deconstruction and reconstruction of city portrays. Followed by the demonstration, he asked the participants to use their cellphones and make some impromptu chained video stories of ten seconds and one minutes long. It went like this: two guides have chosen four locations in and out of Weiwuying to project a one-minute video of Kaohsiung’s cityscape on the wall or an object. After watching the projected videos, each team needs to make a new one-minute video as a response, and after showing the responding video, the team will go to the next location and repeat the same process. Tien Ling also made it a rule that each new responding video must include the original projected image which triggered the response.

 

This relay of layers and layers of meta-images made an interesting fusion and transformation of the static view. Almost all videos made by the participants developed storylines out of the originally bland images; some even used human bodies as a new medium. Tien Ling said that this is also a rendition he rarely sees among architecture students.

 

The guide for the morning of the third day was CHOW Ling-chih, a curator and dramaturg. She used “the narratives of time hubs” as an opening theme to lead us to dig deeper and discuss how people perceive time and space and come up with ways to create encounters under different cultural threads. Ling-chih uses the concept of “flâneur” by Walter Benjamin to illustrate several immersive performances that took places in Taiwan’s daily living spaces. The sharing of the book “Introduction to Observations on the Road” which points out the artists of the 70s jokingly naming useless objects as “Thomasson” also inspired the participants and became the starting point of their ideas for the following two days.

 

When experimenting in teams, Ling-chih invited all teams to first imagine a fictional or true story that re-edits the appearance and meaning of Weiwuying, then by involving the bodily sensations to interpret the space, a new map of Weiwuying is designed. Few teams by coincidence designed a map of the future with the touch of “transcending”, some used the time ruler to demonstrate a child growing up gradually while Weiwuying started constructing. When the construction finished, the child became a fully grown adult. So they designed an abstract travelling map, turning the poster like turning the hour hands of a clock, symbolizing each hour mark as a route for entrance.

 

The guide in the afternoon was Co-Artistic Director of Fist and Cake Production, Fangas Nayaw. Fangas Nayaw turned his childhood experience living in the indigenous Amis tribe into a set of techniques to guide participants through the process of household separation, territory division, social class promotion, and back to the artistic structure of “life performance” and the experience that “even if you’re simply living your life, you are publicly observed”. It was a very unique and personalized theory. Participants teamed up according to their actual age and were assigned as malitengay/ isfiay (elders) or pakarongay (young adults). The young adults inherited the oral dictations from the elders, drew the home boundaries in Weiwuying, and presented recreational activities as offerings to the elders. In this session named “Co-inherits”, everyone co-created a life ritual.

 

All participants quickly appropriated the cultural images and symbols previously perceived by media during the brainstorming session, and when getting serious, everyone turned up to be eloquent and a natural; for example, the nine pillars in front of the opera house became the nine sacred trees, and the construction area on the third floor became where the residents on their traditional territory protested against the consortium construction project. Colored pens being assembled one by one symbolized “rainbow – the dream bridge”, and team members braided their hair to show that they are from the same family.

 

Everyone immersed themselves in the role plays immediately. The scale of the enthusiasm was so high, probably because these rituals were only a step away from or even overlapping their own experiences.

 

The first three days had been packed with all sorts of fun activities, while in the rest of the one and a half days, participants teamed up to come up with performance projects to be presented in a ten minute show-and-tell. The form of the presentation can be oral or by actual performance.

 

At 2 pm on Friday, participants, Weiwuying staff, and audiences attracted by the event, totaling 50 to 60 people gathered at the entrance of the concert hall and started the final presentation of the workshop.

 

The first team gave an oral presentation and displayed their “All You Can Access Pass” project: the creators picked an audience and offered him the access card to the front and back stages. Within the limited 30 minutes, the cardholder can freely access all spaces in Weiwuying while the only condition is that he/she has to write a log afterwards. The concept came from the experiences of team members as they interacted with this massive venue space. Various discussions arose including that during workshops we are allowed to access all areas because of the badges we hold; discussions also included that since artists are privileged in public areas, are there any pros or cons to our own creativity?

 

The creators suggested that the project would last for at least three months. During the rolling negotiation and discussions with venue staff, all parties can mutually explore the issues of authority and boundaries. Team members spent a lot of time coming up with the execution mechanisms that are practical and correlated to the core concept, including who is qualified for the Pass? How may the experience of accessing all areas continue to grow afterwards? How to transform an individual participating experience into the voice of the mass? These are contents that are as important as the fact of “receiving access” itself.

The second team demonstrated their project named “Classics of Weiwuying Mountains and Seas”. The audiences were separated into two groups, one being blind-folded and guided from the ground floor to the opera house platform at the third floor while performers whispered the legends of Weiwuying along the way. When reaching the platform on the third floor, they will hear other similar versions of the stories being told by another performer. The other group of the audience will be observing from outside of the glass doors to see the reaction of the blind-folded audience listening to the stories.

 

“Classics of Weiwuying Mountains and Seas” took good use of the sound insulation effect of the glass doors, so that the audience outside of the opera house can only wait until the doors are opened and ask the other group of audience what they heard. However, on the way out, the audience discovered some seemingly related objects: these ten deities or fairies within bodies of plants, through the spread of words, have found their ways inside the memories of the audience. The members of the second team wanted to discuss the ambiguous relationship between “existence” and “proof” through the interaction between listening and the activity of the mind.

 

The third team chose a place that everyone has the right to access, and has the necessity to access – the public restrooms. This idea originated when the team members observed the public in Weiwuying. Most of the senior high school students studying in the public seating area and the people that came for a walk are all familiar with the restrooms and the way to them. The creators of this team came up with several interactive games that can be installed inside the restrooms, such as when the door is closed, an image of the sunset in Qijin, Kaohsiung will appear, or when the flush button is pressed, there will be the smell of petrol simulating air in the harbor, or symphonic music will be played along the flushing sound. All these seem to open up the door to our five senses.

 

This team made some simple props and a stimulating video for the presentation outside of the restrooms, showing audiences that within this space of both private and public features, they wanted to create for themselves and the strangers who are at the same time and space a humorous interacting opportunity for 30 to 40 seconds (the team members actually tested the time females needed for using the restrooms).

 

The fourth team “Walking Talking” also developed their idea from a 30 second intervention – this time it took place in the elevators. The audience started out from the entrance to the third floor, which is on the ground floor of the playhouse. Here they chose from taking the elevator or the escalator to the third floor. The corner of the elevator and the midsection of the escalator were each equipped with a walkie-talkie. During the ride, a youthful voice suddenly appears from the walkie-talkie and asks “Yu-man brother” questions about life or theater making, then a mature elderly voice uses “young man” as an opening, briefly answering the previously asked questions.

 

When the audience reached the third floor, they saw two men in black at different locations, using walkie-talkies. Judging by the questions and answers between them, we realized that they were producing the voices we just heard. At the end, the two drew closer and closer, eventually sitting at the two ends of the couch and continuing their life conversation with the walkie-talkies. At this moment, the audience’s experience shifted from searching for the sound to focusing on the sight. “Yu-man brother” and “young man” are actually two participants at the two ends of the age spectrum of this workshop. They have revealed their true selves during this performance and as a member of Eureka, I found it to be extra fascinating.

 

The fifth team “Space Under Planning” used the art gallery corridor on the third floor of the concert hall. During the site survey, the members found that even the speaking voice sounded different when heard from the entrance, the mid-way, or at the end of the gallery; therefore they decided to use this interesting acoustic space and explore a new dimension in performance. The audience teamed up roughly in groups of ten, closed their eyes and strolled along the dimmed, curved corridor while one of the performers at the mid-way kept making a repeating sound of metal clashing. At the end of the corridor was another performer gracefully playing a guitar with a simple rhythm. The corridor leads to a lounge area with lots of natural light. The audience relaxingly lay down on the floor with their eyes still closed, experiencing what the staff described as “a state of void” which may cause a humming sound in the ears.

 

Afterwards, the performers woke the audience up, and everyone quietly tracked back along the corridor to where they started. On the way back, we saw the next group of audience with their eyes closed, experiencing the same process we have been through. We also saw that there were numerous origami paper dolls glued to the walls along the corridor – turned out we were never “alone”.­­

 

The presentation of the fifth team created the perfect ending for this approximately two hour long final presentation. It calmed us down and enabled us to use our senses in the purest way.

 

After the workshop, I’ve expressed to some participants that to have this experience without having KPI concerns, and to be able to generate numerous organic discussions with various creators/designers in such a short period of time, was of great value. Participants who joined the Lab in 2018 felt that they have now a better grasp of their options and the use of time. For the participants who joined for the first time, they were excited to see if in the near future, the space might be extended beyond the venue, such as to the bus stops. Some are curious about Weiwuying being the biggest art institution in southern Taiwan, what is it that is hidden from the public but noticed by them?

 

Gwen H.Y. CHANG, Head of International Partnerships of Weiwuying, has stated that these two EUREKA events have brought lots of inspirations and new ideas to them, such as creating “little Eureka” events that are especially for parents and children, or “educational training lab” for staff members. After all, the self-developed system and activities within the public space is formed by all staff members and the public. Weiwuying is also planning to utilize Taiwanese dance platforms and circus platforms to enable artworks to flourish and grow in the public space, and to continuously offer the space for the interaction between three parties: creators, the public and venue operators. Let’s look forward to the third “EUREKA—Creative and Experimental Lab” to lure the not yet tempted, or confront the already stagnated, whether it’s crossing the boundaries of the human heart or of the architecture.

 

上傳圖片

 

 

Artists of Experimental Lab

 

Guide

KUNG Yu-ying (Yoyo)

Director of Prototype Paradise

LING Tien

  Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of

Architecture, National Chiao Tung University

LEE Ling

Architect, Lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Tunghai University and the Graduate Institute of Architecture, National Chiao Tung University

CHOW Ling-chih

Writer, curator, art critic, dramaturg

Fangas Nayaw

Co-Artistic Director of Fist & Cake Production

 

Presentation Artists

First Group

WEN Szu-ni

C-turtle tactic

YEH Pai-shin (Civmirus)

Independent Artist

SU Pin-wen

Artistic Director of KuaBo Dance Theatre

LIN Cheng-tsung

Director of Thunar Circus

Second Group

HSIEH Chieh-hua

Artistic Director of Anarchy Dance Theatre

LIN Huan-ling

Director of Nan-Yi Musical Theater

Joyu LO

Creative Technologist

WANG Ying-chieh

 Erhu Virtuoso / Artistic Director of the

Yunshuyachi Ensemble

YANG Yuan-ching

Vice President of Taiwan Street Arts and Culture Development Association

YANG Shih-hao

Director of Taiwan Circus Gate

CHI Po-hao

ZONE SOUND CREATIVE Founder

Third Group

TSO Han-chieh

Artistic Director of Double & Cross Theater Group

LIN Jhao-an

Scenographer of Antinomy Company

Fan Li-ying

Performing Artist

HSU Kai-hsuan

Street Artist

LIAO Yu-chieh

Assistant Conductor

Fourth Group

YANG Yue

Choreographer of Antinomy Company

Juby CHIU

Costume Designer

LAI Yu-man

Filmmaker

LAI Wei-hsiang

Set & Costume Designer

Fifth Group

CHEN Sin-da

On.P.Young - Director / Str.ACD - President

LI Yun

Director of Antinomy Company

Hank HSU

Director

TSAI Rou-yin

Freelance Artist

CHEN Yu-dien

Director of KING KONE WAVE Production

 

The following artists also participated in Creative and Experimental Lab, but without the presentation.

Performance Lift Me Up Artists

EUREKA Artists

YU Yen-fang

Choreographer

LIN Kai-yu

Scenographer / Set Designer

(A Tempting Night)

HUNG Chien-han

Co-founder of Co-Coism

CHANG Kang-hua

Co-founder of Co-Coism

HUANG Ding-yun

Co-founder of Co-Coism

LIAO Hai-ting

Associate Professor / Ableton Live certified trainer

Reng TSAI

Merlin's Mustache Lab Associate Technical Director

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