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The Technology Made “Unrestricted” —The Mobilization and Integration as Adopted in A World: If, a Family Trip (2022)

A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) in exhibition The Unrestricted Society. Photo © C-LAB
CREATORSHer Lab SpaceThe Unrestricted Society

A World: If, a Family Trip (2022), the theater performance without actors taking place in the last two days of the exhibition The Unrestricted Society at Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB), is a co-creation by Her Lab Space between its two members AU Sow-Yee and CHEN Yow-Ruu. Developed from their earlier If, a Final Chapter for a Family Trip which was supported by C-LAB through the 2020 CREATORS Creation/Research Support Program, the 2022 version is one of the five extensions within the two years, which also include the performances If, a Final Chapter for a Family Trip: Dreams of a Cave Wolf, Exile of a Wild Boar (2020) at CREATORS  open studio, If, a Family Trip: A World (2021) at Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre, If, a Final Chapter for a Family Trip: Family Trip No. 1 (2021) as part of the exhibition Signals: CREATORS 2020–21, and the online If, a Family Trip: IAFT Gather Garden(2021).

The serial project integrating multi-site fieldwork, research, writing, video, and sonic experiments produce intermedial artworks which are finalized via different forms. However, if the ever-present “problématique” throughout The Unrestricted Society touches upon “the use of technology to create new and different aesthetic experiences,” how can A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) respond to it and bring it into practice?

The performance If, a Final Chapter for a Family Trip: Family Trip No. 1 in exhibition Signals: CREATORS 2020–21. Photo © C-LAB
The installation view of Her Lab Space in the open studio of 2020 CREATORS Creation/Research Support Program. Photo © C-LAB

The Integration of Multi-Channel Texts

The long and narrow pathway into the performance space is similar to the mysterious cave CHEN Yow-Ruu has visited in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, while the prowling tiger sealed on the projection screen is reminiscent of the old tiger fossil which AU Sow-Yee saw at Jinlong Cave in Malaysia. The multiple texts of war, memories, and physical senses are interwoven to create an acousmatic sonic experience. In fact, “acousmatics” came from a teaching method of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras in his oral lectures, where his pupils (listeners) were asked to sit behind the screen without being given any visual information such as the mouth shapes or facial expressions of the lecturer. As the sound was separated from its sources, the vocal expression and accent in the speech became the only means for the listeners behind the screen to learn and perceive. Similarly, the performance space of A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) is surrounded by projection screens and monitors, and the sources of sound, the 49.4 channel speaker array featured in C-LAB Taiwan Sound Lab (TSL), comes from behind the carriers of the image.

A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) in exhibition The Unrestricted Society. Photo © C-LAB

In my observatory report on the initial work in C-LAB’s CREATORS program, I have discussed how cave art serves as an information channel of externalized cross-modality and thus proposed the concept of “resonant cavity.” 1 If the term “unrestricted” can be defined as “to mobilize every possible technological means for a full realization,” then the myriad materials of historical texts, sound, light, video, fog, and objects in A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) go beyond a dispositif in artmaking: with an active and eager participation of technology, the realm of art now requires a comprehensive “mobilization” to call up every possible technological means. The idea of “worlding” proposed by the artists thus involves the art and technique of “integration.” No matter it is a joint of time in history or of space in geography, the use of “integration” in A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) can be interpreted from two aspects: the basic is an inward integration of multi-media and multi-modal messages within the boundary of the artwork itself, while there are also the five variations of the ongoing project as a technical response to the different channels of display to aim beyond the “restrictions.”

The installation view of performance A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) in exhibition The Unrestricted Society. Photo © C-LAB

Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s just one world—as the phrase repeats throughout the performance.

From the alternative space, exhibition space, theatre space, the online “Gather Town,” to TSL featuring high-tech equipment, the journey of five different “stops” does not constitute a linear “development-in-progress,” but a series of artistic variations generated by different spaces and technologies. The use of space, TSL in this case, is presumably based on the curatorial concept to “create new and different aesthetic experiences via technology,” but whether it guarantees the possibility of technology to fully and effectively support the art to act “unrestrictedly” is still indetermined. If the integration of the multi-channel texts has shown a clear trace throughout the artistic journey of the creation, how can the equipment of an ultra-tech hardware system further mobilize and deploy all senses and perceptions to make them “unrestricted?”

“Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s just one world”2 —as the phrase repeats throughout the performance, A World: If, a Family Trip (2022) taking place at the end of The Unrestricted Society is like a closing ceremony in terms of the temporal-spatial structure of the whole exhibition and thus subtly unveils a reversed logic: let us “kid” ourselves, so there will always be more than one “world,” followed by its endless repetitions and variations.

CREATORSHer Lab SpaceThe Unrestricted Society
Yizai SEAH, “2020 CREATORS「江之翠劇場」與「她的實驗室空間集」的觀察報告” (An Observatory Report on Works by Gang-a Tsui Theater and Her Lab Space in 2020 CREATORS Program), CLABO, 2021.03.08.
It is a quotation from the novel Flights by the Polish writer Olga TOKARCZUK.
Yizai SEAHArt Critic, Reviewing Observer for 2019-2021 CREATORS Creation/Research Support Program
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