WORK   ----  CV ----  PREVIEW                                    
        LIU YU



Salvation Mountain 
2018
23’54”
Three Channel Sound/Video Installation, color, stereo


The history of the concave and the convex

Concave and convex are like two sides of the same mirror, seemingly contradictory yet complementary.


Around 160 years ago, there rose a gold rush in the west of the U.S. To meet the demands of development and mining, Chinese labors were sent to the sites, away from home one group after another, building linear settlements on the dry continent out of thin air. As the gold mine went depleted in just decades, these labors hit the road again, part of whom came to Taiwan eventually, trying to get by in the modernized railway construction in the late Qing Dynasty. Those who knew gold panning technique found sand gold while building an iron bridge, and set in motion a fever for gold mining in the regions of Jinguashi and Jiufen along the way. The history repeats itself, nevertheless, as “Dacukeng”, the once prosperous mining settlement, was also gone in the wind after the depletion of gold vein in the 70s of the twentieth century. The ghost towns in the west of USA and the ruins in Jinguashi and Jiufen of Taiwan are bound together across the differences in culture and times by the yearning for gold mine. This solo exhibition of Liu Yu, The history of the concave and the convex, is thus born as a result. The artist unveils the hidden pages in history through the people, bits and pieces left behind, in an attempt to carve out the “equivalent” that strings up the yearns.


The solo exhibition of Liu Yu this time consists of two 3-channel videos, two interview footages, a series of private collections, and a booklet. The exhibition’s narrative embarks from the United States, following the ghost towns left behind by the gold rush in the West in the 19th century, all the way to the rise and fall of the mining settlement in Jinguashi and Jiufen of Taiwan in 20th century. There is a timeline in the exhibition, which is not a chronologically straight line, however. Instead, it is more of a sewing thread in an attempt to connect bits and pieces of memories in the American West and Taiwan. The fragments of these memories are embedded on the minds of the wanderers on the roadside, savages in the mountains, residents remaining in the ghost towns, and the descendants after the village has perished. Liu Yu made efforts capturing these traces that will fade away in time. The booklet in the exhibition is like a book of long footnotes, being not only an information supplement regarding the people, things, and objects in the videos, but a profiling along Liu’s process of creation.



The video The Stone Player filmed a tramp sitting on the beach of Santa Monica, dedicated to the arrangement of the stones in front. Even when the artist approached, trying to have a conversation, there was barely anything that could be called as such. His simple and repetitive behavior demonstrated that these stones in different sizes meant much to him. His dedication is the beginning of all narratives, shedding light to the interrelationship between Man and objects across time. Next, Salvation Mountain, a sophisticated 3-channel video that utilized drones, floor projection, and animations, comes into view. Displaying the enormity of mine pit and the desolation of ghost towns with vast projection on one hand while altering the physical experience of the audience that enter the space with floor projection on the other, the visual effect manifests the immensity of the American continent and implies the former glory the ghost towns used to enjoy, and that although mining can drastically change the landscape, the picture of white snow covers all these man-made traces. There are three figures in the only animation with conversation in the same set of works: a pioneer, a bus traveler, and a drone. These three movers from different times and with different agendas reveal some clues to the people come and go on these territories, so as to allow audience to get close to the history, whereas the ghostly conversation of these three voices foreshadows the films that follow.



There comes the section where the story of Jinguashi and Jiufen is told. Nameless combines gauze screen projection and two screens, subtly echoing the worlds of yin and yang in the film via the textures of the mediums being projected onto. The abandoned mine pit at Dacukeng is not as desolate as the ghost towns in the American West. There is still a mountain savage nicknamed as village head in the abandoned building watching over, and the apparitions guarding the pit will summon their subjects to pay respects from time to time. Compared to the confessions made by the three fictitious characters in the animation earlier, the figures and audience of Nameless and Notes on the Stones belong to the same space-time. Their obsessions with “object” are more authentic. Through the collection and the interpretation of the work, people’s emotions and projections toward objects are vividly exposed. Such emotional projection becomes yet another clue in the exhibition: despite of the difference in the things pursued, people prone to have hope for the good things in their own imagination. Be it the people ventured into the wild west for gold over a hundred years ago or the laborers leaving their home behind, fighting for a higher pay, or even the common folks nowadays that collect stones and drift woods, the forms may change on the outside every now and then, but the idea of “trying to possess” remains the same on the inside.



The Chinese characters for “Concave” and “Convex” in the title The History of the Concave and the Convex appear in opposite shapes. Yet, they are interrelated or even complementary to each other, illustrating the tight connection in between these seemingly unrelated locations, people, events, and objects. The behavior of humans bestows unique meaning upon certain ores in the Nature. Such act of bestowing gives rise to pursuits of all sorts. The History of Concave and Convex is the very project that unfolds around these “traces” left behind by the pursuits. It is an observation on sections of time from diverse angles as well as a skeptical inquiry into those taken for granted.




















凹凸史



凹凸兩面,猶如正反,看似相反,實為互相。


距今約160年前,美國西部掀起了一股淘金熱,為了因應開發和採礦的需求,一批批離鄉背井的華人苦力被送往勞動現場,在乾燥大陸上憑空建起了帶狀聚落,短短數十年隨著金礦挖盡,這些勞動力又再度漂泊,部分輾轉來到台灣,在清末現代化的鐵路工程中企圖餬口飯吃,其中深諳淘金技術的,在修築鐵橋時發現河中沙金,溯金過程裡掀起了金九地區的採礦熱潮。然而歷史不斷重演,「大粗坑」這個繁華一時的採礦聚落,也在二十世紀的七零年代礦脈乾涸後滅村。美西鬼鎮和台灣金九地區的廢墟,穿越文化與時代的差異,被追尋金礦的慾望連結在一起,建構成這次劉玗個展「凹凸史」,透過被遺留下的人、事、物,藝術家抽絲剝繭探究正史未載的一面,也企圖形塑貫穿這些慾望的「等價物」。


本次劉玗個展由兩組三頻道錄像、兩隻人物採訪影片、一系列素人收藏品,以及一本小書構成。展覽敘事從美國開始,沿著19世紀西部淘金熱潮留下的鬼鎮,輾轉連結到台灣金九地區近代礦業聚落的興衰史。展覽有一條時間軸,但它並不是一條循序的直線,反而像是穿梭於美西、台灣兩地,試圖串起細碎記憶的縫線,這些記憶的碎片鑲嵌在路邊流浪漢、山中野人、鬼鎮遺留居民、滅村後代這些人物的腦海裡,劉玗在這些痕跡即將伴隨時間逐漸消失殆盡之前盡力捕捉,展場的小書像是一本長長的註釋,一方面對影片裡出現的人、事、物進行資訊補充,一方面也是劉玗創作過程當中的人物速寫。



影片《玩石頭的人》拍攝的是一個坐在Santa Monica海灘的流浪漢,認真地排列自己眼前的石頭,即便藝術家企圖上前攀談,也留不下幾句稱得上對話的內容。他純粹又反覆的行為說明這些大小不一的石頭對他深具意義,他的專注是所有敘事的開端,點出了跨越時空、屬於人與物之間的交織。緊接著動用空拍機、對地投影和動畫影片等高度製作的三頻道錄像《Salvation Mountain》登場,一邊以大幅投影顯露礦坑的巨大和鬼鎮的荒涼,一邊又用對地投影改變走入場內的觀眾的身體感,視覺效果凸顯了美洲大陸的廣漠,同時也隱射鬼鎮曾經的繁榮,而挖礦雖足以大幅改變地景,但白皚皚的雪景又覆蓋了這些人為的痕跡。同一組作品中唯一有對話的動畫裡有三個人物:拓荒者、巴士旅人和空拍機,三個來自不同時空,具有不同目的的移動者,給予曾在這段土地上來去的人物一些線索,讓觀眾得以貼近這段歷史,而這三個聲音幽魂般的對話,也為接下來的影片埋下伏筆。



進入訴說金九地區故事的區塊,《名字不為人所知》結合浮空紗網的投影和兩台螢幕,藉由投影媒介的虛實,隱約呼應影片內容的陰陽兩界,礦坑廢墟大粗坑不似美西鬼鎮般荒涼,廢棄的建築物裡仍有被暱稱為村長的山中野人看守著,而駐守於礦坑的神鬼,也時不時召喚著他們的子民前往請安。相對於稍早動畫影片中三個虛構角色的自白,《名字不為人所知》和《石頭幾則》裡的人物和觀眾屬於同一個時空,他們對「物」的意念也更為真實,透過收藏或創作的詮釋,人對物產生的情感與投射顯得一覽無遺。這種情感投射成為展覽的另一條線索:雖然追求的東西各自不同,但人總是對想像中的美好懷抱希冀。不論是百年多前,為了淘金而積極前往西部拓荒的人們,或是為了追求更高工資、離鄉背景打拼的苦力,甚至到現在,常民收藏石頭、收藏流木的行為等,形式或許不斷轉換,但「試圖擁有」的想法卻是一樣的。



「凹凸史」的凹跟凸,看起來是相反的形狀,其實又互相關聯、甚至互補,說明了這些地點、人物、事件、物件之間看似毫無關係,其實又環環相扣的狀態。因為人的行為,賦予了自然界當中某種礦石特殊的意義,這樣的欽點推波了各種追尋,而「凹凸史」就是圍繞著這些追尋所留下的「痕跡」而展開的計畫,是一次對時間切片不同角度的觀看,也是不願遷就於那些被視為理所當然的一種提問。












The history of the concave and the convex

A book by LIU Yu
Edited and proof-read by Zoe YEH and WU Sih-Chin
Translated by WU Nai-fe
Designed by Shauba CHANG




Notes on Stones   
2018

Philosopher’s Stone, Courtesy of Lai Zhi-Xian, collected since 1998
Stone Series, Wu Wen-Xiong, 2008
Flotsam Series, Wu Wen-Xiong, 2013
Coral Series, Wu Wen-Xiong, 2016
Minerals, Courtesy of Lin Jing-Long, collected since 2018






The Stone Player 
2018
04’22”
Single Channel Video Installation, color, 2018

















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Mark