WORK   ----  CV ----  REVIEW                                    
        LIU YU

Caecus creaturae.

32’53”  27’37”
Two Channel Sound/Video Installation, color, stereo

Georgo Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702) is a biologist who was employed by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. He designed and built a fortress in Ambon, Indonesia in 1654. He lived in Indonesia for 49 years and died. Rumphius is particularly enthusiastic about plant and shellfish research. His important work "Herbium Amboinense" publishes 1,200 species of plants, including 930 species, which form the biological basis of the Maluku Islands. A large amount of research data left by Rumphius also contributed to Karl indirectly. Carl von Linné's "Binomial Nomenclature" was established in 1753, and even some supporters thought that Linnaeus had stolen his research. This era of great naming has become the beginning of species dataization, and it has evolved into the scientific basis of our understanding of plants and animals. In fact, Rumphius has blinded his eyes at the beginning of his research, but he continues to use imagination to define future.

The film records the islands of Ambon and Banda, which are strongly colonized, emulating the interpretation and linguistics of Rumphius, using the senses of hearing, touch and smell to reproduce the world, and then re-production after interviewing the local experience. The image language, just like the words of GE Rumphius, is also the process of renaming and translating.

32’53”  27’37”

Georgo Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702) 是一位十七世紀受僱於荷屬東印度公司的生物學家,1654年於印尼安汶島(Ambon)設計跟建造堡壘,就此於印尼長住49年以至離世。Rumphius尤其狂熱於植物與貝類研究,其重要著作《Herbium Amboinense》裡發表的植物高達1,200個物種,包含明確命名930種,奠定了印尼馬魯古群島地區的生物基礎。Rumphius留下的大量研究資料也間接促成了卡爾.林奈(Carl von Linné)在1753年建置的「二名法」,甚至有支持者認為是林奈偷了他的研究。這個大命名的時代成了物種資料化的開端,也演變成現在我們認識動植物的科學基礎,事實上,Rumphius在進行研究的初期就已經雙眼失明,但他仍持續的以想像力定義後來我們認知的世界。

影片記錄下安汶與班達島具有強烈殖民色彩的島嶼,其中模擬Rumphius的詮釋與語言學,使用聽覺、觸覺與嗅覺等感知重現世界,透過訪調當地後的經驗後再重新生產下的影像語言,正如同G.E. Rumphius失明的文字,也同時是重新命名與轉譯的過程。


Salvation Mountain 
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.





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。



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   

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 
Single Channel Video Installation, color, 2018


Three Channel Sound/Video Installation, color, stereo
Oral history is a method for collecting historical evidence based on people’s memory. By interviewing the witnesses who personally experienced the historical events in question, it makes the records more comprehensive and believable. However, the interviewees may recount something surreal beyond general understanding according to their personal affections, believes or mental states. In comparison with the systematically compiled "official history", are these invisible or even fictional oral expressions closer to personal real-life experiences?
This is an abandoned mountain town located in the Shuijinjiu area where silvergrassis thick on the ground with high ambient humidity. Since its abandonment in 1979, many people have visited this place with sundry personal reasons. By reference to the interviewees’ dictation, this video seeks to reconstruct their fictional or real-life experiences of the historical, geographical and interpersonal contexts of this place. Since the place becomes an invisible image, it’s not necessary to know the names.






Somehow I feel relaxed here
Single Channel Sound/Video Installation, color, stereo




The ship of fools mooring at the train station
Double Channel Sound/Video Installation, color, stereo

“Ship of Fools” is a literature term derived from Sebastian Brant’s work “Ship of Fool” published in 1949, which depicts a wandering vessel with 111 fools. Each fool represents a kind of secular character or social problem. The allegory soon became popular at the time.

However, the ship of fools did exist.

In 15th century, the deranged passenger on the ship of fools wandered from one city to another, leading a carefree life style. The cities expelled them, so they were allowed to wander in sparsely populated villages, especially in Germany. The water and sailing indicated the most unknown destiny, thousand-branched rivers and endless oceans became the most liberal and open-minded place.

Taipei main station, to many people, is never a place to linger, it’s a node during moving. However, in an aspect that we can’t see (or we don’t want to see), it has become a gathering spot for more than two hundred wandering people who has been expelled by social system voluntarily or reluctantly. Including of unemployed workers, the disabled, or those who have been considered mentally ill. Taipei main station has become the ship of fools, bringing those who are expelled by the society. Decades passed, they’ve become a structured group, with division of works, with hierarchy, with communities, even with their own history. They co-exist with civilization of different eras in a variety of form.

Since 2014, I started to get in touch with the group that has been expelled from society, the group we called homeless people. I initiated many related projects in 2014, however, no one in the end really finished. The reality was out of my imagination. At the beginning I followed a homeless people who lived around my neighborhood, and wrote down my observation everyday, trying to map out the distribution of homeless people in the city. I participated in NGO “Homeless Taipei”, in order to understand the supportive actions taken by those NGOs. I sketched the portraits of homeless people and collecting their personal stories. In the end of this process, I was led to the massive and complicated public space of Taipei Main Station.

With the time I stayed in this territory, the feature of this space gradually changed. I grew my own network in this micro society. Little by little, I realized that it was not the serious patient expelled by society who was to take this ship of fools. It was the division of ideology through some kind of binary value judge. Or to be frank, both you and me are the passenger of the ship of fools.

25‘16 “




台北車站 ,對大多數人來說是一個不曾久留的交通樞紐,一個移動的節點。但在另一個我們看不見的面向(或選擇不看見),這裡聚集了兩百多名自願亦非自願被社會制度流放的流浪者,含括無工作的人、身心障礙的人、或我們稱之有精神疾病的人,台北車站像一艘愚人船一樣承載了這些被社會排除在外的人們,幾十年的時間下來已經成為了具有結構的群體,他們有分工,有位階,有社群,甚至有歷史,在不同時代以各種形式與文明共存。

我從2014年底開始接觸那些在社會藩籬之外的族群 : 我們稱之為流浪漢的人們。從2014年底開始我開始著手許多與之有關的計畫,但誠實的說零零落落的沒有一個能夠完成,因為現實條件總是溢出我所想像之外太多。從一開始跟蹤住家附近的一位流浪漢,並每日進行一些書寫。透過觀察北市的流浪漢來繪製台北市流浪地圖與分佈關係,也曾參與過民間團體芒草心的志工活動,以理解民間採取何種援助姿態介入遊民社會。一邊進行流浪漢人像速寫繪製一邊採集更多人物故事的資訊,最後一連串的過程將我引領到台北車站這個巨大且複雜的公共空間。