Yuan Goang-Ming: “Everyday War”

Taipei Fine Arts Museum of Taiwan presents the Collateral Event Yuan Goang-Ming: Everyday War at the 60th International Venice Biennale, to be held at the Palazzo delle Prigioni. This year’s exhibition is presented by pioneering Taiwanese video artist Yuan Goang-Ming and curated by Chinese-American curator Abby Chen. Responding to this year’s curatorial theme, Stranieri Ovunque—Foreigners Everywhere, the exhibition will depict the doubts and unrest hidden beneath our beautiful world as a metaphor for the inherent state of loss human feel in constant displacement, with nowhere to truly belong.

New works
The exhibition’s eponymous piece, Everyday War, continues the artist’s exploration of the unpredictability and instability present in everyday life. Beneath the idyllic facade of a middle-class home, unknown attacks destroy the entire room, leaving it in ruins in the aftermath of war before slowly returning to its peaceful state. The artist employs a self-developed single-axis “motion control system” with precise programming control. Using high-speed cameras filming multiple shots in a live size set at 240 frames per second, the scenes and fragments are added together and combined in post-production using 3D scanning and modeling.

His other new piece, titled Flat World, utilizes images from Google Street View’s database. Using AI technology to search for images on Google and conduct other forms of research, the artist finds similar street views from around the world then connects them together—forming an ongoing loop of landscapes. This piece resembles a new “road movie” created through internet computing techniques with the artist questioning the ever-chang- ing relationships between people and place under globalization through technology.

Classic works
In Everyday Maneuver, Yuan Goang-Ming uses five drones simultaneously positioned directly above the five main roads of Taipei City. Through surveillance cameras, he records the “Wanan Air Defense Drill”—a series of annual air defense drills that have been conducted in Taiwan since 1978, even after the lifting of martial law in 1987. The empty city, like a movie scene, is a metaphor for geopolitical instability and threats.

Dwelling is one of the artist’s most iconic video works. The title of the piece is derived from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, referencing a poem by Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin in 1951. In “Dwelling”, Yuan Goang-Ming constructs a utopic living room setting, theatrically amplifying unexpected explosions and playing them in reverse. Through this loop of images, the artist forces viewers to confront their inner anxieties and worries about the loss of a secure home, embodying the cyclical nature of destruction and hope.

The 561st Hour of Occupation was filmed by Yuan Goang-Ming in response to an invitation from students, documenting the 2014 Sunflower Student Movement in Taiwan. During the nearly month-long occupation of the Legislative Yuan, the legislative chamber became a temporary shelter for participants students who sought a better future for their homeland by politically representing themselves.

Yuan Goang-Ming states “from the dining table as a premonition of symbolic collapse, civil movements, ongoing defense drills after the lifting of martial law, and the ‘non-place’ under globalization, to various domestic scenes—all of these attempts to express the anxieties and unease of the complex world we live in. Looking back at my early video works, the core themes of this solo exhibition, it seems they form a seamless cycle that returns to its origin.”

Abby Chen further emphasizes that in this era where impermanence is the norm, “the artist continuously explores what it means to exist, to be alive, to be at peace, to be safe, to be free, and what it means to be poetic.” However, these questions also reflect Yuan Goang-Ming’s deeper impenetrable inner landscape. It is the poetic desire in his heart that allows individuals to find “a realm of freedom, an exclusive place in the wilderness, where an individu- al’s essence can remain at peace with unchanging freedom.”