Millennium Ginseng Project


Video installation

The consumption of ginseng in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is believed to connote the supplement Jing Qi (Chinese 精氣 jing/ essence and qi/vitality) as ginseng grows in a harsh, natural environment and takes the shape of a man’s body.

The conceptualization of “qi” is considered to be consumed more than consumption of the material itself. Long-lived wild ginseng, in particular, is deemed as anti-ageing. Due to the belief system of TCM, people think that wild ginseng is more powerful than its cultivated counterpart.

This has caused illegal harvesting and led to wild ginseng becoming endangered in North America and East Asia. A serious conflict between ‘biodiversity’, contemporary thinking of ecological conservation and the cultural value of traditional Asian medicine arises. The Millennium Ginseng Project aims to find ways to resolve this complicated situation between global modernity and Asian tradition.

Artist Kuang-Yi Ku collaborated with scientists to design a series of new cultivated ginsengs which are conceptually and culturally much stronger than the wild version. This new ginseng will become a ‘hybrid-medicine’ combining western science and TCM. Based on the various applications of science and technology, this project has three parts: ‘Extreme Greenhouse’, ‘Moon Ginseng’ and ‘Time Machine Farm’.

© Gregoire EDOUARD
© Gregoire EDOUARD
© Gregoire EDOUARD

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KU Kuang-Yi (TWN)

Kuang-Yi Ku was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and has been based in the Netherlands since 2016. He graduated with triple master degrees in social design from Design Academy Eindhoven; in dentistry from National Yang-Ming University; and in Communication Design from Shih Chien University.

Formerly a dentist, Kuang-Yi Ku is a bio-artist and social designer. He founded TW BioArt (a Taiwan bioart community) to stimulate the fields of BioArt and Science + Art in Taiwan. His works often deal with the human body, sexuality, interspecies interactions, and medical technology, and aim to investigate the relationships among technology, individuals, and the environment.

Kuang-Yi Ku’s “Tiger Penis Project” was awarded the 2018 Gijs Bakker Award, the annual prize for the best project by a graduating master’s student in Design Academy Eindhoven. He also won First Prize in the Taipei Digital Art Awards in 2015 with “The Fellation Modification Project,” in which body modification, gender studies, queer theory, and dentistry all come together.

Credits & mentions

This project is kindly supported by Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab.