Interested in the relationship between animate entities and inanimate objects, Taiwanese artist Chuang Chih-Wei infuses living organisms with the power of machines. After taking artist residency in Japan, Chuang began contemplating the cycle of time and the flow of life in his Reborn Tree Series.
Inspired by “ikebana” (the Japanese art of flower arrangement), which a master told him brought new life to flowers through death, Chuang decided to explore whether he could revitalize an organic form with an inorganic device. The result is a plant that moves like a puppet, rigged with wires and a motor.
The work alludes to both Chinese and Christian creation myths, in which gods conjure human beings from dirt. However, by using electricity and petroleum, rather than divine magic, to instill life to an inanimate object, Chuang memorably updates these ancient myths for the contemporary industrialized era.
This creative project extends exploration of the link between biological and non-biological materials, further observing how external manmade forces guide living things. For this installation, artist arranged for motors to move lines suspended on the plants, manipulating them like puppets, creating slow, refined movements. Through movement crudely imitating life, created by machine operation and changing of time, it gradually expresses a warped elegance both cruel and sad.
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Born in Taichung, Taiwan in 1986, CHUANG Chih-Wei holds an M.S. in Science in Architecture from National Chiao Tung University and an MFA in New Media Arts from Taipei National University of the Arts. With the training in fine arts and architecture, CHUANG excels in creating interactive installations with light and space, which address the relationship between human beings and the environment. Exploring possibilities in cross-disciplinary methodology with an aesthetics that emphasizes both rationality and sensibility has always been a central feature to his works.
CHUANG was selected for the artist-in-residence program at Tokyo Wonder Site in 2014 and the National Taichung Theater in 2019-2020. He was one of the artists showcased in “Made in Taiwan- Young Artist Discovery” by the Ministry of Culture in 2016. He was awarded an Honorable Mention in Taipei Arts Award and was one of the artists selected to take part at Digital Art Festival Taipei in 2015; in addition, he has also been invited to the PyeongChang Biennale, East-Asian Contemporary Art Exhibition “Botanica” (Busan), Taiwan Biennial(Taichung) and Roppongi Art Night (Tokyo). He is currently a lecturer in the Department of New Media Art of Taipei National University of the Arts.
This project is kindly supported by Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab.