CHAOS, COMPUTERS, AND CYBORGS Developing the Art & Technology practices in Taiwan

Coordinator: Yu-Chuan Tseng (Taiwan)
Antoanetta Ivanova (Australia/Taiwan)

The history of Art & Technology practice in Taiwan can be traced back to the late 1970s when the first ‘Laser Promotion Association’ meeting was held in 1977. The aim of the event was to introduce laser art to Taiwan. It was a small, specialized field limited to research and development projects with no public outcome. At that time there were no cultural institutions which would support the exhibition of such art. In 1988 the Taiwan Museum of Art (now National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts) was inaugurated. One of its early exhibitions was “High Technology Art” featuring Kinetic Art, Video Art, Laser Art, Computer Graphics and Cyber Art. In 1990, upon returning from her studies in Japan, one of the most influential Taiwanese cyber artists, Peisuei Lee, staged the exhibition “Computer Art”. In 1992 she published a book also titled Computer Art: a compendium of Peisuei Lee and Yoichiro Kawaguchi’s computer artwork “Fractal”. Through these seminal projects “computer art” was asserted as a legitimate term noting the emergence of the new media art form in Taiwan.

Some of the key mile stones in the development of the Art&Technology field of practice include the 2004 exhibition “NAVIGATOR: Digital Art in the Making”, realized under the auspice of the Cultural and Creative Industries Development Plan’s, Digital Art Promotion Program of the Council for Cultural Affairs, Executive Yuan of Taiwan (now Ministry of Culture). The exhibition introduced trends in Western digital art, showcasing the integration of digital technology and art. The intention of the project was to stimulate the local discussion of digital art within academic and creative circles.

Today the Ministry of Culture and the National Culture and Arts Foundation provide grants for the creation and dissemination of Art & Technology projects. Taiwan’s digital art festival is held every year by the Digital Art Center. In 2012 audiences in Taipei were treated to a wonderful selection of digital media works at the Digital Performing Arts Festival. There is now a third generation of Taiwan artists working with digital media. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated as well as diverse in their approach to Art & Technology practices. However a consolidated cultural policy at government level needs to be developed and implemented if the energy and innovation of Taiwan’s media art creatives is to be sustained.

These local challenges are not dissimilar to other parts of the world where this field of art practice is developing: primarily limited resources, little or inadequate support from major galleries, lack of curatorial expertise; narrow education and research programs; not sufficient public debate and critical review. The Art & Technology White paper on Taiwan will focus on the achievements as well as challenges concerning local practitioners. It is hoped that some concrete recommendations can be made with respect to the development of this field in Taiwan.