Fou Gallery is pleased to announce that Taiwanese multi-disciplinary artist Hsin-Chien Huang debuted his first solo show in the United States at Pratt Manhattan Gallery from September 23, 2022, to March 4, 2023. The exhibition, Hsin-Chien Huang: The Data We Called Home, remaps Taiwanese folklore, the ethics of digital surveillance, space exploration, and the body-mind dichotomy across different media and features a seminal collaboration with artist Laurie Anderson. The exhibition highlights the broad scope of Huang’s complex body of work, featuring virtual reality films, sculptures, and videos presenting new perspectives on the immersive possibilities of mixed media art practices.
The show centres four large-scale virtual reality journeys (Samsara, 2021, Bodyless, 2019, To the Moon, 2018 and Chalkroom, 2017), alongside stainless steel sculptures and 3-D prints. The multimedia installations invite viewers to immerse themselves in the otherworldly spaces, stories, and forms reimagined by Hsin-Chien Huang. In these virtual realities, bodies are porous, chronologies are nonlinear, and environments become dystopian dreamscapes.
One of the exhibition highlights is Huang’s award-winning VR installation, Samsara. This project takes the viewer on a dream-like journey to the not-too-distant future when resources on Earth have been depleted and humans are forced to find a new home. The installation is an experiment based on the concept of “Embodied Cognition.” Only when we experience the world in different bodies may we truly appreciate the thoughts of others, empathise with them, and harmoniously comprehend our existence. Having already drawn critical attention, Samsara was selected for the 78th Venice VR Film Festival and won the Jury Award of the SXSW and Best VR Story of the Cannes XR competition.
The other two VR projects in the show are collaborative works by Hsin-Chien Huang and Laurie Anderson. To the Moon (2018), originally commissioned by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, made its US premiere at the Museum of Natural History, timed to the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The artist duo reconceptualizes the moon in six segments, using images and tropes from Greek mythology, literature, science, and sci-fi space movies. The viewer is able to explore the surface of the new moon, glide through space debris, and fly through DNA skeletons of dinosaurs. Another large-scale VR installation, Chalkroom, 2017, features eight unique rooms with chalkboards emerging as a vast labyrinth. In this alternate reality, viewers are guided by co-creator Laurie Anderson’s voice through a sensorial landscape. Abstract symbols are converted into concrete, interactive, physical presences, allowing the audience to explore the connections between written words and memories. Chalkroom was awarded Best VR Experience at the 74th Venice Film Festival and was the first of several VR works that Huang and Anderson created together.
Three stainless steel sculptures titled “YUN-KUNG” sculpture series accompany the VR journey. Through these, Huang references historical Buddha statues and reframes them by stripping them of their humanity and turning them into robot-like creatures in high-tech armor, floating motionless in space.
The exhibit includes Huang’s standalone series of 3-D prints, Sculptures of Touch (2020). For these, the artist devised a digital system that would record his touch upon once untouchable martial law public objects such as barricades, bunkers, and monuments that remain in Taipei. The hand-traced objects were then re-visualized as images and 3D printed objects. Through these new sculptures, the artist explores “body memory” and the body’s physical performances and connections with history, art, and technology.
Through the union of the fictional and real worlds, artist Hsin-Chien Huang aims to showcase the original metaverse ecology from Taiwan in this exhibition. It displays the state of new media art in Asia today and provides a tangible example of the region’s prowess in developing immersive VR experiences.
About the artist
Hsin-Chien Huang is a new media artist adept at combining VR, interactive installations, performing arts, and machinery to explore greater possibilities for human life through technology. His career endeavor explores the possibilities of cutting-edge technologies in art, literature, design, and stage performance. His projects involve large-scale interdisciplinary interaction, performing, mechanical apparatus, algorithmic computations, and video installations. While being a distinguished professor at the Design Department of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), Huang is committed to interdisciplinary collaborative STEAM education and publication. In recent years, Huang’s revolutionary VR works have attracted international attention and won a variety of awards. His VR feature film La Camera Insabbiata | Chalkroom (2017), made in collaboration with Laurie Anderson, won the Best VR Experience Award at the 74th Venice Film Festival. Bodyless (2020) won an Honorable Mention at the 2020 Ars Electronica Festival (Linz, Austria) and the Golden Mask, the highest honor, at the Newimages Festival (Paris, France). His outstanding international performance continued, when his new work Samsara (2021) won the Jury Award at the Texas South by Southwest Festival (Austin, U.S.A.), Grand Prize for the Best VR Narrative in the XR category at the Cannes Film Market in France and Honorary Mention in the Computer Animation category at Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria). Huang’s work has been exhibited in solo or group exhibitions at important international institutions, including Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C., 2022), Aichi Triennale (2022), Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University (Houston, 2022), American Museum of Natural History (New York, 2019), Modern Art Base Shanghai (2019), MASS MoCA (2019), National Fine Art Museum (Taipei, 2017), ZKM Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2017), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk, Denmark, 2017), Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York, U.S.A., 2015). In 2022, Pratt Manhattan Gallery presented Huang’s first solo survey in the U.S.A. – The Data We Called Home.