Text by Yen Yi Lee / curator
Upon entering and start interacting with the digital environment, we are required to set up a user account, for which one gets to pick one’s username and select labels according to one’s identity, temporarily putting aside statuses in real life. The freedom to login begins when one’s account is named, which can subsequently be de-leted, modified, edited, reset or left unused. We define ourselves in the virtual world, drawing up the bounda-ries and choosing to enter a different world.
As digital data application develops in our life, in order to speed up the complicated and labor-intensive identi-fication processes, facial recognition systems have been introduced as an integral instrument that assists us in sending and acknowledging requests of data groups (you and I) by gaining and analyzing backend data based on operation setups to grant permissions. One must first be identified to enter, otherwise one’s translated data could not be analyzed. Disregard and the right to access are interrelate—existing but unseen means one’s re-quests are no longer important.
Inclusivity is a resistance strategy related to algorithmic prejudices as well as a crucial and fundamental work in database construction. Comparing to the circumstances today, however, as we positively create inclusivity of databases, we also need to face the reality of aggravating social discrimination, police violence, judicial injus-tice in the mixed environment of virtuality and reality. The key here is how to construct and deconstruct our digital environment at the same time. Collecting more Black facial recognition data is simply not the solution to the problem of discrimination as the original design and application could instead become a weapon that aids racial discrimination.(1) Perhaps, to deconstruct technological discriminality by starting with the history of image could better help us identify the prejudices of image.
As a “reactive” martial art, Jeet Kune Do waits for the opponent’s imminent attack to make interception by ob-serving the opponent’s ideas and attacks, making interceptive counterattacks based on reaction, suppression and the physical body. If we were to understand Jeet Kune Do as three steps – observation, reaction and action – “observation” would be the very first step that triggers a subsequent series of events. The observation per-spective in Musquiqui Chihying’s work seems to originate from humorous encounters, from which the artist develops intriguing games. They sometimes are revealed in his reinterpretations, converted through various lit-erary tropes and schemes involving language, translation, wordplay and punning, or caught up in the frictions between image and narrative to produce a transitioning rhythm of historical narrative.
There Are Lights That Never Go Out is inspired by the Mandarin title of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, which engages in the deconstruction and a dialectic process based on objects, photographic technologies, image history and the generative network of digital image apart from discussing the power relation between a photog-rapher and his photographic subject. Objects and stories, when we see or learn about them, all carry full yet fragmented narratives. As the artist makes his observations, he also decides on his angle to carry out his re-search; like pulling an end of a thread strongly, the whole structure of a piece of fabric then becomes ruffled and shown. By reinterpreting images, creating drawings that imitate machine-made prints and conducting a lec-ture performance, the artist presents narrative remake and reconstruction through his research of image.
Oddities and humor in all narratives are taking place at the same time, and the decisions that everyone makes comprise the main narratives arcs. Then, the foremost question after establishing the importance of individual world-making (2) is: what actions will you take?
This exhibition is the outcome of Musquiqui Chihying winning the 2019 Han Nefkens Foundation – LOOP Video Art Award in collaboration with Fundació Joan Miró (Barcelona) and is supported by MoCA TAIPEI, Art Sonje Center (Seoul), Inside-Out Art Museum (Beijing) and Ilham (Kuala Lumpur).
1. Hill, K. (2020, August 3). Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm. The New York Times.
2. Epstein, M. (2013). The Art of World-Making. Philosophy Now.
https://philosophynow.org/issues/95/The_Art_of_World-MakingComparing the history of cinematic narrative evolution and the current development of immersive virtual reality technologies, the author tells us that the distance between metaphysics and technological development has been gradually narrowing since their discussions about existence and practi-cality. He therefore proposes “technosophia,” otherwise known as “philosophically-oriented technology,” as the first principle that combines think-ing and practicality in a humanmade world mixed with virtuality and reality.
1. Facing the Sun, or On Colored Algorithms
2. What Refusals Do We Have?