交陪_4_6

時間───2015年8月13日
受訪人───陳俊宇、倪祥、邱子晏
參訪人───龔卓軍、羅文岑、陳冠彰、林雅雯
地點───方惠光工作室
整理───陳飛豪
翻譯───吳泠涓、王莉雰

陳俊宇:結合生活的詼諧思考

我的作品多結合生活的觀察與想像,譬如我曾製作一部錄像,拍攝選舉時林立的旗幟,那些旗幟上的候選人的臉都笑得很僵,風吹動旗幟時,就像他們一直在變臉般,我再利用錄像抽影格的效果,讓影片中的候選人不自然抽搐地變臉。畢業前我也做過一只會唱歌的青花瓷瓶,讓它吟唱自己去貿易流浪的故事。還有我做了一個裝置叫《天使們》,那裝置包含著一臺體重機以及上方一支感應的圓形燈管,當人站上體重機時,指針會移動又瞬間歸零,同時間燈會亮起,就像是天使的光環般,就像是瞬間成佛的樣子。我的作品都有種生活結合詼諧的思考,此次也是相同的,但我與倪祥、邱子晏三人以廟方宗教文化結合創作則是第一次。
靈山聖道院位於屏東縣車城鄉,因為我家人如果事業上有些問題就會到靈山聖道院去尋求諮商,也因此認識了廟方的主持。一開始靈山聖道院小小一間,慢慢的一層一層地往上蓋,成了今天的規模。這間廟的建築形式聽說是建築師與濟公附身的乩童共同討論出來的,不同於傳統閩式的寺廟建築,而是像日式洋樓般的分層建築。廟方提到雖然他們所在的位置是在屏東四重溪風景區,但信徒與觀光客都鮮少進到靈山聖道院。他們希望我們可以想些方法去活化當地,例如舉辦活動或夏令營等等。
2013年倪祥在耿畫廊的「NG的羅曼史」展覽結束後,有批大型雕塑作品沒地方放,我提議倪祥將作品放到我家前面的草地,就這樣放了快半年,而且比在耿畫廊好看。那些作品當中有一件是一尊佛頭,剛好住持來我家與我爸討論事情時看到了這些作品,就與我商量是否可以將作品放到靈山聖道院。他們思考其實很簡單,像駁二藝術特區放了許多大型雕塑來吸引觀光客,那廟內如果放些大型雕塑也能吸引到觀光客。因此我們開始與他們進行當代藝術與廟方結合,依此來創造不同的文化地景。
一開始我們去場勘時,細看廟方施工上從油漆到畫作都有些問題,譬如應該要很有力量的老虎卻畫得很像軟腳貓一樣,如同是一間集合了現代問題於一身的後現代拼貼廟宇。建築本體使用了在臺灣常見的RC水泥建築,與傳統廟方的施作比較起來,成形快、經濟實惠,耐地震、颱風很穩健,但也表示著所有傳統工法都被去除掉了。此外,很多內部的石雕都是大陸買來的,當然在成本和時程為第一考量的情況下,對於藝術性的部分就可想而知了。而比較有趣的一點,臺灣的廟方其實跟中國大陸的連結非常深,譬如廟方跟中國的某間廟如締結為兄弟廟或是彼此有私交,他們就會互相分享資源,從訂購各種祭祀材料的貨源到介紹建築工匠或設計廟宇的師傅等。但說實在話,他們從中國購買回來的貨源或是工匠的手藝通常都較為次級。譬如說,你會看到有些石雕雕刻到一半,但看不到的地方就不打了,這時就會看到兩岸在工藝上的精巧程度差異。
「小嫩豬」樂團則是我與倪祥等人(團員還有:曾伯豪、蘇育賢、陳姿雅)所執行的另一個計畫,那時目標就設定要打入獨立音樂圈,同時間要成為最爛但最厲害的樂團。我指的「厲害」是指人家無法複製你,譬如說簡單的龐克或是其他類型音樂其實非常容易被複製,一般常見的樂團表演,那種copy paste的類型音樂其實也很好聽,但就不是我要的。我們想表現出的是別人看起來很「爛」,但卻不是實際上的「爛」,是有著精神上無法被複製的「爛」,也因此才有很厲害的感覺。這計畫就像是接近垃圾的邊緣,但是又從邊緣回返到很奇怪的位置,思考著我們的表演能與生活的「本然狀態」間有種連結,且這種連結或許會被認為是某種「前衛」。本來小嫩豬只打算做MV,表演是為了練功,後來發現表演可以把一切的「騷擾」(最近發展的主題)與「爛」給合理化,應該是一開始沒有預料到的事。

倪祥:眾生喧嘩的宗教遊樂場

我的創作常會是從某個地方撿拾而來的現成物開始,中間經過各種不同場域的洗禮,諸如學校的展演場所、美術館、商業畫廊或替代性空間等,之後再回到原來的場域。這些物件經由多層的意義轉換後,又會回到原來的終點,譬如說,在商業藝廊展出時它們一度有可能會變成某個藏家的收藏品(事實上機會渺茫),在美術館自然會被公認為藝術創作,對這些物件而言,它們所經歷過的一切有可能是當初的製造者所始料未及的。我覺得這些物件也因為我身為創作者的關係,而被社會賦予了另一層意義,在某些方面,這可能也是種機緣或是佛祖所賜與的緣分。
其實我還滿在意「合理性」的問題,但都是透過比較簡單或是直覺性的邏輯,比方說維納斯雕像的手被切掉,那祂是不是應該也要噴血?又或者許願池上是不是應該要有棵搖錢樹?有次我跟我朋友在佛光山聊天,我們就講到為什麼佛光山的佛祖要做的那麼大尊?某方面是展現了他們宗教組織背後的雄厚財力,但我覺得最大的原因是缺乏想像力,因為他們無法設計出有趣的佛像,只好做得大尊一點來譁眾取寵。我們曾經對佛像有著一些比較趣味性的想像,像是未來的寺廟可以有一尊超大的釋迦摩尼佛或其他神像,然後祂周圍就放置一百零八個捐獻箱,信眾投錢進去,它會發出不同音階的聲音,這時信眾就是VJ,可以照著音階來投錢,當香油錢超過一萬塊時,就會有「砰!」的一聲,同時投射燈也發射出來。如果今天捐獻十萬塊,神像就會點頭,還會放音樂,但如果捐獻的人不夠多,佛祖的眼睛就會發射紅光,瞪著廟寺內的和尚跟尼姑,提醒他們應該要好好做事,甚至搖頭都可以。這些想法雖然聽起來有點荒謬而且天馬行空,但我認為在合理範圍下,臺灣的民間信仰未來一定要有這些嘗試,因為我們這種技術在民間已經很成熟了,比如說北港的廟會中會出現大型機具,這些機械裝置能做得到,就完全不是技術問題,而是敢不敢或願不願意嘗試而已。
作為一位藝術創作者,我一直覺得我能夠回饋地方信仰的,或許就是創造力跟想像力了。譬如日本的佛寺,它也有一套收費機制,但它的收錢的方法和它所給信眾的氛圍不一樣。西方的教堂如果收錢,要求遊客掏錢的方法也不一樣。麻豆代天府是讓我思索到民間信仰創意問題的靈感來源,就是你進去花個四十元就可以體驗動態的天堂或地獄,我覺得反而收費收得太便宜了。這地方其實花了非常多的心思也超大手筆,但或許是因為成本問題,目前它裡面有很多東西都沒有修好,應該是缺乏修繕跟維護的經費。記得我小時候去看動力雕像啟動處刑的展演時,刀子刺進肚子裡是會噴出血水的。
我認為宗教與娛樂可以用不同的方式互相連結,以剛剛提到的大佛來說,因為這是個互動裝置,大家投錢不奇怪,而且又好玩,也沒有限制要投多少,不會有人叫你換個一萬塊,一直投才會有用。如果信眾為了要看祂射出紅光或發出聲音效果,也是有可能硬投一百個硬幣,甚至可以只為了看祂點頭或是看祂rock而去做這件事情。我覺得宗教應該就是要這樣,既可以震懾人也可以娛樂人,且它的神祕性像是能一目了然但又無法說通,更沒辦法完全窺見,這種感覺應該就像麻豆代天府的十八層地獄,或是北港的廟會中,一堆蘿莉跟正太扮成小仙女撒糖,或是其他廟會中常出現的鋼管女郎,超像 《地獄遊記》中刑罰被串成肉串的罪人。
觀察到這些現象後,再去思考宗教與現代的信仰,我們到後來有想到所謂的宗教遊樂園。有了這想法後,我們就開始思考它應該如何被建構的方法。如果說有個地方開始可以接受藝術家的角色進入做這些事情,那它是不是就有可能成為第一個發想地?我們就是那時候抱著試一下的心態,去思考藝術創作結合廟宇這件事。當初會想在靈山聖道院做許願池的原因,來自於廟宇內的池塘上有幾朵石蓮花,我們心想似乎可以用許願池的概念去處理這個地方,配合讓信眾丟錢許願的概念,在池塘上面加上天時、地利、人和、財富、健康、愛情、事業、家庭八個銅製小公仔各用鍊子掛上八棵搖錢樹,這樣設計的搖錢樹是會搖擺的,你拿錢丟它會有令人開心的黃銅叮咚聲,隨著信眾的互動而擺動,配合著周邊由邱子晏製作的廟,上鑲著的紅銅說明牌讓人躍躍欲試,我自己也是拿錢在那邊一直砸,就很好玩,就是讓它日常就有一個互動的方式。
將來要做的大林蒲社區彩繪則是另一個比較有趣的經驗,我們想弄一個真的是大林蒲故事的壁畫,才開始慢慢跑一些地方或是問一些人,就是想把他們講的故事視覺化。之前我有跟陳冠彰討論,他跟我說很多古代的廟宇幾乎沒有日治時代這塊歷史,所以我就特別注意這一點,慢慢地去補這空缺。臺灣非常多的廟是清朝或者是更早之前就存在。或許是因為日治時期的「眾神歸天政策」,統治當局刻意將許多民間信仰的廟宇裁併或剷除,所以當地很多廟的沿革歷史可能會寫起源於清朝,然後馬上就接民國了,幾乎都會忽略日治時期這塊。舉例來說,日治時代大林蒲當地最靈驗的池王爺王公廟,在這段時間就有遭受到統治當局的刻意壓制,我們在訪問期間遇到一位魚塭的老闆,他的曾曾祖母就收留過池王爺。當時的背景是日治時期皇民化運動方興未艾的時刻,常會將臺灣本土的神像集中銷毀。因此,她白天把神像藏在稻草堆,晚上就放在儲菜櫃裡面,聽說最後池王爺被請回去時,還變成一隻大蝙蝠在他們家裡飛來飛去。這時我們也漸漸發現,想要深入了解當地人的生活,非得了解廟不可,因為年紀較大的長輩幾乎都很常在那邊出沒,甚至一些小朋友都會莫名其妙地(原因我還沒問到)去找廟祝說要燒些金紙,從歷史到日常生活,幾乎都與廟宇密不可分。

邱子晏:潛藏於民間與信仰中的混血文化

這兩年持續在進行的創作計畫,皆與臺灣的民間信仰有關,如在雲林縣金湖(為現口湖鄉)的「牽水(讀音壯)」傳統習俗,距今一百七十年前的六月初六,兇猛的怒濤惡浪襲捲了臺灣西部沿海,尤其在金湖地區就造成二千多人死亡,緊接著發生的瘟疫,更是將死亡人數推高至萬人之計。生存下來的人民,為了超渡這些在苦海受難的亡魂,便在農曆六月初八前後舉行牽水超渡法會等活動來祭祀並超渡先祖的亡魂。這祭典幾乎等同於金湖當地的過年,轉變成另一種地方性的宗教盛事。
而在金湖附近的四湖則座落著另一間包公廟,此廟的建築規模非常雄偉,當初會蓋這座廟的原因,是清朝時從中國大陸飄來一塊上面寫有包公名字的牌子,彷彿註定般,他們就在這地方蓋了一座廟,進而演化成當地的信仰。我覺得這些民間信仰有趣,是因為這些信仰並沒有在政治的輪替中,從清朝、日治至今被征服或削弱,尤其越邊緣或越鄉下的地方更是如此。此外,十六世紀日本人其實有攻佔過屏東車城一帶,但是他們對抗的是原住民,這裡似乎也是兩個民族鬥爭後許多人亡故的終焉之地。那時我就想做一間有風切音的房子,那是颱風天風吹過室內後產生共鳴的怪聲,我一直對這種聲音有點敏感,所以想要配合那個風,製作出一間像日本神社的屋子,因為神社常被用來祭奉死亡的士兵。我其實就常想像,能不能找到一種狀態是跟臺灣有關,但不那麼直接去談論殖民這件事情。
我感興趣的是一種差異的狀態,但那差異狀態並非是絕對的不同,而是在很相似的狀態下,裡面有一點差異,這也與我的創作有關,因為自己在思考「臺灣」到底是什麼時,常廣泛地進行思考,也會一直反思所謂的殖民過程,最後反而是在一個小物件的演變中,找到了更準確的狀態。我自己有在做木工,「刨」是其中一個難度較高的技術,在學的過程中我就有一個疑問,臺灣在使用刨刀的用法到底是受到中國還是日本殖民的影響?最後我發現答案是兩者皆有對臺灣刨刀產生影響。中國加上日本的綜合體就等於臺灣的刨刀,在中國,木工做的是很大的宮廷建築,所以他們使用刨刀時是用推的,往前走的,他們的刨刀就設計成有點像牛角的樣子,握住兩邊較好往前推;但在日本,他們很喜歡做小櫃子,或是其他小巧精緻的東西,所以木匠是坐在地上用腳夾著材料,將刨刀對著自己往回拉,工作範圍就是在腳與身體可觸碰到的地方。臺灣刨刀就呈現兩種共通的狀態,臺灣的刨刀在日式回拉的刨刀上裝置一根橫柄後,就變成中國的型式。
純做木工的人很常說就是受到日本殖民的關係,這些工具才被改良成這樣。可是他並沒有說到中國的部分,刨刀是魯班的發明,傳到日本後受西方影響,後來才改成現今有壓鐵的形式。基本上臺灣的木工並沒有純中式的技術,但也不是完全日式的,是種混血後的臺式技術。對我來說,它說明了我們沒有辦法否認日本殖民對我們的深遠影響,但也應該要把日本殖民跟中國血統放在一起看,不要去爭論我們到底有沒有經歷過或是要不要那個記憶,而是要看到這種狀態。當代臺灣就是在多種文化交疊後,在國民政府來臺後政治光景下混合的一種全新思維。


 

Artistic Fantasy of Modern Life and Folk Belief
───── Chun-yu Chen, Xiang Ni, Zih-yan Chiou

Time: August 13, 2015
Interviewee: Chun-yu Chen, Xiang Ni, Zih-yan Chiou
Interviewers and Guests: Jow-jiun Gong, Mirr Lo, Guan-jhang Chen, Juliet Lin
Location: Frank Fang Studio
Compiled by Fei-hao Chen
Translated by Ling-chuan Wu, Li-fen Wang

Chun-yu Chen: The Thinking of Merging Daily Life with Humor

Most of my works combine the observation and imagination of life. For example, I once produced a video in which flags with candidates’ faces are all over the place during election campaign. Smiles of the candidates on the flags are stiff. As the wind blew, their faces change. To strengthen the effect of the unnatural facial twitches, I removed some frames from the recorded videos. Before my graduation, I made a blue and white singing porcelain vase telling its own story about how it wanders about and tries to trade itself. There was another device, called The Angels, which is equipped with a body weight scale and a circular fluorescent light tube. As people stand on the weight scale, the sensor triggers the indicator to move to zero right away. At the same time, the tube lights up to instantly make the person an angel or Buddha. It is quite interesting. I like to merge daily life humor into my works, and I have the same idea with this work that Xiang Ni, Zih-yan Chiou and I create together. However, this is the very first time that we work on temple religion.
There is a temple, Ling Shan Saint Tao Temple, located in Checheng, Pingtung, where my family would turn to for help as we encounter any career problems. As a consequence, we get to know the abbot of the temple so as to learn more about its history. Ling Shan Saint Tao Temple started as a small temple and was later extended with upper levels and gradually turned into the scale now. The building structure of the temple is said to be discussed and designed by both the architect and the spirit medium possessed by Ji Gong. Thus compared to a traditional Min style temple, it is much similar to the horizontal Japanese Western building. Even though Ling Shan Saint Tao Temple sits in Sihchongsi Scenic, believers and tourists seldom step into the temple. Administrative people at the temple truly hope that we can host activities or summer camps to activate the local area.
After Xiang Ni finished his exhibition, Romance of NG at Tina Keng Gallery in 2013, there were lots of large sculptures to be settled. I suggested Xiang Ni to put them on the lawn in front of my house. They had been there for almost six months, and they actually looked nicer on the lawn than they were in the gallery. One of the works was a head of a Buddha, and it happened to be noticed by the leader of the temple as he came to talk to my father. The leader thus asked me if he could house the work in Ling Shan Saint Tao Temple. Their thoughts were as simple as having many large sculptures like The Pier-2 Art Center in Kaohsiung does to attract tourists. As a result, we started to discuss the combination of contemporary art and the temple so as to create a different cultural landscape.
When we were doing site survey, we looked at the painting in the temple carefully and discovered several problems. For example, what should be a powerful tiger was painted as a weak cat. It perfectly reveals the modern problems this temple has, which make it a postmodern collage. As for the building itself, the temple was constructed with reinforced concrete—a common material in Taiwan that enables a construction to be built in the fastest way with the lowest price. This building is strong enough to withstand both typhoons and earthquakes but all traditional construction methods are given up. Furthermore, many stone carvings were imported from China as the cost and time were the primary concerns, and you can imagine there is little artistry in them. In fact, the connection between temples in Taiwan and those in China is always very strong that if a temple has concluded to be a brother temple of a certain temple in China or has been in touch, the two temples are bound to share resources. However, things imported from China or the craftsmanship is not the best. Some stone carvings are not even finished, but since people cannot see the unfinished part, they just leave them that way. It shows the difference in craftsmanship between Taiwan and China.
Another project run by Xiang Ni, Po-hau Tseng, Yu-hsien Su, Zue-ya Chen and me is a band named “Sexy Little Young Pig.” Our goal is to become the worst yet the best band in the independent music market. To be “awesome” means not to play music like easy punk that can be copied by a random band. Such copy-and-paste music type is actually easy. We want to present a band that is seemingly “bad” but it is so “bad” that it cannot be copied, which makes it “awesome.” The band’s music was on the edge of being trash, and it is exactly so that we are in a strange position. There seems to be a connection between our performances and the “natural condition” of life, and some may even consider this connection avant-garde. At first we wanted to make MVs only, but later we thought performances might provide us with chances to better skills. Unexpectedly, it turns out that performances can also justify all the harassment (our latest motif) and lameness.

Xiang Ni: A Religion Playground for the Crowd

My works are usually based on collected ready-made objects. I put them in different venues like exhibition spaces in schools, art museums, commercial galleries or alternative spaces, and then I bring them back to where they are found. In such a way, they are taken to the starting point after experiencing numerous transitions in interpretation. Or the objects of my work may become a collector’s collection (though the chance is slim) when they are exhibited in a commercial gallery, because they are more than natural to consider them as art creations when they are displayed in an art museum. What a piece of work may go through can be beyond the expectation of the creator. And because of me being a creator, the objects are given other interpretations by the society. This can be seen as a stroke of luck given by the Buddha in some ways.
To tell the truth, I care a lot about “rationality.” Everything has to have a simple or instinctive logic. Take the statue of Venus for example, if the arms of the statue are cut, shouldn’t the statue bleed? Or shouldn’t there be a money tree in a wishing well? I remember one time when I was chatting with my friend at Fo Guang Shan Monastery about why the statues of Buddha were made in such a large size. We figured that it revealed how wealthy the monastery was on the one hand. On the other hand, I thought the main reason was that they could not design interesting Buddha statues, because they lacked imagination. Therefore, making large statues could make this up in order to cater to the taste of the public. My friend and I had some rather fun imagination about Buddha statues. We thought it would be fun to put an extremely large statue of Buddha or any other god to be surrounded by 108 donation boxes in the future. As believers toss coins, different notes will be made, and the believers thus become VJs who can make music by throwing money. When the donation reaches ten thousand dollars, there will be a “Boom!” sound, and a set of floodlight will light up. Once the amount of donation goes over one hundred thousand dollars, the statue will nod its head and the background music will be played with the floodlight shooting out. On the contrary, if the donation is not sufficient, red lights will shoot out from the eyes of the statue as if the statue stared at the monks and nuns in the temple to warn them to work harder or it can even shake its head to show disapproval. Though it may seem ridiculous, I think folk belief in Taiwan has to have such attempts in the future. The techniques mentioned above are quite mature now. Such large machines were used in the temple fair of Beigang. In short, it is not about technical problems but the willingness to try.
As an art creator, I have always felt that if there is anything I can give back to local belief, it will be creativity and imagination. If we turn to the temples in Japan, they have their own fee collection systems and the way they collect money and the atmosphere temples create are different from that in Taiwan. How western churches collect money from tourists is also different. Madou Temple is a place that inspires me to think about creativity in folk belief. In my opinion, it is such a bargain that you can experience virtual heaven and hell with as cheap as forty dollars. They are delicately designed places and the construction expenses must be high. However, perhaps due to the cost of maintenance, many devices do not function. I can still recall when I was a kid, I saw a knife stab into the stomach of robotic statues of the guilty ones, and the blood spouted.
I think religion and entertainment can be connected to each other in many ways. Take the concept of the large Buddha statue that I previously mentioned for example, since it is an interactive device, it is normal that people toss money for fun, any amount of money is fine. No one would ask you to donate ten thousand dollars or keep tossing money to make the device move. If the believers want to see the red light shooting out from the eyes of the statue or hear the sound effect, they can toss a hundred coins, or they can do anything just to watch it nod or rock. For me, this is the way religion should be. It should be awe-inspiring as well as entertaining. And it should be something that seems to be easily seen through yet still remains mysterious. It should be like the animated figures of Eighteenth Hell in Madou Temple. Or it could be like what you see in the temple fair of Beigang—a bunch of young boys and girls dressed up like small fairies to spread candies; or in other temple events you would see a group of pole dancers resembling the sinners strung into kabobs in the eighteenth hell.
When we see the phenomenon and think about religious and modern beliefs, we come up with the idea of “religious amusement parks”, and we wonder how it should be established. If there is a place where artists are allowed to realize the idea, will it be the first site of such inspiration? That is when we think about giving it a try and mixing our artistic creation with temples. The reason why we wanted to make a wishing well at Ling Shan Saint Tao Temple was because there were several houseleeks in the pond of the temple, and it would be suitable to make a wishing well. What we did was to add eight money trees with eight toys attached to each of the money tree. The eight toys respectively represent “Right Time,” “Right Place,” “Right People,” “Wealth,” “Health,” “Love,” “Career” and “Family.” With the concept that the believers could toss money and make a wish at the pond, we intentionally made the money trees unsteady so that whenever you throw coins at them, they would swing and emit a pleasant clang. Meanwhile, it interacts with the believers. Next to the wishing well, Zih-yan Chiou made a miniature temple with an inlaid copper illustration sign luring people to give the money trees a try. This is actually fun and I cannot stop tossing money for the visual effect. Such a device can interact with people on a regular basis.
Another interesting project is to launch community painting in Da Lin Pu. We wanted to draw a fresco with stories that relate to the local community, so we started to visit places and people in order to visualize their stories. I have discussed with Guan Zhang Chen that many ancient temples lack the history of the Japanese period, and I am trying to fill this blank space. Many temples in Taiwan were built in the Qing Dynasty or earlier. Perhaps it was for the “gods belong to heavens (眾神歸天)” policy during the Japanese Rule Period that many temples of folk beliefs were cut down or merged so that local temple histories started from the Qing Dynasty and straightly followed by that of the Republic of China. For example, in Da Lin Pu during the Japanese Rule Period, the most efficacious local temple, Chi Wang Ye Wang Gong Temple was suppressed by the government. During our interview, we encountered the owner of a fish farm. His great grandmother once kept the statue of Chi Wang Ye away from being destroyed. As Japanization took place, the government collected and destroyed statues of local gods in Taiwan. The woman hid the statue in piles of rice straw during day time and kept it in a vegetable closet at night. It was said that when Chi Wang Ye was invited to return to the temple, it turned into a big bat and flew around her house. It was until then that we gradually understood that if we wanted to learn more about the life of the locals, we had to know more about the temples, because most of the elders would gather there, even children would turn to the temple leader to burn joss paper without any particular reason (perhaps it is because I have not found out their reasons yet). From history to daily life, everything is closely connected to the temple.

Zih-yan Chiou: The Mixing Culture Hidden in the Folk and Folk Belief

All of my creation projects done in the past two years have been related to folk beliefs in Taiwan. For example, there is one traditional custom named “Chien Shui Chuang” in Chinhu (the Kouhu township), Yunlin County. The story began on June 6 one hundred and seventy years ago when fierce waves struck the western coastal part of Taiwan and claimed two thousand lives in Chinhu alone. The plague that followed caused more deaths. In total, the two disasters killed more than ten thousand people. In order to comfort these suffering souls as well as ancestors, those having survived held activities like Chien Shui Chuang dharma assembly on June 8 by lunar calendar. This ceremony equals to the new-year event in Chinhu, and it further turns into a local religious occasion.
There is a Bao Gong Temple that sits in Shihhu near Chinhu. The scale of the temple is quite magnificent. The story behind the temple is that in the Qing Dynasty, a sign written with Bao Gong’s name drifted from China to Chinhu. It was believed to be destined, so people built a temple here and the worship of Bao Gong was localized. What interests me most about folk belief is that it has never been conquered or weakened with political alternations starting from the Qing Dynasty to the Japanese Rule Period and then to the government now. It is especially alive in remote areas. There is another case that in the sixteenth century, the Japanese attacked and occupied Checheng, Pingtung, where they were confronted with the aboriginal people and it became the final resting place of many. After I learned about it, I wanted to build a house emitting the sound of wind shear which resembles the weird sound when a typhoon blows through a house and resonates with it. I am sensitive to the sound, so I wanted to use it and build a shrine-like Japanese house mostly used to worship dead soldiers. In fact, I have always wondered if we can find a way to talk about Taiwan without directly mentioning its colonization.
What interests me more is a state of differences referring to co-existence of minor differences with a majority of similarities rather than a stark discrepancy between the two. It has something to do with my creation. Whenever I think about what “Taiwan” really is, I will ponder from a wide range of perspectives and also review its colonization process. Unexpectedly, I found the precise answer from the evolution of a small object. I do carpentry myself and to plane is a difficult technique. When I learned the technique, I wondered whether the technique used in Taiwan had been influenced by the Chinese or the Japanese colonizers. At last, I realized that the answer was both. In China, carpenters construct large buildings such as palaces. When they plane, they tend to push their tools away from themselves. That is why the tools are shaped into a bull’s horns for both hands to hold easily. In Japan, carpenters are fond of making small closets or delicate crafts. When they plane, they sit on the floor and place materials between their feet and tend to draw their tools back towards themselves. Their working space is thus restricted to wherever their feet and body can reach. In Taiwan, the tool is a mix of both styles which has a handle installed on a Japanese planer tool.
Those who do carpentry would say that these tools are what they are now because of the colonization of Japan without mentioning the influences from China. Nevertheless, the planer tool is originally invented by Ban Lu from China. After it was adopted by the Japanese and after the West exerted its influence in Japan, the planer tool was added with the pressure bar. It seems a bit complicated, but overall there is not a pure Chinese or Japanese technique when it comes to Taiwanese carpentry. It is the mix of both. For me, it shows that we cannot deny the strong influence brought by the colonization of Japan, but we should also take the Chinese blood we have into consideration rather than arguing if we have really been through the period or if we want this part of history or not. We should look at the current status of Taiwan, and learn to see that the modern Taiwan consists of numerous cultures mixed under the Nationalist government’s rule after it came to Taiwan.

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