1959 BORN IN TAIWAN
1983 GRADUATE FROM CHINESE CULTURE UNIVERSITY BOTANY DEPARTMENT
1987 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - ACTION & SPACE/EXPERIMENT ART TAIPEI FINE ARTS MUSEUM
1990 SOLO EXHIBITION - TOWER AND SPRING IT PARK
1991 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - INTERNATIONAL MAIL ART IT PARK
1991 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - MINI SCULPTURE HOWARD PLAZA
1992 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITON - 16 GARBAGE HANDLING TAIPEI HSIEH CULTURE CENTER
1992 SOLO EXHIBITION - BREATH TAIPEI HSIEH CULTURE CENTER
1993 SOLO EXHIBITION - 1959B.C. - 1959A.D. IT PARK
1996 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - INTERNET TRANSACTION AUSTRALIA
1996 SOLO EXHIBITION - WHAT I THINK MINUS WHAT I DO EQUAL TO "ME" IT PARK
1997 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - TAIWAN INSTALLATION ART JIA - YI
1998 ESTABLISH "ETAT WEB TV SITE"
1999 SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION - SECRET GARDEN WEB INSTALLATION ETAT
2000 VISIONS OF
PLURALISM National Museum of History
2001 "YELLOW SUBMARINE" - "THE GRAVITY OF THE IMMATERIAL", ICA, TAIPEI
2001 "BEELINE WHIRLPOOL" - ETAT, TAIPEI
2001 "Erasing Scenery", KaoHsiung International Container Arts Festival, KaoHsiung, Taiwan
Honors and Awards
1996 THE TAIPEI BIENNIALOF CONTEMPORARY ART
Views on Art
Recording a Conversation with Huang Wen-Hao
Cheng Wen-Zong 1994
This interview is the record of a conversation with Huang Wen-Hau. I hope such an exposure of the fragments of the artist・s aesthetic thinking from his own point of view will enable others to more accurately understand his art. The day before the interview was a finishing point he gave to his previous work. He therefore had a new attitude in his reflections on art.
Cheng: Could you tell us a little about what the focus of your life has been recently and what you have especially been concerned with?
Huang: During the past few years, I have put a lot of emphasis on ways of thinking, and the relative amount of physical work has decreased. For example, nowadays I rarely go to work in my studio. Why is this the case? Certain things that have occurred during the last few years have resulted in my working less than before. The reason for this might possibly be motivation. I have gradually had less motivation to go about straightforward manual work.
C: Is this possibly a type of self-examining with regard to pre-set situations ?
H: In the beginning, I wasn・t altogether very clear as to what technical work was really about. It was only in the end that I realized that the greater part of it lies in practicing. When I first entered the art world, my motivations were very simple indeed. I just liked painting, the important thing being whether or not I painted accurately. It was only later on that I found out that it wasn・t just a matter of the technical side to painting. Therefore, there are some pieces that are not possible with just pre-set methods. I am currently still reflecting on this matter. Perhaps I will later go back to previous ways of painting. That was my way of thinking until yesterday. For example, if one chooses installation art, a lot of time is spent, in working out on paper, the co-ordination between space and time, and right up until the time when the works are completed, exhibited and the project comes to an end, all of this needs orderly planning.
C: In comparison with the first time I saw your works after I returned to Taiwan in 1989, there have been a lot of changes in conception and form in these last two years. It seems that there is a concern with the element of time.
H: My work in 1989 was more simplistic. However, the exhibition I had in Eslite in 1990 gave people a feeling of uneasiness, instability and even anxiety. The most decisive was the next exhibition I had with Lu Ming-De, the ：Objects Show；, which completely did away with my past self. From this exhibition right up to the present day, ：Time； has been of extreme importance to me. This all came from my own personal anxieties, because at the time I was in poor health. It was only then that I realized that time and life were slipping away. Also art wasn・t the only thing in my life, something quite unique compared to the others at IT Park. Therefore, in order to keep on going, then I had to have a job. May be that wasn・t the right thing to do, because at the time I had to waste my youth and talent in making a living, only having my spare time to spend on my art. I was very much unwilling to have to do this, because I had to use the greater part of my thinking and energy to go after things of secondary importance. This situation was very oppressive, leaving me powerless and even anxious. Though there were quite a lot of material advantages, what about one・s spiritual side? I was really not at all happy with the situation. However, time doesn・t look back, because my body will, earlier than others, will eventually have difficulties in moving about. Things started to pick up only with the exhibition ：Breath； that I had with Chen Kai-Huang. From that time on, these types of anxieties about my life were readily resolved. Therefore, ：Breath； was a very important exhibition for me. After that, my works in the Taipei Biennial Exhibition allowed me to see life more penetratingly and more clearly. As a result of this, I was able to be more settled and stable.
C: Is this due to your training which was not in the fine arts?
H: As for factors that brought this about, firstly, it probably has something to do with my past background of studying science. Secondly, there is my knowledge and understanding of life. These have all directly or indirectly been a part of my views on art and creative work. For example, changes in matter are chemical. In physics, change is a change in appearance and not matter. The changes, for example, in steam, water and ice are reversible. However, the changes in our lives are irreversible. I am basically an atheist. Perhaps some people may feel that there is a cycle of cause and effect in our lives. As far as I know, everyone just has one life. When time has passed by, it won・t come back. This is some type of ：world outlook .； I don・t have any lofty objectives as such, feeling that I have wasted a lot of energy and spirit, but haven・t received what I ought to in return. This is just like the piece ：Nothing on the Other Side.； At the that time I had a sort of nihilist feeling welling up inside, as if I was in the center of the universe. Buddhism has the western paradise and Christianity has heaven, yet at that time I didn・t have the slightest hope or objective, repeatedly performing invalid motions. For example, in the piece entitled ：Invalid Combustion；, I used water to cook stones and photographs. These are all a great burden for me. However, perhaps after tomorrow they will become just things of the past.
C: Have they been influenced by the ：IT effect；?
H: Up until yesterday, my own personal growth was closely linked to that of IT. But it might not necessarily be so in the future. This is because my future modes of artistic expression might be different from past ones. At the moment, Taiwanese art has come to the end of its possibilities, but this doesn・t necessarily mean that it has no creativity left in it.
C: Does this have anything to do with the nomadic character of this end-of-the-century?
H: I am basically in favor of the emergence of a form of nomadism in the 21st Century, but I personally feel that a global village would be something quite terrible indeed. As Milan Kundera once said: ：God allowed humanity to unite, and this was his greatest practical joke.； For example, this is like leftists and rightists using the same aesthetic norms to edit a magazine, or even the whole world establishing a universal language in order to unify computer networks. It is also like Europe which, in order to obtain greater economic development, is set to lose a part of its cultural heritage in its quest for unity. Therefore people already no longer have any originality, ：Conventionalism； being the lethal blow to everything. Even Duchamp, while playing chess, used to bring considerations about ：conventionalism； into his game. The problem dealt with in Kundera・s book ：The Art of the Novel； is precisely that with which we are faced at present. Modern man is situated in some ：Forgetfulness of Being.； Actually, there are some things that clearly exist, but have been ignored or forgotten by everybody. The reason for the death of art is the fact that scholars have been allowed to have a go at producing art. This is because they think that art is the extension of all fields of learning. This is just turning everything upside-down. Art is fundamentally over and above all of this. Just like ：The Ultimate Antinomy；, Descartes started with his ：Cogito ergo sum；, and humanity started using reason. As a result, humanity・s reason has subverted the originally existing truth, which has immediately become just relative in nature. Kundera once said: ：Only by resisting the world・s progress can we arrive at our own personal progress.；
C: Are we to resist the growth of capitalism in the world by means of a gypsy-like nomadism? By stealing to survive instead of assimilating into the system.
H: This is a good way to compare my relationship with IT Park. IT originally emerged with a type of ：local； flavor to it, and it was just because of this ：local； belonging that I joined it in the first place. Just like the emergence and antagonism between rationality and irrationality mentioned above, irrationality is a product of rationality. When the two are confronted with each other, irrationality will emerge victorious.
C: Can you tell us about your future methods with regard to your artistic practice?
H: My future work will possibly continue to be in the domain of installation art. I feel more at ease at the moment, because now I no longer am concerned about so-called art, development or exhibition spaces as such. The things that interest me and give me a lot of enthusiasm now don・t necessarily have to correspond with past norms. Space is also no longer a problem for artistic expression. I was originally a very sociable person. After entering IT, I held back this part of my personality. Nowadays, I am more able to first consider certain things before slowly going about them. Therefore, I don・t think there is anything undesirable about this type of holding back. There were already certain situations that arose as a result of my sociable character while I was at university, especially after the Zhong Li incident and right up until after the Mei Li Dao incident, all of which strengthened my reading and thinking abilities. This has resulted in the emergence of a less academic style in my works. Therefore in the past my tendency to cooperate with others was stronger than stressing my own originality, something quite visible in my work. Also, after thoughtful consideration, I now have a relatively greater degree of initiative in what I do, and am no longer very much influenced by my surrounding environment.
C: Has this transformation anything to do with your becoming a father?
H: This transformation has no absolute connection with my family. On the contrary, I have different views from others about having children. This is because for me, having children is a type of facing myself and not the duty to give birth to the next generation in our family. This is because I am not completely satisfied with the course of my life, resulting in my being afraid of bringing another ：me； into the world. There are a lot of conflicting and contradictory points to it. Another reason for creating a family was the fact that I feel I lack initiative, and this could make me become an ordinary man like everyone else. It is a type of fate. I accepted the challenge of creating a family because it meant I had one more reason to be an ordinary man.
C: For someone seeking enlightenment, being ordinary is but a myth. What do you personally think about myths?
H: Chinese myths have influenced me more. Up to the present moment, I haven・t really thought too much about them, but they are still influencing me to some extent, such as Lotus Lantern, Monkey King, Nuo Zha the God-Kid etc. The Japanese cartoonist Miyasaki Takashi once said: ：My cartoons are not meant to teach people how to do certain things. All I do is tell people what type of people used to live in this world of ours and what things happened in the past. Someone with a world outlook will be able to display his inner world in his works.； Two years or so ago I wasn・t able to effectively deal with these things. I was just going about tiring myself out and always in a state of shock. However, I had the ability to deal with both (a world outlook and my own inner world), because I had taken the time to think about what there is inside us. The two are just like a root・s extension from under the soil・s surface to the top. This is the difference between a laborer and a thinker. Before, I didn・t think that one necessarily had to manifest one・s inner world to others. Nowadays I feel that people basically have the desire to know more. As a result, I now continuously develop into myself, trying to find out what life actually is. Now the places in which I can exhibit are no longer just museums or art galleries. The scope in which I can work is larger. What・s more, neither do I feel that I have the ability to educate others. Therefore I don・t incite or influence people into looking at my work, and I don・t feel like publicizing or promoting my own personal exhibitions. Perhaps it・s because I am an atheist, as God is basically just some sort of personification, raising man to a lofty position, whereas I consider man of but minuscule importance. Therefore, I don・t feel that people are capable of educating others. It・s something I have never really been able to comprehend about human being.
C: Finally, could you give us an explanation of autonomy?
H: As for my own personal problems of autonomy, it・s just like the way I feel about people using walking sticks, the less the better. I want to do the best art possible, and not just go through the artistic labor. Therefore, the type of art I want is not just something pretty, but created by the merging together of art with my own life.