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An Investigation Into 'Magnetic Writing/Marching Ideas, Works on Paper'
text by J. J. Shih
The opening of Magnetic Writing: Marching Ideas, Works on Paper at the IT Park Gallery has brought together the diverse groups of artists originally from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. It should be noted however, that the entire exhibition comprises their mini works by approximately 90 artists who are now settling in Europe, the States, or Asia. The apparent vogue for the selection of participating artists embraces the megastars in the art community. The exhibition was installed with mini works, but at the same time it gave one an opportunity to broadly examine, compare, and understand the current landscape of contemporary Chinese art either in quality or in quantity. Far from being resistant to such constraints as space limitations and a shortage of human resources, the Gallery has succeeded in organizing a show of the kind. Indeed, it appears to be a remarkable accomplishment for such a small-scaled independent gallery to fulfill it alone. It is plainly recognizable what the IT Park Gallery has done is admirable.

The working title of the exhibition is Magnetic Writing which takes shape as a central theme around which art considerably responds to the movement of modern technology. We have long become more and more preoccupied with the ideas that the subject matter of art depicts the reproduction of experience, the records of mind, or merely the form of imagination and creation which are all rooted in both skills and talents. From that point of view, it demands a carrier as appropriate and a certain amount of effective writing as well. In a sense, even if it is tailored to self-fulfillment and self-examination, or to the activity of communication in society, art writing needs to be done in a way that it has to take up space for a public show or make entry into dissemination. Since Magnetic Writing is delicately poised at such a threshold, with a view towards what is presented, there seems to be the two crucial elements that the audience should focus on at the first opportunity. The two crucial elements are: what is a sense of value on art when it is continually serving as approach towards civilization writing in the time of technology; what is behind this 'super show' taking place at the IT Park Gallery, alternative space on a small scale.

Contemporary Art - Magnetic Writing's Vanguard
Art presented in the form of writing primitive and civilized has its long-standing history. It is somewhat primitive in sense that more often than not, art creation originates from a self, from chaos, or from zero at one level. It unveils layers of civilization for another level in an attempt to look to the future, to explore a desire to seek infinity, to search for new life, and to have great drive to move into a new phase. The demand for expression/dissemination had led to the presence and development of art writing at the outset of human history. One soon realized that the invention of characters for the first time was the great revolution both in the way of human thinking and in the history of the mass communication. Interestingly enough, art writing seemed not to be on the decline even though characters were invented by human beings. Yet it considered as tool to serve visual communication and at the same time art writing itself has evoked a sense of beauty in a meaningful way. In view of the fact that the work of art creations bears its own meaning and value, each is recognized as object treasured by people. The art pieces are not purely a sign of human thinking, human emotion, and human concept from that viewpoint.

Today scientists lead us to a new epoch of the electronic communication/magnetic writing. Many thought 'magnetic writing' succeeding characters will perhaps have great impact on humans in the next 'writing revolution'. In addition, it should be aware that people have ventured into a new phase in regard to the technique of magnetic writing where new developments including modern digitalized technology have gradually replaced a pattern of analogy in the days of old. Consequently, the forms of writing in variety such as picture, image, sound, words and so on are able to be integrated into a whole with one interface, and at the same time they are likely to interchange with each other on different platforms. As one sees, the mass communication involves in the development of the Internet component leveling with digitalized technology to embrace the idea of revolution. Indeed, it facilitates and broadens the dissemination of all the works of magnetic writing with the aid of Internet. In so doing, the works coincide to come into view across the world, above all, they are in essence original. The situation is complicated by the fact that technology has occurred in our daily life where everything stretches away to infinity. In the meanwhile, technology explores the possibility of closer links between people. There will be a massive wave of the concept of "magnetic writing" stimulating new ideas in the art field. But nevertheless it comes to mind if the concept will end up enormous change in art writing. Bearing this in mind, we need to have further investigation into it.

In highlighting the use of technology, "magnetic writing" maybe has declared the imminence of a new epoch of civilization. Indeed, the ideas of trans-media, trans-interface, trans-platform have taken shape to serve as an experiment in art circles for years and years. American artist Robert Rauschenberg, for instance, applied mix-media in his paintings in the 50's where he intended to explore the concept of a super-platform using traditional canvas. Over the last decade it is observed to happen in Taiwan art circles likewise while many contemporary local artists have no longer confined themselves to certain forms of art which used to remain sharply divided along art lines. Instead, they freely employ all kinds of media such as sound, picture, image, and objects in art creations. Alternatively, some spontaneously embrace together the elements of two-dimensions, three-dimensions, or three-dimensional writing in art creations. One may question, 'What distinguishes contemporary art from traditional one?' It is found that contemporary art in sharp contrast with traditional one is unlikely to deal with 'settling components' and 'concrete matters'. Contemporary art frequently has developed from the perspective of the hyper-interface. It is eventually done in favor of the trans-interface, bearing all the marks of a hyper-text.

From that point of view, I have perception that Magnetic Writing is grounded in much more than what artists pay tribute to the concept and interpretation of the title or how they respond to the technique in the practice of a new form of writing. A group exhibition on a large scale seems to be more significant in operations where artists are invited to engage in 'experimental writing', ending up the installation of 'a private collection'. It enables us to recall that going beyond the status quo is one of the fundamental principles on which art creations are based. In so doing, a number of artists probably experiment with creations in private all the time. Some are but an automatic experiment not observed in a systematic way. Some might be filled with weird fancies or sort of vogue. No matter what they are, we see 'new evidence in art creations' that is rare. If we admit that, the experiments are regarded as the processing of a new form of art writing. As a result, dedicating to such a 'super group show' small but complete, the Gallery brings them together on view, which makes a relatively positive gesture towards it.

A Magnetic Space - Compressing the March of Idea
There has approximately 90 artists to participate in Magnetic Writing held at the IT Park Gallery where takes up a small open space. All the works need to be installed in there-even if that is clearly a mathematical impossibility. It possibly can not be done unless each work is scaled down. At one point, the Gallery did have great idea and experience of how it goes when making space arrangements. I recall that many years ago the gallery once organized a show of Mail Art over a short period of time found a great success even if it had been carried out on a shoestring budget. Magnetic Writing can be observed as extension of Mail Art at the operations level. On the one hand, the number of participating artists indicates that the exhibition is installed in quantity. On the other, the Gallery demands strict uniformity of size A4 on all the works on paper. In line with a delivery instruction, the works are forwarded by mail. The works at the end of the day are arranged merely a formality on show-a neat display putting them in lines on the walls. The sort of arrangements have made the venue in the context of 'warehouse store' where evokes a sense of worship in the name of 'super show'. The exhibition seems to be measured quantitatively as far as space constraints are concerned. In view of the fact that the idea of 'compressed files' is explored in the show, the organizer is in an attempt to reveal that 'art is bizarre' very much indeed. The exhibition is done with great effort and amusement which is well worth your while to track down these treasures.

Magnetic Writing perhaps falls into categories from the qualitative perspective if I appropriate the software jargon and its concept:

Small But Complete Edition: In a sense, the kind of works has been processed in the use of de-quantity and compressing, but still it does not appear deteriorating conditions in quality. Those small but complete works are done to reflect artists' strength and distinctive flavour in creations while the presentation is rather integral to the works themselves on the whole. It is plain that artists express great concern over art performance without considering the scale of work. The works of Yao Jui-chung, Yu Peng, Wang Jun-jieh, Lin Ming-hong, Chen Shun-chu, Huang Ming-che, Chen Hsing-wan, Huang Hung-the, Juin Shieh, Yang Jie-chang, Tsong Pu, Gu Wenda, Sheu Tzu-kuey, Lee Ming-wei, Jenny Chen, Liou Shih-fen, Ava Hsueh, Lu Ming-te, Xu Bing fall into this group. The truth as I perceive it is that their works depict not merely some sort of individual style familiar to us or the kind of a manuscript sign, but the idea of self-expression with effort.

Hot Trial Edition: The works divided into the group, in particular, their forms are something completely new for us as there is a lack of direct link between artist and work itself at first glance. Amusingly enough, it implicitly indicates that artists of that kind are playing new tricks in an attempt to explore new approach towards creations. Those artists including Wang Te-yu, Yang Mao-lin, Hou Chun-ming, Lien Chien-hsing, Chu Teh-I, Lai Chi-man, Cheng Tsai-tong, and Fang Marvin Min-to produce such works as hot trial edition.

Treasured Private Copy Edition: The works of the group comprising original artists' drawings and drafts are rarely seen in the exhibition. Artists Wu Tien-chang, Cai Guo-qiang, Lin Wen-chiang, Ye Chu-sheng, Emily S.C. Yang, Lee Ming-sheng, Shyu Ruey-shiann, Tao Ya-lun, Kao Chuan-chou, Chen Cheng-hsun, Tseng Ching-kan, Chen Hui-chiao, Yuan Guang-ming, , Hsia Yan, Kevin Yu, Hsu Cheng-jen, Peng Hung-chih produce such works as treasured private copy edition. They are observed as original records of artists' mind and fancy which may be unsophisticated but pure and genuine. It comes straight to the point where the Japanese have deemed them as "artist's identification".

Applied Science Edition: The works falling into the group are done in highlighting the practice of new media-technology-in a straightforward way, or of computer images as alternative interface. Artists including Ho Siu-kee, Chen Chien-pei, Chu Chia-hua, Han Hsiang-ning, Wang Jun-jieh, Lin Shu-min, Yang Mao-lin, Huang Wen-hao, Cheng Shu-lea, Mei Dean-e, Ku Shih-yung, Tang Huang-chen, and Lee Min-chung produce works of that kind. Strictly speaking, Amongst all the works, the group, in particular, embraces the theme and literally responds to "Magnetic Writing". Yet the traces of human drawings using hands are missing, instead the remarkable art character has been replaced by bloody cold computer images where they are done using printer. Where will art be next? It might make one begin to ponder whether it ends up creating another form of art or discarding art tradition.

Highlighting a Magnetic Field at The IT Park Gallery
Afterwards I would like to make a thorough examination of the Gallery as organizer of Magnetic Writing from the perspective of quantity. The IT Park Gallery has been established since around 1989 where is used to be deemed an alternative space at the earliest by Taiwan art circles. Over the last decade, the Gallery exactly has given a fine example of 'alternative space' without following the systems of the authorities and the gallery. As a matter of fact, one used to mark alternative space as 'marginal gap' and 'the antithesis of the mainstream of society'. Magnetic Writing is done to commit to a ground-breaking investigation into it from different angles. In my own opinion, alternative space like The IT Park Gallery is dedicated to many creators where succeeds in establishing 'a spontaneously magnetic field of art'. What it possesses in there is the strength of 'the hubbub' (a measure of the heightened dedication to the show) greatly catching our attention by the simple and unadorned art. The IT Park Gallery provides artists simply with a warm touch of 'a home from home' while art authorities seem to tempt them with fame, and it is heading for substantial profits on the art marketing.

There is a saying that the art circles are seen as a sheet of loose sand. Based on that assumption, The IT Park Gallery serves as a magnetic field where turns a sheet of loose sand to be reactive iron power. In so doing, it is able to pour the energy throughout the exchanges. In view of the fact that there have been 'numberless' artists making their art performance at the Gallery over the last decade, they perhaps do not constitute a formal group, but at the same time the great interaction has arisen to testify to the close link amongst them. Magnetic Writing, for instance, a small-scaled stage is neither acknowledged very much in the spotlight nor motivated by any beneficial factors. Ultimately, there are approximately 90 artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China in celebration of the show on grounds of a simple but amusing art theme. Indeed, Magnetic Writing has successfully marked The IT Park Gallery as a magnetic field remarkable and unique where enables many artists to respond to in action. It is well perceived from that viewpoint.

If the exhibition campaign depicts a pattern of writing act in the community, its venue is observed as a carrier holding the activity of writing. If one considers from that perspective, The IT Park Gallery as a carrier of art writing provides a sharp division in which it seems to bear more marks of 'floppy disk' and to be more capable of performing writing repeatedly-the repetition of writing and reading so regardless of its capacity constraints and of several experiments on a diverse form of writing-as compared with what the art museum and the commercial gallery do. As a result, it can not be possibly ignored that there contains a number of changes on the front of art writing in local art museums and galleries, which is acknowledged to emerge for the first time at such alternative space as The IT Park Gallery where continually carries out the experiment on writing. According to my personal observation, the development of contemporary Taiwan art, no doubt, postures a leading position in the way of either 'quantitative mutation' or 'qualitative mutation', which is rather noticeable at alternative space where pioneers to motivate operations with low capacity and high speed.

The IT Park Gallery is neither observed as a shrine dedicated to art nor as art marketing. What it possesses is merely a spontaneously magnetic field. This ought to make me think that organizing any super group shows embracing 'the hubbub' unveils what 'quantity' exactly means, and this can be deliberately reconsidered and can be judged in a more fair way.
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