2021 Taoyuan Art x Technology Art Festival- Autumn Glitter, Pond Water, Dancing down memory lane 桃園科技藝術節：秋光‧塘水‧舞鮮鮮
With the glittering light of autumn and the ripping water in ponds, memory dances in the minds and becomes transparent stories.
Autumn symbolizes time. It is a season of sorrow and suppression, but also the season of harvest.
“Autumn Glitter” is inspired by a couplet from chapter 38 of A Dream of Red Mansions: “The autumn’s time fleets, and ought not to be wasted. We ought to cherish every moment while in each other’s company.” It also responds to Yang Mu’s verse poem, “Miao-Yu’s Meditation,” in which the poet writes: “The layers of light and shadow are repeatedly twisted, compressed, and shattered into pieces.”
Cascading through leafless branches and withered leaves, the autumn glitter is splendid as dancing butterflies, and conveys a sense of warmth and a touching feeling.
The glittering ponds of Taoyuan, praised as “the Home to a Thousand Ponds,” is the stage of Chung Chao-Cheng’s novel, Flowing Cloud. It is a site of memory, stories, and history, as well as a reciprocal system of regulation created for Taoyuan by Mother Earth. The water system sustains people’s lives, while creating a natural state that is full of vibrant life, forming a life network system.
Dancing down memory lane—
Memory constitutes of encoded and stored stories. The writing of stories indicates a process of searching and extracting memory in the brain, a mental activity of thinking and imagining. Messages of memory jump and recombine in the brain, and through dance and drama performances, new meanings are re-created. “Dancing down memory lane” beckons at the existence of and creation by women in time, and points to a transparent state of self-realization and self-transcendence.
With women in the literary texts as its theme, Autumn Glitter, Pond Water, Dancing down memory lane upholds the spirit of Total Artwork (Gesamkunstwerk), and employs dance and drama to explore the existence of and creation by women in life. With interactive installation works of technology characterized by an interplay of light and shadow, it represents the “ponds,” a local networked system of water, as a body of living consciousness, and reflects on the symbiotic relationship between the environment and life.
Women in the Text
Posuo Dance Company’s Standing Flow．Cloud is based on the character, “Yin-Mei”, in Chung Chao-Cheng’s Flowing Cloud, and re-considers women’s self-awakening and self-awareness in the patriarchal context. Theatre Company of LeeQingZhao the Private’s Adamantina, on the other hand, is adapted from Taiwanese poet Yang Mu’s classic long verse poem, “Miao-Yu’s Meditation” to portray the character, “Miao-Yu,” one of the twelve beauties of Jingling in A Dream of Red Mansions, and portray the possible actions and sentiments of Miao-Yu in the secluded mansion.
Although literary texts often feature the “existence” of women, female characters are often portrayed as lost, self-sacrificing, sorrowful and destructive individuals. However, the “existence” of women is often where the power originates, as well as what makes a novel appealing and attractive. In A Dream of Red Mansions, Miao-Yu is the daughter of an established family of elite government officials, and is described as “extremely beautiful, well-learned, and smart but also extremely un-sociable and proud, self-contained, and ungregarious. After the decline of her family, she does not fit into the society. So, in the name of spiritual practice, she moves into the Jia family, and lives in Longcui Nunnery in Daguan Garden.” In Chung Chao-Cheng’s Flowing Cloud, although Yin-Mei is a child bride, she is always adamant, diligent, courageous, and passionate. She is brave in pursuing love as well as giving it up to leave her home.
In her Reading the Romance Fictions by Chong Yao of 2006, Lin Fang-Mei states that one of the two ways to study the relationship between literature and society is to examine the social phenomena represented in a literary work, and reduces the literary work into an embodiment of a social concept. Literary works therefore serve as a channel to glimpse and examine the social milieu of a certain time. In literary texts, we can understand abstract social concepts and phenomena. In the times of Miao-Yu and Yin-Mei, women are “voiceless.” Demanded by social norms, women are supposed to become gentle wives and good mothers. In short, they are the subject of stories, as well as the object of the male gaze. However, both Miao-Yu and Yin-Mei have found a way to enjoy themselves in life. Whereas the former seeks to protect her own dignity in confinement, the latter takes action to flee from the restraints of traditional thinking.
Hilary Hart, in Body of Wisdom: Women’s Spiritual Power and How it Serves, reminds women to believe in their inborn power. Through discovering the power within their bodies, they can find firefly-like glimmers of light within themselves, which are women’s spiritual power. This spiritual power exists in their bodies and energy systems, and permeates their minds and souls. In the form of a network, it connects women’s bodies with all beings in the world, creating a massive whole. This concept echoes the notion of Mother Earth: In Chinese mythology, it takes the shape of Goddess “Nuwa”, and in the Greek mythology, “Gaia.”
“Nuwa” is a goddess in Chinese mythology with a human head and the body of a snake. She is known to refine five-colored rocks, which can be melted for mending the holes in the sky broken in the fight between “Gonggong” the god of water, and “Zhurong”, the god of fire. Nuwa also uses clay to make humans, creates marriage to continue the human life, and gives life to the sentient beings in the world. In Greek mythology, Gaia is the mother god of creation, who creates the primal gods and beings in the cosmos. In the notion proposed by James Lovelock in 1969, the planet Earth is a living consciousness, and constitutes a reciprocal or regulatory system. He names this notion the “Gaia Hypothesis,” which not only echoes to the idea of women as “Mother Earth,” but also corresponds with the qualities of women’s life and bodies.
A Life Network System Created by the “Ponds”
Mother Earth is a multi-dimensional, multi-layered whole, derived and created by the physical power of women. It transcends the isolating self, and even humanity itself, to continuously create throughout the succession of life. Mother Earth has carried out the mission of creation and nurturance for the planet Earth, constituting a reciprocal or regulatory system, while maintaining a stable state suitable for the growth of all life.
The “ponds” in Taoyuan, as a nurturing system for early settlers, were first created for the need to perverse water from the rain, streams, springs to supplement the irrigation of farmlands, and have consequently constituted the unique cultural and natural landscape comprising reservoirs, rivers, ponds, and irrigation canals. It is not only century-old, but also contributes to the formation of the unique natural ecological system and the culture of community life characteristic of the Taoyuan Plateau. Walking Grass Agriculture’s Sī Tshân-tsuí (Cultivable Land) focuses on “ponds and lupins,” and utilizes 3D scanning and printing technology, sensory interactive installation, and the expressiveness of metalsmith to create and preserve memory and culture through public participation. The work echoes the memory of the farmlands in Taoyuan, and initiates a dialogue with the earth. Studio BHA’s Wave amalgamates light structure installation and interactive control system to take abstract images drawn by the public with pond water, and transform them into a fluid landscape with rippling waves. The work features the “ponds” as the crystallization of our predecessors’ wisdom, while delineating the “ponds” as a feedback and regulatory system created for Taoyuan by Mother Earth. The water system, which sustains people’s livelihood and survival, has created a natural state brimming with vitality, and has become a life network system.
The Taoyuan Technology x Art Festival, with the amalgamation of technology and performing arts as its subject, translates women’s stories in literary texts to discuss the existences and creations of women in the progression of life, while employing technology art installations to portray the life network system in Taoyuan. Using co-creation workshops, mechanical motored installations, and light installation, the festival engages people in the practice of the public life. It is hoped that the contextualized planning of exhibitions and performances can enable interdisciplinary performing arts to evolve into the “Total Artwork,” which dissolves all boundaries between different art forms and become a “whole.” With technology as the instrument, stories as the contents, and performing and visual arts as the media, the strategic collaboration between art and technology combines visual, audio, physical, stage, interdisciplinary collaboration between artists, as well as the co-creative participation of artists and the public, to produce an art festival informed by narrative scenarios and characteristics of the Total Artwork.
Lin, Fang-Mei (2006). Reading the Romance Fictions by Chong Yao. Taipei: Commerce Press.
Hart, Hilary (2017). Body of Wisdom: Women’s Spiritual Power and How it Serves. Beijing: World Publishing Corporation. Lovelock, James (1994). Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Taipei: Commonwealth Publishing.
秋光，來自於《紅樓夢》第三八回：“秋光荏苒休孤負，相對原宜惜寸陰。” 也回應楊牧 《妙玉坐禪》「折疊的光影不斷扭曲，壓縮，破碎。」
「女媧」是中國神話故事中，人首蛇身的女神，煉製各種各樣的五色石子，將其熔化成漿後，修復水神共工與火神祝融爭鬥中，所造成的殘缺天窟窿，並摶土造人，制嫁娶之禮，延續人類生命，造化世上生靈萬物。希臘神話中的蓋婭（Gaia）則是古希臘神話中的大母神，創造了原始神祇和宇宙萬有的創造之母。1969年詹姆士˙洛夫洛克（James Lovelock）提出地球是一個具有生命的意識體，構成一個回饋或調控系統，並命名此假說為蓋婭假說(Gaia Hypothesis)，此命題不僅呼應女性為大地之母一詞，也回應女性的生命與身體特質。
林芳玫 (2006)。解讀瓊瑤愛情王國 。台北：臺灣商務印書館。
希拉里・哈特。 (2017)。女性的身體智慧。北京：世界圖書出版公司。 詹姆士˙洛夫洛克（1994）。蓋婭˙大地之母：地球是活的！。台北：天下文化