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New media designer-filmmaker | Chou Tung-yen

  • Date:2020-08-04
New media designer-filmmaker | Chou Tung-yen

Name: 周東彥
Born: 1982
Place of Birth: Taipei
Did You Know...?
On May 24, 2019 when lawmakers in Taiwan passed a groundbreaking bill legalizing same-sex marriage, Chou Tung-yen (周東彥), the artist-in-residence at the National Theatre & Concert Hall, put on an advertisement seeking for the love of his life. The eye-catching move is part of the Taipei-born artist's project "Will You Marry Me? (國家級約會計畫)" aimed at making the gay community in the nation heard. Through the "Will You Marry Me?" project, Chou also wanted to convey a message loud and clear – people have the right to love who they wish to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation.

Director-scenographer Chou's creations are mainly in the form of theatrical performance and imagery. Through blending digital imageries, physical movement, and elements of theatre, Chou has given birth to numerous acclaimed interdisciplinary productions.

The 38-year-old was not born in the age of mobile phones and the Internet, but as the world has become increasingly digital, he started to demonstrate his creative energy, which spontaneously enables him to apply digital technology that has been inseparable from life in his creations.

Chou's passion for theater and visual arts developed from a young age, leading him to embark on a creative career that branched out to new media design, digital performance arts, and video production. He sees these fields as a natural application of visual arts, and hopes to encapsulate what is modern and contemporary about this era.

After graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London with a master degree in Scenography, Chou transformed his passion in creating imageries and theatrical performances into an actual profession by founding Very Mainstream Studio (狠主流多媒體) in 2010, and Very Theatre (狠劇場) in 2013. While the former presents multi-media designs and experimental short films, the latter strives to bring audience an innovative theatrical experience.

One production after another, Chou keeps making a splash in Taiwan. His first documentary feature "Voyage in Time (時間之旅)" was nominated for Best Documentary at 2012 Golden Horse Awards.

In 2013, Chou released his award-winning creation "Emptied Memories (空的記憶)" – a theatrical production that explores the relevance of memory, space, and nothingness. With the help of panoramic video, real-time image processing, sensors, and wireless stage control system, the multi-media work paints a dreamy world of fantasies and reality for the audience.

While his 2015 documentary "My Leftover Ladies (剩女,真的?)" was selected for Tartu World Film Festival, Estonia, Chou's 2017 documentary "Looking For? (你找什麼)" on app-oriented dating in the gay community was screened at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival.

Chou is also a longtime collaborator of established Taiwan dance troupes such as Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. In 2018, "Formosa (關於島嶼)," a Cloud Gate Dance Theatre production accompanied by Chou's interactive design, garnered prizes for Best Projection Design at the 2018 Knight of Illumination Awards in London.

Although classified as someone from a relatively young generation that use digital technology to create artworks, the traditional concepts of theater he learned from college has taken roots. For the artist, script text and story-telling still are the core of his theatrical production and imagery creation.

In the opening event of the 2019 Tea Philo series in Malaysia on Jan. 19, Chou said he challenges himself in each of his creation, so as to encourage young artists to take on something new head on. In addition, Chou said he seeks to dispel the rigid definition of "mainstream" and create timeless artworks that go beyond profit-making and transcends the boundary of art and culture.