Pioneering video installation artist Yuan Goang-ming (袁廣鳴) will hold his first solo exhibition in the UK from June 20 to Aug. 6 at Southbank Centre's Hayward Gallery as part of the gallery's 50th anniversary celebrations.
Combining symbolic metaphors with technological media, his works review the state of contemporary existence, and explore the human mind and consciousness, which in turn have made him one of the foremost Taiwanese artists active in the global new media community.
Through a careful wielding of video techniques and film theories, Yuan challenges viewers and their perceptions of reality, transforming quotidian imagery into a poignant critique of the status quo in Taiwan.
Setting up at Hayward Gallery's Project Space, Yuan will have 1,300 square feet to display three sets of video installations — "Tomorrowland" (2018), "Everyday Manoeuvre" (2018), and "Landscape of Energy" (2014).
"Tomorrowland" revolves around the concept of home, delving into the perplexing state of the world today: the refugee crisis, ripple effects of the Cold War, return of populism, threat of imperialism and terrorism, and climate change. All this culminates in a picturesque world that calls to mind a massive theme park.
"Everyday Manoeuvre" documents the annual Wan-an air raid drill held in Taiwan, where all residents must comply with evacuation and safety procedures. Drones capture the drill from a bird's eye view, offering up a surreal cityscape of an empty Taipei City and a reminder of how threat still lurks across the strait.
"Landscape of Energy" shows an ominous nuclear power plant looming over a sandy tourist beach. Juxtaposing the living space of Taiwan with the unmeasurable danger of nuclear meltdown, Yuan raises questions over ecological sustainability and insatiable consumption of power.
Yuan's first UK solo exhibition is titled "Tomorrowland" after his latest work and entry will be free for all visitors. The video artist will also partake in Art Night — an annual contemporary arts festival that will transform London on the eve of July 7 — by having his 2014 video "Dwelling" projected onto the outer walls of Hayward Gallery.
"Dwelling" loops footage of a calm living space destroyed by turbulent waters to convey Yuan's apprehension of life and living, and his fear of annihilation. It takes inspiration from "…poetically man dwells…," a quote attributed to Germany philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) as he speculates on mankind's failure to dwell poetically, and how "unpoetic dwelling" has become the norm.