Musquiqui Chihying :
There Are Lights That Never Go Out
27 July – 19 Sept 2021
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
Exhibition view at MoCA Taipei © 2021. Left: The Lighting. Right: The Kung Flu
"There Are Lights That Never Go Out is inspired by the Mandarin title of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, which engages in the deconstruction and a dialectic process based on objects, photographic technologies, image history and the generative network of digital image apart from discussing the power relation between a photographer and his photographic subject. Objects and stories, when we see or learn about them, all carry full yet fragmented narratives. As the artist makes his observations, he also decides on his angle to carry out his research; like pulling an end of a thread strongly, the whole structure of a piece of fabric then becomes ruffled and shown. By reinterpreting images, creating drawings that imitate machine-made prints and conducting a lecture performance, the artist presents narrative remake and reconstruction through his research of image.
Oddities and humor in all narratives are taking place at the same time, and the decisions that everyone makes comprise the main narratives arcs. Then, the foremost question after establishing the importance of individual world-making2 is: what actions will you take?"
- Extract, Text by Yen Yi Lee / curator
Three-channel video installation, 21 min on loop, 5.1 sound, 2021
Video Preview: https://vimeo.com/580817549
Light is the specter that hovers arounds photographic technologies. From analog to digital and from light-sensitive coating to computer algorithms, light always occupies an irreplaceable place in competing image-making technologies. Throughout the process of negotiating with light, however, it is now obvious that human prejudices have unknowingly and almost imperceptibly infiltrated this competition. Filmmaker Godard is one of the first people who became aware of this crisis: when he was in Mozambique assisting the African country’s development of image in the 70s, he realized that Kodak films that were mainstream of the time could not be accurately exposed for portraits featuring subjects of dark skin tones. We cannot simply attribute this technical failure to inadequate equipment for the reason that even the most advanced algorithms used today still show a rather high error rate when determining certain races and skin tones.
Experimental video The Lighting aims to revisit and clarify the problem of discrimination rooted in technological development through an interdisciplinary exploration. The work comprises three narratives—a professional Togolese photographer explores how to use instruments to compensate insufficient exposure for dark skin tones; software engineers developing facial recognition algorithms at Taiwan’s MediaTek talk about how they have created a camera algorithm that is highly popular in Africa; moreover, the artist uses Kodak’s Ektachrome, a popular film in the 70s, to produce a kung fu film in the style of exploitation film, using images of famous Black martial art film star, Jim Kelly, in Bruce Lee’s movies in the 70s. The work is also interlaced with an animated Bruce Lee as the narrator trained by facial motion capture and a speech recognition algorithm.