The Story of Hoping Island
one-channel video installation, 12' 40", 2008
Music supervisor: Fang Yan Xiang
The Story of Hoping Island was shot in a shipyard on Hoping Island in Keelung, which has 88 years of history. During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, it was the Japanese government’s southernmost shipyard, and as such, it supported Imperial Japanese, southward expansion. After the retrocession of Taiwan, the shipyard played a key role in Taiwan’s economic takeoff. This shipyard represents a highly compressed, symbolic timeframe, from WWII to now. The shipyard reflects how the locals identify themselves based on their specific, local histories, and at the same time, how the national government encodes and directs history. To support this history, complicated traditions and myths are continually developed and developing. So Hsu, Chia-Wei shot this shipyard, a real space, and responded to the shipyard’s other historical side: the legend.
The whole scene of The Story of Hoping Island was shot in the shipyard in Hoping Island. Artist invited his grandmother to describe the situation in Japanese (She had received Japanese education). Through the process of narratives, this place seems remote and deserted caused of no people appeared in the video. (Actually, there are usually numerous of workers) In this work, artist regarded this shipyard as a memory crystal to develop the narratives. Through the complexity of place and memory, this place becomes an effective instrument to reproduce memory.
In this video, an artist-created creature—Ni-Ku is the only element to connect to the narrative. It has weightless science-fictional characteristic: both the military detector and the luminary. Artist also put electronic music with shattered rhythms in the background. Through this tiny creature, this work responds to the grand era and so do the fictional narratives respond to the politics statement. It also permeates through history, memory and dream. Or we could say that history itself seems like memory and dream to some extent. There is many usage of “light” in this work, including the luminous Ni-Ku in the narratives, sparkling gem-like light in the shipyard, the lighting in the end of the video, and also the physics light from projector in the space. In the illusory dimension, with its light-like non-material characteristic, this work transits the immense and heavy history to a legend.
The Story of Hoping Island lies in constantly-overlapped process of history and dream, image space and physical space, reality and fiction. While national governments continuously constructed its own identification, this work becomes a weightless, fictional space, and provides a breathing break.