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An interdisciplinary work explores human-machine relationship

Taiwan’s new media artist Wang Lien-cheng.
Photo from DAC
Taiwanese new media artist Wang Lien-cheng.

By Yali Chen
 
Taiwanese new media artist Wang Lien-cheng (王連晟) is showcasing his new artwork at the Taipei Digital Art Center (Taipei DAC) until March 28. Titled “The Scenery of Little Light” (無光風景), the interdisciplinary work combines dance, drama, and technology.
 
“It was also created for the National Taichung Theater,” said Wang, who is an artist-in-residence for 2019–2020 at the Theater and Taipei DAC.

Director Chen Yow-ruu (陳侑汝) (right) talks to choreographer-dancer Tien Hsiao-tzu (田孝慈) (center) during a rehearsal.
Photo from DAC
Director Chen Yow-ruu (陳侑汝) (right) talks to choreographer-dancer Tien Hsiao-tzu (田孝慈) (center) during rehearsal.
 
Wang’s work centers around three major issues. The first is the relationship between humans and machines. The second is the development of artificial intelligence. In the interdisciplinary performance, a robot housekeeper takes care of the daily needs of a blind, deaf, and dumb woman. The third issue is racial and sexual inequality in modern society. “In our society, who assigns the right to free speech??” the artist asks. During the performance, the robot housekeeper has the right to speak, but the blind woman does not.

A dancer rehearses for the digital performance.
Photo from DAC
A dancer rehearses for the digital performance.

Choreographer-dancer Tien Hsiao-tzu rehearses with a housekeeping robot.
Photo from DAC
Choreographer-dancer Tien Hsiao-tzu rehearses with a housekeeping robot.
 
According to the digital artist, “In the near future, our daily life will be closely connected with AI-powered machines.” He wonders whether people can change this seemingly irrevocable course.
 
With the rapid advancements in robotics, robots are becoming smarter and are almost able to act like people. At the end of the performance, Wang poses the prickly question, “Will robots eventually be able to replace human beings?”
 
Wang’s interdisciplinary work on stage puts great emphasis on the interaction between humans and machines. Using wearable devices, viewers can become part of the interaction.

A visitor watches the robot butler.
Photo from DAC
A visitor looks at the robot butler.
 
The digital artist’s works include interactive installations and sound art performances. In recent years, he has been working on using algorithms to combine sound and image.
 
Now a full-time lecturer at the National Taipei University of Arts, Wang has won first prize at the Taipei Art Awards, Digital Art Festival Taipei, and Lumen Prize in London. His works have been exhibited and performed at world-renowned art festivals, such as the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, and the Ostrale Biennale for Contemporary Art in Dresden, Germany.