UBC | Digital Visions
Digital Visions
Tsui Kuang-Yu
Writer: Michelle Kuen Suet Fung       Edited by: Sylvia Borda

At a recent conference held at the Chinese Taipei Film Archive, artist Tsui stresses his works are not performances but actions where the audience is essential for the performance. Indeed the Chinese name for Action Art is "Action Recording" where the emphasis in this reading of the Chinese character set is not on the performative aspect, but rather the various activities. This concept follows well with Tsui's own thoughts, he believes his video tapes, resulting artworks, are documents that enable a secondary audience to experience his actions.

Tsui's works cater to Taiwanese and other cultural audiences and do not require an intimate understanding of the local political climate. Tsui light-heartedly has stated he could easily sell his actions art techniques on the streets of New York or London if ever needed. Indeed his universal actions reply on comical appeal and this assists in opening his work to a larger potential viewership. His videos are sketches of human interaction where no words or music are utilized and as such there is hardly any specific cultural implication in the scenes' setups.

In his early work The Welcome Rain Falling from the Sky, 1997, the artist plays a darkly humourous game. The lens I directed towards a grey concrete wall where Tsui is depicted in the middle jumping between sides of the image plane to avoid falling objects-first a flower pot, then a motorcycle, and other ridiculous, indistinguishable heavy objects. At the end of the minute-long video, the artist graciously hops out of the frame. Tsui, dressed in a white shirt, black track slacks and sandals, looks like a camper rather than an artist, escapes the various attacks of heavy objects in a spontaneous video-game.

The objects may be metaphors recanting to viewers about the bleak and unexpected assaults in life. When Tsui jumps out of the frame in the end, the viewers are left to reexamine their own lives and inadvertly through this pause are caught up in the graphics and re-watch the video. His art which is closely aligned to depiction of banal events seems inexplicable. Tsui creates works which reside between humor and absurdity, it is left to the viewers how to judge, rationalize and insert themselves into this model.

Tsui's ability to address introspective and social issues through his playful and staged constructs are critical to both his success and to connecting with viewers. Through investigating life and its gestures, the artist aestheticizes again the mundane and brings forward the absurd through do it yourself (DIY) actions. Each video Tsui produces is a proposal and a document of a DIY project as considered through the artist's lens. His seemingly low budge filming and editing reflect and highlight the DIY aesthetic while positioning the viewer to be drawn into the scene and its related actions depicted within it. Whether objects are falling or the artist is seen skipping through water logged halls. Tsui asks the viewer to watch, be amused and question these gestures in relation to a history of art practice. Each video depicts a physical feat that Tsui accomplishes in the frame-its reading and definition like a history of Taiwanese art are left open. Both the history ad narrative of each piece seem unmediated but Tsui compels the viewer to take part and become part of its final delivery.

For Tsui, he believes any technological changed in delivery of his work will not impact it or its message. Indeed the artist is prepared that every 2-3 ears his low budget media of video will evolve and so will his response in co-opting this form through its DIY aesthetics. What Tsui has been able to accomplish through his video work to dates, is to produce a body of images, that through their staging show a confidence and maturity of Taiwanese art which no longer reflects directly its social history but rather indirectly comments on a history of social presentation and interpretation of art to a wider audience. Through the familiarity of both the images and actions, Tsui beckons viewers to participate and complete the action or dare to its end. This completion of action by the viewer through this process is Tsui's art and success.

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