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Breaking into Yao-Chi City, Expand New Creative Horizons for Taiwan’s Paranormal Culture

2019/07/19

Living on this island of truly enigmatic enchantment, we have heard all kinds of paranormal stories and legends since we were kids, or have seen the monsters and ghosts in various forms of mass culture, but we have never been able to explore the truth behind them. For the first time, National Museum of Taiwan Literature and Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-Lab) collaborate for a coproduction, combining elements of literature, art, anime, and illustration, taken from the magical spectrum of paranormal literature and contemporary art, to present the “Yao-Chi City: Taiwanese Paranormal Literature and Contemporary Art Exhibition,” brining all the monsters to Taipei and creating a magical site of a hundred years of solitude in Taiwan. The exhibition opens until September 15, 2019, in C-Lab.

Following the “Enchanted Taiwan – Ghouls & Goblins” special exhibition organized by National Museum of Taiwan Literature in 2018, this exhibition is jointly curated by Gong Jow-jiun, Lo Chuan-ciao, and Wang Chia-ling. With the assistance of Taipei Legend Studio, National Center for High-Performance Computing, Institute for Information Industry, and Cultural Tech Alliance, Taiwan, the curators use the texts of four writers as the foundation of the exhibition, and gather a total of 34 diverse creative teams: 8 teams of contemporary artists and architects, six teams of illustrators, six teams of sound and theater artists, and six teams of VR/AR film, anime, and game producers. The teams utilize the old Air Force Headquarters Library in C-Lab as exhibition venue, allowing visitors to embark on a journey in search of monsters in the two-storied building.

From “Little Deification (Xiao Fengshen)” by Hsu Bing-ding, and “Strange Tale of the Bridal Fan (Jokai ōgi Kidan)” by Haruo Sato during the Japanese Colonial period, to the mass cultural creations that continue to illustrate paranormal ambience over the past century, an alternative and diverse world has been build. “Witch Way” by novelist Badai and “Killing Ghosts” by Gan Yao-ming once again put the focus onto local paranormal literature, guiding readers to read paranormal activities from the perspective of urbanism. In addition to literature periods, the exhibition also cooperates with National Center for High-Performance Computing’s NARLabs to use iFlyover 3D for an overview of Taiwan’s geographical features, outlining an unprecedented aerial site of Taiwanese monsters. Also, the exhibition gathers visual artists across different generations, such as Zakurokun, Chang Kiya, and Miaogong Jun-Yang, as well as scenic painter Chen Kuan-liang, comic artist Akru, and board game Chiaoschiaos, to bring legends and monsters alive through works of diverse brushstrokes and styles.

The exhibition has specially built a classic innovative scenery, allowing visitors to take a peek through mist and water at the school of water ghosts where desks and chairs are suspended—without seeing any ghosts or monsters, visitors can still sense the spooky atmosphere. “Monster City of the Dreams” on second floor is a panoramic interactive projection that corresponds to visitors’ route and gradually opens up windows to the city’s sceneries, allowing visitors to experience the coexistence of men and monsters. Furthermore, the exhibition has invited artist Hsu Tzu-kuey’s series of works and Hou Chun-ming’s “Anecdotes about Spirits and Immortals” to be showcased at the event, as well as the mock archaeological site of giants and monsters, “The Remains of Giants and Monsters” by Tu Wei-cheng, which will be displayed outside the venue. The curatorial team aims to create a place where all the paranormal creatures of literature, folk tales, and contemporary culture, can make their voices heard; also, through the perspective of critical supernaturalism, the exhibition attempts to restore the splendid looks of Taiwanese monsters.

Curator Gong Jow-jiun also proposes original IP creations by local teams to be the four major attractions of this cultural coproduction: first, “Illusory” and “A-nger” created by Lee Lingzi and Kent Animation + NARLabs based on Badai’s novel “Witch Way;” second, the panoramic interactive projection “Monster City of the Dream” produced by Engine Studios; third, AR three-dimensional book “The Corner of Impression” produced by Aries Creative; and lastly, high-definition VR tour guide model created for the exhibition by Institute for Information Industry and its sponsored company.

A series of activities are also organized during the exhibition. For the opening ceremony on July 14, National Treasure Yang Show-king and Taiwan Liam-kua Smile Folksong Group have been invited to give exiting performances. The popular Monster Academy Seminar Series will continue until the end of the exhibition. On July 20, 21, C-Lab will host a film festival of monsters, and Giant Monster Parade on August 1 and 30. We welcome everyone to come to C-Lab and experience the paranormal ambience during the Zhongyuan Festival, reigniting the robust and vibrant Yao-Chi City of the folk society.