The fall of City Landmark v.s. The Poetry of Ruined Structures—

Degenerated bodies and traces


Author/Hai-Ming Huang(Director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum)


Unobtrusively lamented by the creator is the general lack of humanity in the society of Taiwan, where the people seem to be stymied under an indifferent, desolate, uneasy crippled, dubious and delirious mental stage. A quick take on the Represented Satus released in 1997 paints a process in which some inorganic mechanical parts are pieced and glued together, or could be one that describes the process in which primitive flesh degenerate, decompose into fragments that scattered around time and space. The work may have been intended to describe how modern people are carrying on an existence pieced by strange elements which can hardly qualify as human, yet remain incapable of reconciling the inner conflicts within. From a different perspective, conflict may hardly be it since some of the fragments may just be incompatible bits unrelated to the body, each going about its orbit. Upon closer examination, the traces of muscular clustering within the body contain more than just the addition process of stacking, but also the reduction process of shearing, milling and grinding, in a cyclical process from inorganic to organic, then organic to decomposition, which seems to conjure a grotesque allegation against the inhumanity in modern urban living.

Represented Satus
Represented Satus,steel,250×250×250 cm,1997。

In part one of the Convergence and Divergence Ⅰ where bodies move while shifting, dislodging then scattering, a primal yet cryptic link seems to bind the scattered bodily fragments together in a highly scattered manner. It is characteristics of Po-Chun Liu to want to place a dilapidated body within a space stringently marked by grids. To certain level, the realm in which a matrix built upon time and space as an “Anatomical Measurements” by some such as Velic Kovic as a way to measure the extreme behaviors of mankind, however, tends to measure the acts of death or self_destruction.

Solo Exhibition at National Taiwan Academy of Arts “Convergence and Divergence”
Convergence and Divergence I,Solo Exhinition at National Taiwan Academy of Arts,1997。

With the geometrical bounds painted by Po-Chun Liu “Anatomical Measurements” that appear safety and limiting enough, what he talks about in the intrinsically developed industrialization perhaps also cover the ever intertwined and complicated love_hate trepidation within the inner sanctum of a rational matrix that only exists in an ivory tower.

The lamentation does seem to manifest in his work of Pyramid, a icon that commemorates the industrialization empire and people living in it. The ruins of industrialization settings have been transformed by him into a poetic world rather than some form of harsh criticism. The dialogue between parts and components garners his work with a touch of whimsical harmony and liveliness that not only depicts the rustic industrial characteristics but also reflects a festive ceremonial scene. More plainly, what the visuals presented by such mechanical parts and the human organs consisting of such mechanical parts within a pyramid_like urban setting are feelings of abundance and amusement, a visual poetry consisting of mechanical fragments to the feast of eyes.

Pyramid,Stainless steel, Steel,270×50×270 cm,1999。

Notwithstanding a pyramid often depicts an authoritative totem waiting to be sieged in the continuum of symbols, the inhabitants in such pyramid or some sort of a free_standing tower after the collapse of modern high_rises, in Liu’s creation, seem to continue party on with unrelenting abandonment.

In part two of the Convergence and Divergence Ⅱ, a turnaround seems to have been taken by Po-Chun Liu in his perception toward metropolises or gargantuan structures. In a mausoleum setting where a bronze geometric frame lays on a four_step marble podium amid an all steel flooring resembling a steel sarcophagus which is empty, two mounts of headless and armless stainless_steel welding piles lay on the floor resembling the corpses of prehistoric giants with one facing up and the other down, laying motionlessly against the frigid stainless_steel floor. But none of the prehistoric giants defying all geometric logic has yet died but rather laid to rest for a few centuries as they are kept in revivable magnetic fields surrounded by an amphitheater_like podium supported by four upright Oriental pillars, or infinitely surging stone hedges, which need to be held down by a steel dome from continuing rising. An angelic figurine made of piled welding sits on the surface of a mat standing by one of the columns, a metaphor that heightens the upward transcendence common among his creations, but what with?

Torso,Stainless steel,180×6×40 cm,1999。

Many of his details allow us to deduce; for instance his Hand and Stairs where two very elongated ladders are placed in front of a sterile whitewall, and a pile_welded palm mounted atop seemingly reaching for the infinitive power above, has fallen short of emphasizing the upsurge determination, however.

Hand and Stairs,Stainless steel,80×80×240 cm,1999。

Some metaphorical symbols which intensify the symbolic implication of an elongated box are strategically placed in four elongated boxes made of stainless steel and acrylic, where bodily fragments of the head, hands, feet and torso slightly tinged with an archeological finds, permeating with a ailing and impaired sensual undertone. The perpetually suspended fragments divided by the harsh and frigid space within the modern architecture has not relies on bodily movements to break the bounds, but rather by the nonobject and poetic dynamics permeated within, such as lights and shadows projecting from and dividing within the framework, to connect the fragments in one.

Rectangular,Stainless steel, Steel,30×30×200cm each,1999。

His Figures series, containing seven stainless steel sculpted hollow heads, are stuffed with clouds, tree branches, frogs and an ancient dwelling. The fragments that resonate poetic power penetrates the caging head to the air around it murmuring within a poetic cosmos surrounding the head to from a larger celestial milky_way in order to recapture the imagery of a long_lost primitive touch.

With the power of upward mobility covered earlier, the pyramidal structure adopted In his creation does not seem to contain some of the negativity in contemporary culture, but remains truthful in conveying the transcendence from the materialism, sustenance and to spirituality. What we see earlier has not been just any ascension, but rather a lateral bond sanctioned by religion or poetry that permeates the world we live in and the nirvanas of poetic imagination beyond the material world, which brings forth another essential elements among his works_ the process of degradation.

Figures series
Figures series,Stainless steel,80×80×60cm each,1999。

For example, in his Angel’s Leg in 1999 a foot adored with coppery winged lace is seen stepping out of a square frame and reaching for the ground. In another Leg and Cube in 1999 is seen standing on a square cube made of clear resin, seemingly entrapped into an unknown abyss.

Angel’s Leg,Steel, Stainless steel, Aluminum, Gold leaf,30×30×30 cm。

Leg and Cube ,Aluminum, Lucite,50×30×30 cm,1999。

In his work of Forms . Separating . On Site, the dynamics of ascension and degradation play equal roles seen by a common ground and the subject built upon the exhibit venue’s marbled floors where all configured objects rest, implying that all objects seem to have fallen and emerge from there. The marble geometric cubes rising from the marbled floors give the impression of continuously rising stone hedges resting along the steps of the walls slowing surging from the marbled floors and climbing toward the ventless walls. The geometric shaped structures have not been lifeless among his creations but rather things that procreate, a substance between a structure and life form; for instance, the ten_plus marble columns rising from the ground can be vaguely interpreted as a human form but rather weathered and edges smoothed out, let along the passages of the vital sensory organs have already been stuffed to become deft, blind, mute and breathless. It may very well be a life concealed within a closed solid form deprived of sensory by touch that gradually reverts to a variable geometric paramecia, bearing the geometric searing and punching by the machine. Will this be a process of ascent then descent, or a tumultuous moment in which the disappearing feelings and impulse for life are fought?

Cubes and the Floor
Cubes and the Floor,Marble,30×30×30cm each,1999。

Stairs and stairs
Stairs and stairs,Marble,Dimensions variable,1999。

Faces series
Faces series,Marble,145×20×20cm each,1999。

A more dramatic interpretation lies in a bed of marble comforter, being the same material as the floor, and laid to rest against the floor, what differs it from the hard floor is its softness like flesh, and breathable like a living organism, something between the live and death rising from lifeless marbled floors, then subsiding below the horizon it exanimated state. While the bodily fragments atop the comforter, line to the correlations ween the comforter to the marbled floors, continued with small_scale resurging, awakening from death and ignorance as if the world is being devoured by incongruity in a reciprocal duel process. A tiny hand laid on the floor conveying the same undertone _ it seems to want to spring up from an ubiquitous marble slab struggling to growth but the fleshy buds quickly receded into the ubiquitous sphere, highlighting the debate and infusion of the two orders in his creations.

Stone Quilt
Stone Quilt,Marble,600×300×30 cm,1999。

Hand,Marble,80×80×40 cm,1999。

Continuing the theme of a primitive giant waiting to be awakened in a steel sarcophagus, a related creation has the giants standing up, seemingly transforming it to an Uncontrollable beasts, two androids made of numerous parts of primal evil and hostility standing in a cold cement structure, liken to many of the modern high_rises that house major corporations rising from the horizon.

It seems he wound rather disintegrate the bodies to avoid the monsters from coming around but rather to create one after another of configured sonnets with fossilized beastly remains. Yet besides the building blocks of a conceptual configuration, an urban stage within a spatial system is needed to make the poetic sonnet jive, which will require us to go back and re-examine the fallen horizon mentioned a few times earlier.


Fallen space vs. elevator landing

Perhaps the lack of a comprehensive coverage on the spatial concept proposed by the primitive cubism, the space layout in cubical painting has not had the external elements substituted by geometric spheres, cones and cubes, such as the earlier works of Leger. Nor has it been influenced by a three_dimensional visual image being compressed into a flat, painted relief mode, which is conceptualized as the relief space is further compressed into a weightless two_dimensional space, for example the ultimate conceptualism, where a two_dimensional space predominates by flat surfaces free of any external interference.

Nevertheless I would much rather say, the Conceptualism has evolved from the realm of imitating the realistic three_dimensional space, or one that depicts a two_dimensional creativity space, yet the two_dimensional conceptualism painting can hardly be the ultimate objectivity of primitive cubism within the spatial confine. It is not built upon tangible tings, but rather the experience of a new urban setting, which is not difficult to find in many primitive cubism paintings, particularly the example of analytical cubism paintings, where certain edge of an emerging block always appears value and somehow trapped in some kind of unknown nirvanas.

To broach from the perspective of background baseline, the common ground has been disintegrated, meaning the substance and form of many exposed cubes floating on such ubiquitous space have been skewed, and fallen into the formless ubiquity beyond the baseline of a painting, similar to the fragments of a ship’s steel haul or a giant steel framework of an urban dwelling has broken off and fallen into the seabed of North Pole.

Yet the key point has not been the facsimile of a seemingly three_dimensional space being flattened into a two_dimensional once, but rather as a solid normalization of horizon where all things rest, be it a steel/concrete or steel paneled structure extended toward the sky, or subterranean floors. Within the space of an urban settings linked by elevators among other frequently used transport means, such as subway and airplanes that interwoven between major global cities, require almost everyone to intermittently dwell in fluctuation of changes and be confronted with varied distances to the horizon. Of course there are other extraordinary phenomena, such as the weightless confine, where horizon No longer exists as a reference point. Perhaps the horizon has not really been besieged, a mobile stage consisting of many moving platforms have placed the world that people live in, and a concealed automotive space would allow people to traverse in and weave around such mobile moving stage consists of infinite number of platforms large or small.

As opposed to earlier mankind who judge things from the ground level, changes to the spatial experience with common elevator rides going up or down by modern high_rise dwellers have revolutionized the upward perspectives now with a downward one viewing by city blocks. Sky_rocketing high_rises which have spring up from the horizon going both ways toward the sky and stratum provide an ever_changing perspectives as one stands on the loggy of a high_ rise looking at the glass_enclosed elevator going up and down, or riding in one to see the world changes in visual perspectives. The extremity can perhaps be best illustrated through the motion picture Fifth Elements, in which taxies are flying and traversing over passages formed between towering buildings and amid a web of modern aerial transportation means.

The experience of major quakes does indicate that such buildings not only rise from the horizon but can fall from great heights, all the way down to the subterranean floors until reaching the domain of death. Depicted in some horror flicks are exactly how housing complexes built upon cemeteries can fall into stratum cracks in an earth_shattering storm, while the occupants below ground crawl out from their coffins to devour the living space of later inhabitants that dwell on top of their habitats? This goes to show that not only buildings can rise from the grounds of death, going all the way to the penthouse, or extended by choppers to higher even higher grounds, while selected subjects may be transported through UFO or teletransportation to worlds unknown, like many plots depicted in the Si Fi movies.

The account above is merely attempting to utilize normal experience and Si_ Fi plots which are becoming the mainstream as ways to illustrate how the collective experience in today’s society has gathered to form new spatial models. Perhaps the development should not stray too far, nor the domain of sculpting may never be besieged by the fallen foundation in a common space; nevertheless, it remains irrefutable that the close relative to the spatial configuration of sculpting has already been manifested in architecture.

Yet suppose none of his bizarre spatial logics, or every_changing framework and derivation has ever been deciphered from Liu’s creations, the wondrous relations between the fragmented bodily parts will never be established, leaving his device_oriented sculpture exhibits to disarray, redundant, or even fallen into common creations.

The purpose of the writing aims to guide the readers to broach his creations via the

spatial hierarchy. Unique among his works is a whimsical interpretation of the new world, a territory that many sculptors advise their followings to leave alone. It is a virtual reality interlaced with physical poetry existed within the visual cyberspace made possible by the Internet age, where the creations of Po-Chun Liu brings us a glimpse of the other side, an artistic redemption inseparable for an increasingly inhumane urban setting.


The poetic logics overtaking the physical network

Upon examining Liu’s device_oriented sculpting creations, what intrigue me more may not be the malleability of many aspects of sculpting that confronts him.

What concerns me more is the sustenance system behind all these objects, and what has been taken apart by modernity goes more than material objects, like what the analytical cubism is trying to show us. While the assemblage of modernity also goes more than fragments of objects, much like the later stage of integrated cubism, while the collective objects of all things contemporary are earlier thoughts of an Internet age. The fundamental changes behind the Internet era lies in the fact that the once_thought uniform space which can be penetrated by insulated passages at any given time can, in fact, intersect infinitely but never collide since their physiological traits and key logics do not come to divide objects but rather infinite intertwining of communication channels. Suppose we are to define the intangible image of a space in which the information is relayed, it is fair to say that the infinite crisscrossing of spatial passages may overlap and divide within infinity for varied physiological elements, but rather as an alternative thinking to the conventional sculpting thoughts of blocking by supremacy or contracting by tangibility but never devouring the opponent. With a new set of logics gradually taking shape through the physical poetry of an emerging Internet cyberspace formed by future contemporary archaeological fragments and intertwined intangible passages, Po-Chun Liu is walking along a thin line.