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One Click: Save or Delete? Notes on the Last Strike of Lin-Chi-Wei’sNoise House/by Esther Lu

One Click: Save or Delete? Notes on the Last Strike of Lin-Chi-Wei’s Noise House

Text:Esther LU (

My memory, sir, is like a dustbin. – Jorge Luis Borges,

The Relentless Memory The idea that the work of art is an active interchange, a switchboard of force, where one of the critical links always in play on the level of force relations, even if formally and thematically indistinct, is the connection to history and society, provides a counterargument to the notions of commodity and aesthetic object. – Krzysztof Ziarek, The Force of Art As one of the leading figures of the 1990s underground noise culture in Taiwan, Lin Chi-wei is known for his capacity to instigate and transform power that could not be eclipsed by the difficulties in perceiving an overview of his practices in diverse fields. The insightful observation and knowledge on cultural impetus rooted in Lin’s work, whether taking its form as a performance, installation or work in other media, often indicates an alternative subversion as to navigate subjectivity transgression. Exploring the development and exposure of an indistinct primitive state, his work invalidates the boundaries of sensation and concept, and invites a glimpse to its sociohistorical context and bewildering power legitimation. The work The Last Strike of Lin-Chi-Wei’s Noise House presented in the exhibition Altered States continues to experiment with the relationship between Lin’s personal biographical narrative and the narrative of history: an entangled prolonged spatial-temporal tension in an dialectic resonance with the era of the 90s, whence the Student Revolt of Taiwan (1990) and many underground activities started booming against the social environment of the post-martial law Taiwan. Lin Chi-wei and Xu Ya-zhu transplant the complete structure and the archive of Lin’s private room, where was once an important social venue for various gatherings of international noise artists as well as his personal studio and living base in the 90s, in the exhibition space at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The display comprises a large number of the documents from the underground activities throughout the 90s flyers, news clippings, videos well as Lin’s personal objects, such as stereo, glasses, clothes, bed, wardrobe, desk, and etc. The 1:1 room model re-constructed into an underground tomb style serves as a slice of frozen moment will be viewed from an encircling walkway above, where adopts a museum strategy of display to exhibit the selected documents in chronological order. In addition to the historical documents, there will be a recent photographic work showing the room in its original setting as a clue to its lingering aura, and a computer on site for the real-time open online auction of the display (with the exception of the historical documents, as they are not possessed by Lin-Chi-Wei but history per se). People could log on eBay to bid for this cultural heritage all over the globe. The exposition centers on Taiwan’s underground noise movement in the 1990s, and its significance lies not only in a revolt against the oligarchic sociopolitical condition, but also in a reflection upon the elitist ideology that held a monopoly on the student movement. Lin argues that the student movement irrationally lost track of cultural theory and consciousness, and thus formed an empty sarcasm. In fact, Lin regards the student movement as it’s perfectly inherited the legacy of Japanese colonial militarism, Chiang Kai-shek’s fascism and his son Chiang Ching-kuo’s Taiwanese version of China Youth League culture, eventually resulting in a form of brute authoritarianism on the plaza, just like the forces they were opposing.As If the Student Revolt is faded into history and the attempt of the noise movement to de-construct academic music also failed in the 90s, this exposition is to, again, de-construct the noise movement of the 90s. It looks back upon the basic nature of noise as a desire for difference and a desire to escape being swallowed by society and the media. The intent of the work is to announce the death of the noise movement in Taipei and to deliberate what’s noises really is in today’s society. There is an epical intent cast throughout Lin Chi-wei’s living and artistic practices. Since the early 90s, Lin has been instigating to project a force field that could synergize or re-circulate power in order to push limits to the edges. Lin organizes the first noise group in Taiwan, curates avant-garde events such as Sickly Sweet Caf矇, Broken Life Festival series with Wu Chung-wei and works on numerous other avant-garde events. His works have been produced in various forms through noise, action, theatre, film, painting and etc. The long history that he engages with the contemporary art scene of Taiwan for one and half decades marks a trajectory to portrait Lin’s relation to the sociopolitical context of the local contemporary art development and dialectic exchanges with the international art community. Philosophically and literally, Lin-Chi-Wei’s practice conveys a self-referentialism to indicate issues of his situated reality from the era of Student Revolt to the deliberated present, whence there is nothing crazier than the current society, as values, conditions and cultures are submerged into a stream of digital information or an entertaining political joke in the media. To acknowledge the evolving historical condition, Lin’s recent works pose a different gesture in reflexivity to the status quo. His last solo exhibition, Lin-Chi-Wei: An Exposition of Unbelievable Hardcore Noises, acts as a subversion to his noise practice in presenting a congealed embodiment of sound in a white cube gallery space via voiceless visual components. Installation, documentary films of his performance, sound sketch, its transformed fax music and other visual objects explore the imagination of sound for an exhibition. Through this attempt, the artist becomes the curator, and the avant-garde artworks become conceptual works of art. The artist’s relation to history is altered from making/preserving history to narrating/releasing history; Lin-Chi-Wei reveals the weight history piles on him (and us). In The Last Strike of Lin-Chi-Wei’s Noise House, artists further undertake an examination for an important period of cultural development in Taiwanese history. In this vibrant account of cultural record mixed with personal history, Lin Chi-wei and Xu Ya-zhu aim to create an alternative review on history by building an index of the past and fashioning the devices to reconnect history with future in contemporary vocabulary. It is not exclusively a document collection or an archive, like The Folk Archive (2005) by Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, but is closer to an activator. Its online auction part tests what price the consumerism society values its historical artifacts of its past underground culture, and the public debates and exchange in its online forum reflect this ongoing process. Lin analyzes the power structure of the work with the following analogy: The noise artists and bands of the 1990s are like grass feeding a lamb (shown in the tomb area). I am the main dish, the lamb (also in the tomb). Xu Ya-zhu is the cook (the actual producer of the work). The curator Amy Cheng is the hostess (as she provided the concept of the document display for the work). Taipei Fine Arts Museum is the restaurateur, the National Culture and Art Foundation is the investor behind the scenes, and the public are the diners eating the lamb.In other words, the interaction and contribution of the various participants make the meaning of the work manifest, and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum plays the role of officially recognizing (or mistaking) the work as art. If we take it further, these aforementioned roles could still function seamlessly even after exchanging their positions. From a metaperspective, even if the participants exchanged their aforementioned roles, it would still function seamlessly. Every participant may play the role of either artist or consumer. This work is sustained by various uncontrollable conditions, and transmits history for tomorrow in an ambitious act. Yet the artist fully recognizes the will this work requires, and even if it ultimately proves ineffectual (as it depends on an exhibition for its impact), it is still consolidated through a collective consciousness. Therefore, he has only created an apparatus, or rather, an ambience that allows such conditions to be possible. This exposition incorporates a ritualistic attribute to extend its performative action. Using a transformative process, the work/exposition releases its possession of history, position and aura. Through the relocation of the room, the display strategy and its self-destructive attempt, a nostalgia awakening revives and again submerges into the waves of multiplying present, which becomes a reflexive metaphor’s call for the ghost of noise, or the total annihilation state of Taiwanese culture. This is not a sound installations yet still a work of sound arts Throughout his practice, Lin has used his body as the main mediums as is the instrument, he is the sound, he is the meat. He is also the real collector that Walter Benjamin describes in the essay snpacking My Librarys who lives in the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects: and ow he is going to disappear inside, as is only fittings(1). Lin opens himself up as a hole, allowing history to flow through to reach the future. He confronts the crisis of a period of personal history coming to an end, being priced and sold; nevertheless, he also implies a new strategy of folding his several directions into a single devotion to mapping the plateaus of his mindscape and art. To borrow Ziarek’s concept on art as forcework, the crux of Lin Chi-wei’s practices, which can be seen as the disposition of forces, is its capacity to redraw the boundaries and delimitations constitutive of the aesthetic conceptualization of art: subject/object, form/content, internal/external(2). The frequency of Lin Chi-wei’s work goes beyond boundaries and squats forces from arbitrary paths he leads in a groundbreaking remaking, while his work calls for serious attentions to the contemporary society where the first fundamental principle of cultures ur memory survives. With the restless effort to recoil between the tradition and constitution of art and to bequeath his temporary personal existence, Lin Chi-wei further performs an extending and almost rhythmical interpretation of art in a genuine autonomy. Reference: 1. Benjamin, Walter. Illumination. London: Pimlico, 1999, p 69. 2. Ziarek, Krzysztof. The Force of Art. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2004, p 22.