Time and Light in Wu Chi-Tsung’s Art

in the studio

Recently, Wu Chi-Tsung was invited by Sean Kelly Gallery to shoot a short video named In the StudioIn this abstract yet frank video, Wu Chi-Tsung presents a poetic dance with one of his favorite materials – light. Employing long-exposures, he is visualising the battles and joys in search of inspiration as he follows the guidance of a beam of light in his once pitch-dark studio.

Let there be light. For Wu Chi-Tsung, light is the catalyst in his art, and time devoted in his darkroom allows beauty to gently appear. British video artist David Hall coined the term ‘time-based art’ in 1972, which refers to the art forms that require a certain amount of time to be fully revealed. While the concept was devised with traditional art forms such as paintings and sculptures in mind, and also emphasized the duration of time and the scale in space, Wu Chi-Tsung tends to interpret it in a reversed way. He deliberately uses time as a tool to blur the boundary between new media art and traditional art and to redefine moving and still images. 

long time exposed landscape
Long Time Exposed Landscape, 2004

The necessity of long exposure is shared in most of Wu Chi-Tsung’s still works, such as the Cyano-Collage Series, the Wrinkled Texture Series, and the Long Time Exposed LandscapeTherefore, these works all contain a considerable scale of time and momentum. They have become a living fossil in which a complete time axis is fused together.

In Chinese, the phrase that represents a long period of time is Shiguang (時光), which is a combination of the words for Time (時) and Light (光). The considerable time that Wu Chi-Tsung spends battling with, adapting to, and coping with time and light is a key feature of his works. He tends to focus on simple techniques and daily objects, still he devotes himself to research time and light and applying his learnings to the original material and turning it into something completely different from, and even opposite to, commonplace perceptions. 

cyano-collage series
Wu Chi-Tsung tend to transfer daily objects into poetic sceneries of Eastern aesthetics 

As one of the furthest-developed works so far, the Cyano-Collage Series demands a large amount of ‘exposed paper’ for paper-reading and collage. As hours of sunlight reacts with the cyanotype chemistry on the Xuan paper, the ordinary wrinkles on the paper transcend their physical features and gain a similar spiritual quality as in traditional ink painting. After this, the artist observes the textures and folds of every paper, to ‘read’ and contemplate them, and pick the ones that evoke and inspire the artist the most. For this precious ‘decisive moment’, which is almost one in a hundred, processing and storing paper have become a daily routine. 

For his installation and video works that are more qualified to be called ‘time-based art’, time seems to be wasted or irrelevant. It moves forward, yet sometimes cycles; it goes by, yet sometimes stalls. As a reversed interpretation of time involving the artist’s understanding of Asian philosophies, these works have contributed to the complicity of the artist’s exploration of temporality. For instance, the Still Life Series, the Landscape in the Mist Series, and the Dust share a similar sense of stillness, in effect an almost nerdy gaze. Although these works last up to ten minutes, the visual message conveyed by the film tends to be relatively monolithic, as if they are a still frame stretched to fit a time axis. Nevertheless, it is exactly the seemingly meaningless gaze and the ostensibly wasted time that reveals the artist’s obsessed fascination and adamant aestheticism towards the object before the camera.  Give it time.

The Dust at Light Interdiction, Kunstfest Weimar 2019 in Germany

近日,吳季璁受尚凱利畫廊之邀,拍攝了短片《在工作室(In the Studio)》。這段抽象而坦誠的影像堪稱吳季璁與光共同呈現的雙人舞,他通過長時間曝光的技法將自己在創作中找尋靈感的過程具象化為獨自在漆黑的工作室中跟隨一線微光的指引摸索前進。
要有光。對於吳季璁而言,光是他創作中重要的催化劑,而時間則是他的暗房,令美徐徐浮現。1972年,英國錄像藝術家大衛˙霍爾(David Hall)提出「時基藝術」的概念,指需要經由時間才得以完整呈現的藝術形式,本義是與傳統的繪畫、雕塑等媒材相對照,強調作品在時間與空間維度的延展性。而在吳季璁的作品中,時間卻成為他主動混淆新媒體藝術與傳統藝術、動態與靜態的手段。

baseboard for the cyano-collage
 Cyanotype papers will be removed from the baseboard if the result is not optimal



crystal city
 Wu Chi-Tsung is installing the Crystal City Series on the exhibition site