Yuan Goang-Ming
Everyday Maneuver, 2018
Single-channel video

News report I: World War III? Japanese tourists alarmed by Wanan Air Raid Drill in Taipei. (March 17, 2015)

News report II: Wanan Air Raid Drill No. 39 took place yesterday (April 21, 2016) in Kaohsiung, where streets were evacuated. A dinosaur was surprisingly spotted standing in the middle of the street. It turned out to be a man in a dinosaur suit who claimed he did it out of fun.

Tracing its inception to 1978, the annual Wanan Air Raid Drill has been effective in Taiwan, including Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu Islands. Despite the lifting of martial law in 1987, the drill continues to take place in cities around Taiwan every spring. The primary purpose of the drill is to reduce air raid damage if enemy strikes. It also serves as a reminder that the threat still lurks across the strait. This everydayness of warfare conjures a ghost city in modern-day Taiwan that becomes the perfect selfie spot for Taiwanese young people.

This video work documents the day of the drill between 1:30 p.m.–2:00 p.m., using drones to film the five main streets in Taipei, from directly above and the bird’s-eye view angle. The five shots intertwine to form a short film where the camera moves in a straight line, as if scanning the urban landscape in surveillance. The hustle and bustle of Taipei comes to a halt the moment the air raid sirens sound over the city, thousands of vehicles parked silently along the roads. This surrealist spectacle morphs into a bewilderingly real part of Taipei’s cityscape.


A pioneer of video art in Taiwan, Yuan Goang-Ming has worked with video since 1984, and is now one of the foremost Taiwanese artists active in the international media art circle. He received a master’s degree in media art from the Academy of Design, Karlsruhe Germany (1997), and currently holds a post as professor of the new media art department of the Taipei National University of the Arts. Combining symbolic metaphors with technological media, his work expresses the state of contemporary existence, while exploring the human mind and consciousness. He received the 13th Hsiung-Shih Art Award for the Best New Artist for his video and sculptural work Out of Position (1987) when he was still in art school in 1988. In 1992, his work Fish on a Dish garnered great acclaim in the Taiwanese art circle, and received the First Prize of the Taipei County Arts Award, while The Reason for Insomnia (1998) received the Jury Prize of the 1st Digital Art Festival. His “City Disqualified” series (2002) holds an important place in the history of Taiwanese contemporary media art. Disappearing Landscape (2007) heralded a new approach to the moving image, combining video art and cinema, displaying the fascinating, theatrical everyday in three-channel video installations. The 2011 exhibition Before Memory continues his exploration of the idea of “home” and expands such exploration into ruins and nature, in a diverse array of large-scale installations about time and memory, the body and perception. His 2014 solo exhibition An Uncanny Tomorrow questions the environment we inhabit in a globalized context, pondering the anxieties and apprehensions of modern people. This exhibition received the Exhibition of the Year of the 13th Taishin Arts Award. The 2018 solo exhibition Tomorrowland pivots around the idea that home in the future is no longer solid. The works are centered on the normalization and everydayness of warfare, embodying modern-day existence and human despair. The exhibition traveled to the Hayward Gallery in London in 2018. Yuan has participated in various exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and America. Among these include: Aichi Triennale (2019); Beyond Bliss: Bangkok Art Biennale (2018); Biennale de Lyon: La Vie Moderne, France (2015); Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan (2014); the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australia (2012); Singapore Biennale (2008); Liverpool Biennial, U.K. (2004); Auckland Triennial, New Zealand (2004); Taiwan Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003); the 2nd Seoul International Media Art Biennale, Korea (2002); 010101: Art in Technological Times, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, U.S. (2001); ICC Biennial, Japan (1997), and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2002,1998, 1996). His work is housed in public and private collections of art museums and institutions at home and abroad. He has also been on the Collections Committee of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and a juror of the Taipei Art Award, Taipei County Arts Award, Public Art, Venice Biennale (Taiwan Pavilion), and Asia Society Arts Award in the United States.