Final Hyperessay: Work Selection

La Camera Insabbiata

  • Artists: Hsin-Chien Huang(Computer Graphics & Interactive Program), Laurie Anderson(Story & Music)
  • First Public Display: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art- Chalk Room,  2017
  • Device: head-mounted device, hands-held controllers
  • Reward: the Best VR Experience Award winner at the 74th Venice Film Festival

“Your feet say, you are in the room. I feel the floor. But your eyes say, I’m in great dangerous flying and back to fall. You believe your eyes, not your feet.” –Laurie Anderson

the scene in Taipei Fine Arts Museum

In a space filled with the graffiti by chalks, participants in head-mounted device, holding controllers and sitting at the chair explore and fly within “the other” world in companion with the artist’s indelible voice on audio serves as the guide. There are 8 rooms in this virtual world: The Cloud Room features a galaxy of text like spinning nebula; The Anagram Room, the movements of participants would reflect on the move of two heads on the wall, which are talking to them; The Dog Room represents the artist’s deep missing to her dead dog; The Water Room features a surreal scene taking place in a flooded, ceramic-tiled room; The Sound Room, voices of participants talking and singing will be converted into sculptures, and participants with controllers can strike them to listen their own sound or others who attended before; The Dance Room, surrounded by small people, is characterized by the mysterious story to make participants more soaked in; The Writing Room allows words to flow out of physical gestures; And The Tree Room allows participants to fly around an enormous tree with words leafs that are telling several stories.

The Chalk Room
The Anagram Room
The Dog Room
The Water Room
The Sound Room
The Dance Room
The Writing Room
The Tree Room


The aim of this work is the exploration in the memory space where participants are able to fly without physical constraints. In Laurie Anderson’s interview, she said what she does is about losing your body and making an experience that “frees” you to look at any position. That’s also how it works in Virtual Reality, making people released from the subjectivity of body and experiencing the world at any aspect through senses. What’s more, this characteristic of VR matches the core idea of this work, the death issue. During the production of this project, both artists were experiencing the death of their beloved family. Therefore, they wanted to explore the experience of death with the advanced technology, so they combined the religious concept of “Bardo,” which is the period about first 49 days after people’s death, a transitional state between death and rebirth. In this period, these dead people still own their senses and feelings, but without their physical body, and their memory are disappearing gradually. In the introduction video, Huang said,

“The mission of last technology is to help people to think about the most important issues such as live and death in our daily life.”

In my opinion, this work makes an overwhelming demonstration of technology in  arts, making people experience the feelings that never could be explored before, and making anything, including the experience, feelings and emotions, “real” in the virtual space.

  • Chalk and Blackboard

The reason to choose “chalk” as a material to present the world, which is like the space of memory in the brain, is that chalk is like memory; words can be removed, but cannot be erased completely and must be remain something on the blackboard. It is the same state with memory; sometimes, people might forget something, but it doesn’t mean that this memory disappears from the consciousness; instead, it hides somewhere in the subconsciousness, and the only difference is whether it’s stronger or weaker memory.

Besides, that’s an interesting perspective from Anderson: she thought chalk has certain tactility, handmade, and it’s opposite of what virtual reality usually looks like, where the world is perfect compare to the chalk room filled with dust and dirt. It’s kind of a savvy means to mixing the real world with the virtual space.

Laurie Anderson painting the wall
  • VR

“It’s an isolated experience, not like the film or the concert. You are alone in this world,” said Anderson.

Rather than following the goal-oriented structure in the previous VR project, this VR interactive work focuses on the personal experience. In my view, this method breaks through the entertainment of the VR device, but enhances the level as a mediation to help people to introspect their lives. And Huang mentioned, VR is a tool that can efficiently and greatly deliver the cogitation, sensation or affection of the creator to the audience, just like so-called “empathy machine” by Chris Milk in his TED talk. In this work, the artists transformed their life experience, facing with the loss and thinking about the meaning of death, into the work to make participants experience the same and real feeling. What’s more, Huang also predicted that VR could influence people’s perception of themselves in the future. For instance, through the eyes of other creatures, the opposite sex or a different cultural background, VR helps people look at themselves from different aspect. Huang considered it a next wave of influence on human beings. The potential of technology is not foreseeing, but the domain to be explored by human is expanded continuously and certainly.

Vive- VR Device

Final Research: Artist Selection


Huang Hsin-Chien

Huang Hsin-Chien is a contemporary new media artist from Taiwan. Huang is expert in large-scale interaction, performing, mechanical apparatus, algorithmic computations and video installations. Now he is also the director of the Digital Content and Technologies Program in National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan, my home university.

He studied mechanical engineering in National Taiwan University. Then he studied industrial design in Art Center College of Design and Illinois Institute of Technology for master degree in design.

His first rewarded creation is “Time of Dream” in the first year of new media art competition “New Voices, New Visions,” when he was a Ph.D. student of the graduate school of Illinois Institute of Technology in 1994. It was based on a book “Einstein’s Dreams” talking about a series of fantasies about time and gave him inspiration to create an interface between words and images. Readers were able to travel between different times and stories, such as separating themselves from their own shadows or visiting the rooms with reversed causalities.

During that period, he also won acquaintance of several people such as world-renowned multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, who collaborates lots of projects with Huang, such as  “Puppet Motel”, “Here” and “La Camera Insabbiata,” which just won the Best VR Experience Award in 2017 Venice Film Festival.

Laurie Anderson

Actually, after his graduation, he served as a general art director in Sony online game business in West United States for several years. He said,

“When I was in the computer game industry, many of my colleagues were from the military. They created games for kids using the same technology from military simulation and training. After the Columbine High School campus shooting, I started to look deeply into the characteristics of technology and to reflect how humanity is altered by technology.”

Eventually, he went back Taiwan and is devoted in art creation since 2001 and rebuilt his profession as a new media artist and made the relationship with society.

He not only produces art creations that are presented in museums and art-related festivals or exhibitions, but also participates in the visual or stage design for well-known singers’ business concerts in Asia.

Rationale to choose

The reason I regard Huang as a contemporary new media artist is that he meets the criteria: the combination of technology, live performance, interactivity, collaboration, interdisciplinary and something to speak out.

In terms of technology, he already attempted to use the camera to project participants’ image on the screen in 2002, but the differentiation between pervious similar works, instead of a complete colored-silhouette or the real image, he picked up the silhouette of birds and rain as materials in the work, “Rain.” With the help of the interactive software and the formula of acceleration of gravity, the image can be projected in sync and the images of rain and bird that are from the nature can be presented smoothly and cope with the natural movement. And in his latest rewarded project, “La Camera Insabbiata,” he also utilized the techniques of the virtual reality device to make people to go in the other world where reflected on the reaction of the participants in the real world to create a feeling of “suspending disbelief.”

When referring to the concept of live performance, the representation of Huang’s work is “Road” in 2015, an interactive multimedia performance. The performance used real-time motion capture technology to transform the performers’ movements onto projected background. What’s more, it is an interdisciplinary art work. Huang collaborated with the professions from dance, visual design, music production and playwright. In his interview, there is a vital point of view for the collaboration of the interdisciplinary.

“It is a disturbing problem when collaborators always put the goals or the ultimate achievement in the first place, especially from different fields. Because people involving in would have preconceived ideas about how to do is sensible and what is necessary. However, for people who are professionals in different specialty, they may not think so.”

I think it’s essential to keep this perspective in mind, because the creation can be an innovative sparks when everyone throws away his/her own rules and views.


There is a representative of interactivity, “Window of Heaven and Earth, Mirror of the travelers,” it is a public art in the airport MRT station in 2017. When people pass by the screen, the visual would reflect their images that the historical architecture is as a material. Besides, the screen also reflected the real-time weather and sky color that made this work more real in the virtual image. At the aspect of collaboration, Huang not only collaborates with other artists, but also cooperates with the audience. In “La Camera Insabbiata,” he recorded the audience’s footage, which were sound being transformed into the images, as a new material for the work in the next audience’s spectacle.

In Huang’s works, the techniques, forms and material to present or utilize in an art are not chosen randomly or just catch up the fashion. He always wants to talk about something in his works. Take “Window of Heaven and Earth, Mirror of the travelers” for example. Why he chose to present Taiwanese architecture from different periods as a material is that the airport is a symbol of departure, where people have an emotional paradox that combines with the feeling of expectation and missing. The historical architecture represents the impression of hometown in peoples’ memories, who have left their hometown for a long time. And these architecture made a comparison to the urban life which is noisy and over-mechanized.  At the airport, before people left, Huang hoped to create a dream that took us back to the calm and natural countryside where can smooth our disturbed mind.