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Ageless: Cultivation


Sound and Multiple Installation    |  25' 48" Size Variable  |  2020

Language represents the historic evolution of a cultural community. Moreover, it is a tool for expressing thoughts. Learning foreign languages echoes with babies’ babbling and human experience of integrating into collective living, implying the connotations of embarkment and construction of “new life” and “new connection”. 


In our country, Japanese is currently one of the primary options in terms of learning a second foreign language. In addition to the similarities of its characters with those of Mandarin, certain geographic, historical and cultural links also make it more accessible and less unfamiliar. “Japanese class” forms the majority of the foreign language courses  provided for silver-haired citizens in Dar-hong and Wang-gong Communities in Xinying District, Tainan, where Japanese course is held almost every day. Consequently, there is an evergreen class that has existed for almost more than a decade. Ko Ching-Chuan, the first teacher of this class, has received Japanese education. As a victim of political persecution, he has been imprisoned for 12 years during the White Terror period in the 1950s. By observing and participating in the classrooms of “Japanese class” and “Japanese singing class” held by the Community Development Association, I felt a training of technique of living about “cultivation”, as well as manifestation and transmission of “spirit” embodied by these elderlies.


In responding to the reality of change in the demographic structure in a social situation with ageing population, the government and the academia reanchor the core of the elderly’s social participation, giving rise to several conceptual terms which cohere social situations and bear promotional meaning, such as “銀齡 (literally “silver age”), “樂齡” (literally “happy age”) or “無齡” (literally “ageless”). Among them, the status and culture implied by whether “happy age” or “ageless” that emerged more recently involve support systems in psychological and spiritual aspects, ranging from an individual at a micro level to a cultural community at a macro level. And, in the revolution of the universe and Nature, incidences of life and extinction are physically inevitable. Every stage of the human life cycle is unique and filled with infinite possibilities of sustainable growth. Experiences at all stages of life shift between “nil” and “existence” following the flow of motion. How to give up “existence” and return to “nil”? Such drive manifests the spirits and thoughts pertaining to different individuals and cultures. The learners of technique in class correctly represent the socially expected learning at a “happy age”, while incarnating an “ageless” spirit, further showing their own unique gestures of life. No utilitarianism, and no targeted goal either; language learning becomes a part of their lives.

The work is based on the voice narration of two learners from the Japanese class in the communities who continuously learned for a decade. Through conversation, they detailed their experience of learning Japanese. From the intersection and combination of the narrators’ enunciative quality and soundlines, along with songs, nursery rhymes and the ongoing ambient sound, creating slow vibrations of emotional connections behind learning Japanese, as well as the drive to continuous learning and starkly different psychological supports. 


The work was commissioned for “Marks of Old Friends: Cultivation of the Elderly”, an exhibition curated by Yang Chia-Hsuan in the temporal exhibition for the silver-haired in the frame of the “Xinying Art Festival”.


聲音、複合空間裝置   |   25分鐘48秒、依空間調整   |   2020











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