[ISEA2016] Artist Statement: ERIC SIU — THE UNUSELESS MACHINE FOR DEMOCRACY 死纏爛打民主機

Artist Statement

Installation, 2014, Documentary 5’36’’

“The Unuseless Machine for Democracy 死纏爛打民主 機” was created in response to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong: We saw a partial image of the Tiananmen Square Incident on September 28, 2014. The spirit of democracy lives on as the quest for freedom extends to the streets of Hong Kong. Forever reminded of the agonizing loss of 1989, we will continue to uphold the torch of democracy in peace.
“The Most Useless Machine, Ever!” is a renowned project, which gave birth to a philosophically challenging theme in the DIY circle through its contradictory ON/OFF function. By subverting this paradox, “The Unuseless Machine for Democracy” celebrates and supports the relentless spirit of the road to democracy. 35 Unuseless Machines are assembled to form the number “928”. Each Machine has an LED candle that randomly burns out. Once the light goes out, a dove will surface to peck at the candle, lighting it up once again. This cycle goes on forever. The project developed further and a stand-alone version of the Unuseless Machine was created for supporters of the Umbrella Movement to make at DIY workshops. All together 52 Unuseless Machines were created at workshops held in Hong Kong, Taipei and Japan, bringing the total number of machines to 87, which symbolizes the peaceful retaliation of the unarmed Hong Kong protesters against the 87 rounds of tear gas fired.

Technical Support: Alvaro Cassinelli

  • ERIC SIU, Hong Kong.“Eric Siu’s art has a recognizable face, even when it tries to hide it behind the various gadgets, devices and other interface objects that greet the observer. This face bears a broad and slightly impish smile, almost a grin, much like that of the artist himself. Theoretically speaking, we should not mix these two “faces”, no matter how closely they may resemble one other; however, having met Siu face-to-face, the temptation is great. The technological smile of Siu’s artwork reveals a sophisticated prankster, engaged in what I have termed “the art of the meta-gag”. Allow me to explain. Gags are the little, (mostly) innocent tricks that schoolboys play on their classmates and, occasionally, their teachers. The meta-gag elevates such ephemeral, normally benign, bskyut occasionally cruel pranks into a principle of art, investing them with a kind of “surplus value”. Some of Siu’s meta-gags prove to be light and optimistic, whilst others are darker and more enigmatic.” (_Erkki Huhtamo). ericsiu.net

Full text and photo (PDF) p. 251-252

Supported By: FabCafe (Tokyo and Taipei) & Lab by Dimension+ (Hong Kong and Taipei). Special Thanks: Ben Chen@IF Plus, Alvin Cheung, Mickey Choi, Darry Dai, Akims Huang, Daiki Kanaoka, Keith Lam, Toshimasa Kawai, Joel Kwong, Sonoka Sagara, Deborah Ten, Escher Tsai, Erin Tsuchiya, Tim Wong, Annie Wang, Great Works Tokyo, and all Umbrella Movement supporters who made their own Unuseless Machine in the workshops.