“When we enter the space between reality and imagination, we feel familiar and strange at the same time, like a spectator on a voyage.”
Born Hsinchu, Taiwan, 1982
Modern culture is bursting with images that seem to depict reality yet seldom truly do. The tensions and overlaps between genuine images, obviously fake images and “edited” reality-TV-style images is a key theme of Chen Wan-Jen’s multimedia works. “All these images were making me really anxious,” the Taiwanese artist says. “Thinking about my relationship with them, I started exploring the artistic possibilities using digital media. Combining real and fictitious images, I created a new world.” In this world, Chan Wan-Jen manipulates commercial and everyday images to explode the stories they convey. In the process, he induces doubt about both the authenticity of the real and the fakeness of the virtual. In the video Bill Goes on Vacation (2008), a man endlessly repeats the same motions against the postcard-perfect scenery of Microsoft Windows wallpaper. The circularity “crashes” our initial sense that either man or setting is real, leaving us sceptical of both. In Passage (2008) and The Unconscious Voyage (2008), people move past each other without acknowledgment or interaction. Are the others they see real, or are they fictional? In the media-saturated 21st century, it’s a question we all might ask.