“I view the absolute precision of mechanical movements as an abstract language.”
Born Taipei, Taiwan, 1966. Lives and works in New York City
Most of Shyu Ruey-Shiann’s works have moving parts and motors, but what really animates them is a rapidly alternating current of contradictions: between complicated mechanics and minimalist simplicity; precise control and life-like motion; machine manufacture and painstaking handiwork. Whether a work has a couple of components or several thousand, the artist makes most of them himself and assembles them all by hand—an installation can take two or three years to complete. His subjects are often grandiose—Time and Being, and The Law of Relativity, for example—but they are conceived primarily as stories, from his own life and from Taiwanese culture. In Travellers’ Wings (2011) (video), rail tickets become the wings of mechanical birds, flapping in an intricately orchestrated rhythm that mimics flight but travels nowhere. The rhythm is the point, the artist says: it represents the heartbeat, and the human feeling that can invest even the coldest things with meaning.