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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - Tate Modern after the End of the World
Artist(s): CHANG Teng-Yuan
Date: 20 Jul - 22 Sep 2013

What will remain on this planet in thousands of years after the end of the world?

As I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel about archaeological investigations of Pompeii, I could not help but wonder, what would remain on the earth thousands of years from now, if the entire planet was buried by volcanic ash and pumice as a result of a volcanic eruption happening to us in the same way right now? What will archaeologists find in thousands of years? What will they think it is, if they dig up a catwalk? A runway, perhaps? Will they realize, then, that a formaldehyde-soaked shark is actually a morbidly expensive piece of art in our time?

This work is set in a fictional future that takes place thousands of years after the end of the world. A “Parrot man”, a fictional species in this work, from a faraway planet arrives on the Earth to carry out an archaeological investigation after catching some unknown, unmanned aerial vehicle which has been launched from the Earth and loaded with information gathered from the planet.

During the course of his archaeological investigations, the Parrot man, with the aerial vehicle-like detector in his hand, searches through Tate Modern, and finds himself surrounded by many things he does not recognize. These findings include, for example, Jeff Koons' sculpture Balloon Dog (1994-2000), which the Parrot man thinks is a form of transportation, and Damien Hirst's tiger shark a. k. a. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), which they thinks is a domestic pet, and Nam June Paik's TV Buddha (1974), which they thinks is a realist reconstruction of a couch potato.

This project turns the panoramic projector screen into a media interface which separates two different spaces. A variety of viewing activities can be performed on this media interface. When the unmanned aerial vehicle flies across the sky, it presents the ash-covered ground surface, making the viewers feel as if they were inside of the aerial vehicle. When suspicious objects are transported into this unmanned aerial vehicle, the media surface quickly turns into a see-through glass divider for the viewers to observe how these objects are being handled in the laboratory-like space. It is precisely through this interface that I search for the information about Tate Modern, including its exterior and works of art which have been exhibited in the museum. I then deliberately reinterpreted the information in the same way the Parrot man did, giving every piece of information a new meaning based on my imagination of a possible future world. In so doing, I hope to open up new possibilities of understanding. By creating a Parrot man – an archaeologist from the future world – I also try to draw attention to things that we have taken for granted, and to articulate the ambiguity of our contemporary world.
- Chang Teng-Yuan

Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

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