The Free Taiwan campaign site  

Free Taiwan 2012: The Unruly Temple
Created in collaboration with Pei-Fong Kuo


The project is set in the year 2012, when China invades Taiwan to finally achieve its longstanding goal of “One China.” The United States, which had been guaranteeing Taiwanese security until that point, backs off when China threatens to unload U.S. Treasury bonds on the financial markets, which would destroy the fragile recovery taking place in the U.S. economy from its financial crisis which began in 2008. After China gains control of the island, it imposes border control to prevent the Taiwanese from leaving, along with censorship of individual speech against the Chinese government and its One China policy, plus electronic censorship of communications to and from Taiwan.

This project features a wandering temple representing the movement to free the Taiwanese people living under the occupation of the government of the People’s Republic of China. It wanders under its own power, moving and walking like a wounded activist. This creature‐like temple has both the features of a robot with life‐like behavior and an architectural structure that represents Taiwanese local culture. There are sensory devices attached to the temple to react to visitors and control the robotic behavior. It wiggles its way forward when there's no one in front of it, but when it senses a visitor’s presence, it stops and gives the visitor some time to examine it and interact with it.

The new temple also serves as the bridge between the people from across the internet and the world, recreating the social function of a temple in Taiwanese culture. Visitors to the wandering temple awaken the eye of the temple, triggering the temple’s camera to transmit live images of the temple’s visitors and locale to the project website, which supports the online campaign to rally Taiwanese and international supporters for freeing Taiwan from China’s grip. The website includes a chronology of events leading up to the invasion, a series of current “news” about the campaign to free Taiwan, and ways to help the Taiwanese. The written history will blur the real history up to the fictional future history, and include links to resources about the tensions between China and Taiwan. The temple is the connection between the physical and virtual public spaces for occupied Taiwan, Taiwanese refugees and the international community.

This project has an imagined audience, within its constructed scenario, of people who are concerned about the Taiwanese people and the Chinese occupation, and its design reflects that apparent audience. However, as an art project existing today, its audience includes people who may not know much about the cultural and political history and tensions between Taiwan and China, the role of the United States in this relationship, and the magnitude and potential outcome of the threat to Taiwan’s security.

The goal of this project is to create conversations about these issues amongst Taiwanese and Taiwanese expatriate communities, raise awareness in the U.S. and international community, and bring more attention to the situation right now concerning Taiwanese people to the public.




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Copyright © Derek Chung