This exhibition features diverse landscape produced by seven artists through their respective encounter, collaboration, and even collision with the architecture designed by Fieldoffice Architects via different routes and in dissimilar spatial-temporal context. As an invitation, the exhibition engages the audience to contemplate the following question through their gaze: what is architecture, and what is its purpose in the contemporary world?
The term for “architecture” in Mandarin “建築” used today was introduced into Taiwan during the period of Japanese rule, which signals the context of colonial modernization. During Japan’s Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, “architecture” was translated as “建筑” in Japanese kanji. In the West, “architecture” has been used since the ancient Greek period. At that time, architecture was considered the top of all arts, and an architect was someone who led and brought together professionals of various crafts. Over more than two thousand years, this term which was invented from a production point of view has informed the sacred understanding that the Western architecture circle has tried to maintain within itself throughout several waves of architectural revivals. In the context of colonial modernization, a similar professionalism and understanding of “architecture” has also been established in Taiwan.
However, for ordinary people who are not of the architecture profession, the word “architecture” simply denotes the object in life. Moreover, like many man-made objects in everyday life, architecture as a man-made object not only possesses a material meaning in terms of its function and use, but also expresses who we are, and even to the point of shaping our identity. From a symbolic point of view, a living object can possibly be interpreted in many ways. The same object in life can have different meanings to different people; reversely, the same meaning can be symbolized in various ways with dissimilar objects. Based on this viewpoint, neutral architecture does not exist—people’s understanding and knowledge of architecture is not unified, singular, or solitary. Therefore, architecture can be defined by those outside of the architecture profession, and the concept of architecture only suggests a mystified profession.
It is worth noticing that creation is never out of thin air. The production of meanings or symbols is always based on the modification of existing ones; that is, new meanings are born from the reconstruction of existing meanings. So, the idea of architecture, which is conceived from the viewpoint of production, is not created out of nothing, but part of this cycle of construction and reconstruction of meaning. However, architecture is only a part of this process of endless understanding and open interpretation, which is never permanent and always ongoing—one does not know what the meaning will be. Through space, the construction and reconstruction of the meaning of architecture is no longer something to be perceived conceptually, but a full sensory experience of aesthetics that is affective, distinctive, and can be realistically felt. Consequently, architecture denotes a process of constructing meaning in various ways, through which people have continued to change architecture based on their understanding and imagination; and architecture, in the same way, has consistently altered people’s perception of themselves and their identity as well. Architecture conjures up an intersecting field of reality and imagination, where multiple meanings can be included—it is a site where the self and others can communicate openly, and ideas can be exchanged, adjusted and reshaped.
Fieldoffice Architects is founded by architect Sheng-Yuan HUANG in Yilan. They aim to create an architectural practice which can be integrated with and into the local lifestyle and environment and employs multiple open approaches to connect with professionals of different discipline to join their creative life. The artists featured in this exhibition have all engaged in dissimilar forms of intervention in the works of Fieldoffice Architects. Thus, this exhibition is itself a mini architecture. Through the interpretations of the works of Fieldoffice Architects, the exhibition serves as an open invitation to not just the artists but also all the audience to partake in this site of interweaving and transforming ideas to create meanings and understand others; and the worlds that were separate previously can become interconnected, and their relations can be mended and reshaped. Beyond Architecture is the node that links different worlds.