In recent years, the question most often encountered by people in creative industries is how to make life better. In the process of this cultural construction, however, it may be possible that we have defined ourselves too quickly. The following is an interview with Wang Yao-Pang, a curator for the Creative Expo Taiwan 2017.
▲ (The left) Gina Hsu, Project Manager of DHH studio: Design as a Part of Your Everyday Life
(The right) Peng Yu, Creative Director of IF OFFICE: Defining Life’s Values
Q: How did you come up with the theme of “we are in the midst of a cultural explosion” for the exhibition?
There is a dearth of energy in Taiwan at the moment. There are people who want to get things done, but why are we moving so slowly? I think young people are the ones able to break through the current lethargy. They have fewer responsibilities, and the atmosphere can be said to be ‘explosive’. I have said before that, there will be fermentation, metamorphosis, combustion, and great feeling of speed, and all these are closely associated with social change. We need to “create meaning in the process.”
Q: Can you tell us about the group and the we that you often mention in the process of organizing an exhibition?
Indifference is what’s currently obstructing society from making progress. We don’t want people to be indifferent. Therefore, in this exhibition, you will see us keep asking questions. The purpose is to shape public opinion. Isn’t Western philosophy the truth resulting from public debates? Taiwan has entered an era of group power. There are no issues that are only the concern of a small number of people. Social bonds have to be reconnected to bring everybody closer together and reconstitute power. This power is an important drive in societal change. There are two important purposes behind creating meaning in the process. One is to turn ordinary people into charged up society, and the second is public participation. Exhibition viewers and curators are equally important in the exchange of ideas.
▲ (The left) Giant Kung, Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising: How Do You Assess Creativity?
(The right) Aaron Nieh, Graphic Designer: Why Do We Need Graphic Design?
Q: Please tell us about topic-based exhibition organization as a way to organize an exhibition.
The exhibitions I put together in the past have also been topic-based. I think people visiting an exhibition should leave with a new viewpoint. Although organizing this kind of exhibition is usually time-consuming, I believe someone has to be willing to go out of their way to come up with something truly valuable. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is a lot of communication work to do and there are procedures to follow. When I see the result, I know that it has all been worthwhile.
I am also convinced that by working in this way I can make a contribution to society. Both the general public and the government can make themselves part of this process by identifying themselves with an exhibition topic. Take bento (a boxed meal) for example. A considerable number of them are consumed in Taiwan every day. If bento sellers can present a different interpretation of their product, such as giving customers a real feeling of being ‘local’ when taking a bite, bento will have achieved new meaning. One important aspect in changing a society for the better is that people are motivated to make the effort themselves, and not forced into doing it by someone else.
Culture has been an interesting topic. We have even overthrown our own proposal during the process of exhibiting the topics. The biggest difference between this Creative Expo Taiwan and exhibitions we organized in the past is that the designers and craftspeople responsible for all the products and objects were all working around the same all-consuming question, “What is the essence of ‘we are exploding in culture?’” Another difficulty in organizing this exhibition was that we wanted to make it possible for participants to adopt easier approaches to present culture not just of the surface layer, but of deeper layers as well.
▲ (The left) Jenny Lee, Editor-in-Chief of Shopping Design: A Return to the Essence of Things
(The right) Neil Peng, Writer: Developing Independent Thinking
Q: Topic-based exhibitions involve one inescapable question: “Can the topic become common place and enter the homes of everyday people?” How do you think it can be brought to realization?
Any effort intended to change the society has to go through a process and to be tested in the long term to see how much it can be accepted. Through exhibitions, this process can be sped up in an experimental way. But even so, organizing an exhibition is still a demanding deliberative process. Every participant has to take the viewers into consideration and also constantly assess whether the topic they presents is powerful enough to have the desired effect. For the organizer or perhaps the government, this forms a new challenge because we are used to just looking at the results. Communication with the government when organizing an exhibition like this is a must and this is a process of clashing with the system.
There’s no telling whether there’s going to be an explosion, or whether it’ll be just water under the bridge. You never know.
Q: How should viewers look at this exhibition during Creative Expo Taiwan 2017?
“What exactly is culture?” I hope viewers can come to see the exhibition with this question in mind. You can only understand creative works if you understand culture. Otherwise, the words have no meaning. Some may look at culture as something soft, but it is a powerful, propelling force and the aggregation of all kinds of social phenomena. Besides the exhibitors and curators, it is hoped that the exhibition can also spark the imaginations of other people. During the development process, discussions and debates were required to cross-examine it from various angles. For example, “Since sports are the jurisdiction of the Department for Culture in the UK, what did you see in the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympics?”
▲ (The left) Dela Chang, Founder of KAO!INC.: Changing the World Through Music
(The right) Ping Chu, Founder of Canmeng AVEDA: Seeking Solutions Through Taking Action
About Creative Expo Taiwan 2017
Creative Expo Taiwan (CET) has been held since 2015 in three historical exhibition halls including Songshan Cultural & Creative Park (SCCP), Huashan 1914 Creative Park, and the Taipei Flora Expo Park. CET 2017 will be connected with the surrounding cultural life circles. During the exhibition, a variety of relevant activities will be combined with surrounding businesses to provide buyers, media and the general public an experience of Taiwanese high quality of life styles in all necessities. The central message of cultural creatives and the achievement of the exhibition goal are to present the concept of “The City is the Exhibition, the Exhibition Displays Lifestyles” showing the diverse culture in Taiwan.
Trends 2017, Creative Expo Taiwan
There are several areas in the main theme “Trends 2017”exhibition. In “Guided Reading” area, it set six pairs of curators, spanning two generations. Bringing something to an interview to visually demonstrate the aspect of culture can make it more fun for the people you talk to. Time moves on and things keep changing. People from different eras have completely different concepts of their surroundings. Such cultural diversity can stimulate our cultural expectations and understanding. Chang Tieh-Chih will be the questioner for the six groups. He will be asking questions to guide participants in working out a clear direction. The six groups are Neil Pang x Jenny Lee, Chu Ping x Dela Chang, Giant Kung x Aaron Nieh, Ocean Liang x Masa, Blues To x Joyce Ho, and Wang Yao-Pang x Cheng Li-Chiun.
In the “4+1 groups/topics,” the topics are”I Feel Like Flying Today / An Airport Sign Design Proposal”, “Have a Real Bite of the Local Area / A Biandang that Storms the Taste Buds”, “Miscellaneous Products from Taiwan/The Thinking Behind the New Taiwan”, “Enjoyment without Expiration Date / The Renaissance of Traditional Industries”, “Let the Body Guide Your Thinking / A Gymnastic Exercise that Helps You Think.” And the other area, “Five groups/Item selection” would be curated by 5 professional design buyers to represent 6 products with cultural implication separately.