Sparking Imagination

When Culture Meets Technology
:::

2019 / April

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Scott Williams


Technological leaps turn everyday ideas on their heads. When thoughts and feelings work in tandem the boundaries between creativity, skill, know­ledge, and fun can blur. Culture is striking dazzling sparks in the world of technology in unprecedented ways and opening new realms for the imagination to roam.

 

 


It was just two years ago that Chen Chin-feng lit the Universiade cauldron using the flame carried from Mt. Jade and a swing of his bat. This magical moment moved viewers, even those watching on TV, with its lovely integ­ra­tion of the arts and sport.

Luxury Logico, the group that created this giant spectacle, is a contemporary Taiwanese multimedia arts collective that has built its name on such multi­disciplinary work.

New methods, new public

The company is one of a number of new media art collect­ives that have popped up in recent years ­producing surprising, outside-the-box work. The trend has been brewing for more than 20 years, driven in large part by advances in technology. The ongoing maturation of big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and arti­ficial intelligence have lowered the barriers to entry, transformed fields, and offered artists new possibilities.

Even the staid world of museums has gotten in on the act.

The public can now use apps to search for specific works on exhibition or in collections; receive notifications about exhibitions; find out what other destinations and restaurants are in a museum’s neighborhood; and pull together information on the collections of multiple ­museums. The technology offers users many benefits.

For museums, the new technology is primarily a tool for academic research and museum management. Dr. Lin Yung-neng, a professor in the Department of Cultural and Creative Industries Management at National Tai­pei University of Education, mentions Apple’s iBeacon, a Bluetooth Low-Energy wireless technology that provides location information, as an example. The National Taiwan Science Education Center has already installed 474 such beacons, which provide visitors using the ­museum’s mobile app with digital education services, while also gathering de-identified data with which to analyze the route each visitor takes, the places where they tarry, and what they react to. This enables the museum to tailor routes to better meet the public’s needs, use visitor flows and feedback to hone exhibitions, and relieve crowding.

A multidisciplinary generation

Artists who are sensitive to the possibilities of different media have been especially bold in their efforts, and Taiwan is now home to many young collectives like Luxury Logico that were founded in the last ten years.

While each of these groups has developed its own techniques, specializations, and approaches, they share one key commonality: the multidisciplinary backgrounds of their core members. Though trained in ­techno­logical fields, their passion to create has driven them to pursue creative work in their post-collegiate lives.

Three graduate students in the digital arts program (now the master’s program in new media) at the Tai­pei National University of the Arts formed WHYIXD and threw themselves into creating electronic artworks for residential public spaces and commercial landmarks. Unlike more traditional large, static sculptures, their designs draw on the cultural background of the venue, and use lighting and mechanical devices to create a sense of growth and dynamism.

Ultra Combos, meanwhile, uses design and tech­nology to create customized digital experiences, and is expanding in the exhibition, event, and brand marketing spaces. Its work differs from pure art in that each piece is driven by explicit client needs and instructions. “But even the company commissioning the project doesn’t know what they’re going ultimately to get.”

Staking a claim

Taiwan’s renown as a “technology island” suggests that we have almost unlimited potential within the field of digital art.

The Brogent Group’s i-Ride Experience Center, which opened this year at Breeze Nan­Shan, is just one example.

Once the lights dim on the science-fictiony theater, visitors’ seats rise and slowly move towards a giant screen. Riders are then “launched” into the sky as a journey through the air unfolds. They not only see the terrain, but also experience the wind, humidity and even scents of their trip.

The ride tightly integrates software and hardware. Its patented webbed seats possess six degrees of ­freedom and hold riders comfortably in position without swaying. Its safety belts, originally designed for high-end sports cars, can be fully tightened on the fly. Interestingly, its curved projection screen is made by a company that used to produce steel sculptures. And all of these components were made in Taiwan.

The design of the daring ride required some clever multidisciplinary work. That the company was able to continuously advance its plans, fix problems and resolve issues, while also linking up and coordinating with “hidden champion” manufacturers all over Taiwan, comes down to CEO C.H. Ouyang.

Ouyang is an engineer by training, and cofounded the company as a maker of cellphone software. But when the E-DA theme park decided ten years ago to build a Disney-­style flying theater, he ignored the prevailing skepti­cism about the project and spent heavily on the necessary R&D. That development work ultimately propelled the company to a leading position in the entertainment equipment manu­factur­ing space.

Their products now rival Disney’s flying theaters, and can be found in theme parks around the world. In fact, the company holds a roughly 60% share in its market segment and is viewed as a serious competitor by many well-established European and American entertain­ment equipment brands.

The company’s rise suggests that there’s no conflict between technology and culture.

A new age

As we move into a new age of multi­disciplin­ary integra­­tion and cooperation, the distinctions between the liberal arts and the sciences are rapidly becoming obsolete. Old ways of thinking are loosening up, as demonstrated by Ou­yang’s mention of incorporating educational content into the ride to transform it into a more meaningful kind of entertainment.

WHYIXD’s Fancy Yeh, meanwhile, says that because his company’s large electronic installations are used as corporate landmarks and attract large numbers of people, they aren’t budgeted as artworks but as market­ing expenses. And Ultra Combos director Jay ­Tseng notes that when photos and videos of people visiting inter­active multimedia installations are recut into short films, they serve as secondary marketing tools for the com­panies commissioning the projects.

On the government side, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) have been working together in recent years, one result of which is that museum groups have received as much as NT$500‡600 million per year from MOST’s technology budgets.

Government departments have been piecing together the drivers of business trends, and actively using public resources to build an outstanding developmental en­viron­ment. For example, the Taiwan Digital Asset Library is a government-supported shared platform for high-­resolution 3D models. Its “3D Scanning Program for Desig­nated Historic Structures” builds models of nationally designated cultural assets and saves them to a cloud-based platform both to reduce the risk of them being lost to a natural or human disaster, and to serve as a resource for the content industry.

When culture meets technology, the two can become indistinguishable: entertainment becomes educational and technology translates art, making it more accessible and growing its potential as a marketing tool. Tech­nology’s ubiquity can even level class differences, helping bring about a kind of cultural equal rights. All of these innovations taking place at the same time suggest that an immensely attractive oasis, like that depicted in the film Ready Player One, may be beginning to take shape.

Relevant articles

Recent Articles

繁體中文

當文化遇見科技

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林旻萱

科技的躍進,翻轉了習以為常的觀念。當理性與感性相濡以沫,創意、技術、知識、娛樂的分野漸次模糊,文化在科技裡激盪出絢爛的火花,前所未見,任憑想像力馳騁的新戰場,正向所有人開放。

 


 

猶記得,兩年前令全民共榮的世大運,聖火一路由玉山傳遞到會場,陳金鋒的一記強力揮棒,瞬間點燃了巨大的機械聖火台,這個結合了體育與藝術展演的魔幻時刻,就連在電視機前觀賞的觀眾,也為此激動不已。

打造這個巨型裝置的「豪華朗機工」,即是台灣當前以跨界聞名的多媒體藝術團隊。這個整合藝術、機械、科技、建築、哲學等不同領域的組合,乍聞之下雖令人匪夷所思,實際上卻是當前最具潛力的發展模式,他們向世人作出宣示,單打獨鬥的時代已是過去。

新方法,新公眾

豪華朗機工之外,這幾年新媒體藝術團隊簡直如雨後春筍,作品形式往往不拘陳格,常常就出現在你我的身邊。而返溯這樣的風潮,估計醞釀期逾二十年,科技的發展是核心關鍵,當大數據、雲端計算、物聯網、人工智慧等各項技術趨於成熟,使用門檻也隨之下降,不僅藝術家嗅聞到新機,文武百業也因應發生質變。

就連作風相較保守的博物館群也靜極思動。2018年的世界博物館日,國際博物館協會便提出「新方法、新公眾」的口號,好似正與之呼應。

台北教育大學文化創意產業經營學系教授,同時也是教育部智慧博物館專辦主持人林詠能便解釋,由於博物館的硬體設備維持時間較長,因此通常會等待科技成熟後才採用,一來出於成本考量,二來故障率也較低;不過,隨著近年不僅技術臻於純熟,甚至有許多免費資源,今之博物館也正與時俱進地演化。

科技始終來自於人性,博物館科技的演進全民雨露均霑。以民眾來說,運用App協尋特定的展品、藏書;展覽資訊的主動推播通知;館所周邊的餐飲、旅遊景點等資訊的串聯;不同館所之間的館藏資訊整合等,好處多多。

於館方而言,主要用於學術研究與博物館管理,林詠能舉例,近年由Apple所推出的iBeacon(低功率藍芽的微型定位技術)便是一項利器,台北科教館已率先在館內建置474個服務點,當民眾使用科教館的行動導覽App,軟體除了提供數位學習服務,同時能以去識別化的方式分析到每位民眾的參觀動線、停留時間、情緒反應等大數據,除了可依據民眾需求,客製化參觀路徑,疏解人潮壓力,館方同時也能針對人流與民眾的回饋,進一步優化展覽的動線與內容。

跨域時代,混種新生

對於媒材最敏感的藝術家,尤其勇於嘗試。正如豪華朗機工一般,民間現已有不少成軍不滿十年的年輕團隊,創辦元老均相當年輕,平均落在三十歲上下。

他們擅長的領域、技術各有不同,發展的進路也大異其趣;但相同的是,核心成員多擁有跨域的學養背景,藝術、設計之外,不乏資工、機械、數學等理工領域,他們儘管擁有科學素養,但本於對創作的熱情,讓他們在畢業以後自然而然重新回歸創意工作。

「現在沒有一個職業可以那麼好玩。」在去年底由文化部主辦的文化科技論壇上,受邀與談的何理互動設計執行副總葉彥伯在座談會上這樣說。

「科技藝術有特殊的迷人之處,擁有前所未有的可能性,可以看到以前從來沒有看過的事情。」同一場活動上,參與對談的叁式有限公司總監曾煒傑也有所共鳴。

由3位台北藝術大學數位藝術研究所(現已改為新媒體藝術學系碩士班)同學所共同創辦的何理,致力於電子造景藝術創作,主要作為豪宅公共空間的藝術品、商業性地標。這些作品與傳統靜態大型雕塑截然不同,團隊除了針對場域的背景文化作設計,同時經常用上燈光、機械結構等元素,透過光影、機械動力的效果,創造出根生土長、動靜皆宜的作品。

至於擅長於數位體驗設計的叁式,在展覽、活動、品牌行銷等場合,都有發揮的空間。叁式的強項在於運用設計、程式打造出一套客製化的數位體驗,這與純粹的藝術創作不同,由於每個案子的背後,都有著明確的需求,承接任務的他們,就像要依業主指示的命題,完成解題任務,由於沒有前例可循,「就連業主也不知道會買到什麼東西。」曾煒傑說。

以品牌行銷為例,傳統方法不外乎刊登戶外看板廣告、發送傳單、邀請民眾玩小遊戲送贈品等,但時髦的多媒體體驗遊戲,不僅更容易吸引到消費者主動參與,在遊戲中融合品牌形象訴求,效果事半功倍。

插旗全球,MIT的飛行劇院

作為舉世聞名的科技島,台灣在科技藝術的發展潛力,也許遠比你我的想像都來得大。

讓我們把鏡頭拉回到今年才剛開幕的微風南山,在這個各大品牌的兵家必爭之地,由智崴集團所營運的i-Ride Taipei飛行劇院,在以零售、餐飲服務為主的商場中一枝獨秀。

具有太空科幻感的情境吸引著遊客一步步踏入劇院,當燈光驟暗,座椅被緩緩抬升,推入巨大球幕前,像被投入天際一般,一段結合視覺、風動、水氣、香味,必須全神投入的飛行旅程,就此展開。

而這套高度整合軟硬體,甚至奪得歐洲地區主題樂園最佳新設備獎的高科技設備,包含:擁有獨家專利,享有6個自由度,可輕鬆前後、上下、左右移動的飛行椅;專門供給高級跑車使用,可隨時將人緊緊縛住沒有空隙的安全帶;可輕鬆將人托住不會搖晃的網布座椅;由本來是製作鋼雕藝術的廠商,跨界出手打造的曲線投影螢幕……竟是道道地地的made in Taiwan。

而這一切,除了源於敢夢敢想的心,還得要擁有懂得跨域妙用的靈活腦袋,同時能將計畫不斷推進、糾錯、解決問題的實踐力;而藉著這一套飛行劇院,將全台各地製造業的隱形冠軍相互串聯、重新擦亮使之熠熠發光的幕後推手,正是智崴集團執行長歐陽志宏。

「台灣有很多厲害的小工廠,專門生產零件在高級產品上。」、「台灣不是我們想像中那麼貧乏的地方,只是都各做各的。」歐陽志宏觀察到。

本業是工程師的他,公司最早由手機軟體起家,當10年前,義大世界想仿效迪士尼樂園建置飛行劇院,才發現重要的專利被迪士尼壟斷,難以突破,在多數人不看好的情況下,他自告奮勇地投入千萬重本,自行研發,才成就了今日娛樂設備製造商的龍頭地位。

如今這一套設備,不僅可與迪士尼獨家的飛行劇院匹敵,在世界上各大遊樂園插旗無數,市佔率高達六成,更被許多歐美老牌的娛樂設備廠商視為可敬的對手。

歐陽志宏回憶,當他8歲時第一次踏入電影院,看的就是科幻電影《星際大戰》,一個井底之蛙的鄉下孩子猶如看見了另一扇窗景,自此決定走上理工之路,雖然長大後才了解到,電影裡的星際旅程難以實現,但虛擬體驗足以彌補遺憾。如今從科技領域大膽跨足到可天馬行空的娛樂產業,「大概是潛意識裡的驅動。」他開玩笑地說。

而這個異軍突起的案例,似乎在告訴我們,科技與文化,從來都不相違。

共融╱榮新世代

文科、理科逕渭分明,轉眼已成舊世代的思維,重視跨領域的整合與合作的新世代驟降。許多因循已久的觀念逐漸在鬆動,好比歐陽志宏便談到,除了進軍各大遊樂園,他們也進一步思考將這一套設備結合教育內容,為娛樂事業的意義更上一層樓。

葉彥伯則提及,因商業地標的大型電子藝術裝置,往往能吸引人潮回流,因此他們的作品,不只被列入藝術預算,甚至也被涵納行銷費用的範疇。曾煒傑則分享,民眾參與多媒體互動裝置的現場,再透過攝影、錄像,重新剪輯成短片,於業主而言也是由設備衍伸的一套行銷利器。

若從政策面來看,近年連同文化部、科技部,甚至故宮,首開先例向科技部等部會爭取科技與前瞻計畫預算,每年的總額高達5~6億之譜。

文化部政務次長丁曉菁指出,當文化與科技匯流,也許多數人僅懵懵懂懂感覺到趨勢變化,但站在公部門的高度,「要解決什麼問題?達到什麼效果?過去也許很模糊,但這幾年在戰略上的位置,都已被釐清。」

除了有意識地梳理產業趨勢發展的背景脈絡,政府部門也積極以國家資源建制良好的發展環境,「台灣數位模型庫」為國家資源建置出共享的高階3D模型平台;「國定古蹟3D掃描計畫」針對國定文化資產建置模型,確保文化資產能在雲端永存,降低因天災人禍造成的損失,更為內容產業好比小說、電影等,提供創意發揮的舞台。

是以,當文化遇見科技,文化產業同時亦是科技產業;娛樂的同時,也能兼顧教育;經由科技的轉譯,藝術品紆尊降貴,不再高處不勝寒,反倒因通俗的魅力,能為商業行銷所用;透過科技的普及,甚至能弭平階級差異,落實文化平權……種種革新正在同時間發生,恰如電影《一級玩家》所講述的,一個吸引所有人前仆後繼地前往的新綠洲,正在形成。

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!