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Hsu Tung Han - Caught In the Matrix

Words:

Edd Norval
May 11, 2020

Taiwanese sculptor Hsu Tung Han uses classic techniques in woodwork to construct interesting contemporary figures that look to be glitching in front of our eyes. Through a combination of various woods and an innovative methodology - Han is playing with our perception of both art and reality.

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His glitches don’t exist for the sake of it either. They are positioned in areas of motion as if the still object - which is how we traditionally view sculpture - is actually captured in a photograph or video, a vision where experienced reality and captured reality don’t always precisely align.


Utilising realism for the bulk of each piece, the glitches are both sunken and jutting outwards, provokes the cognitive dissonance of two stories being told at the same time. This distinctive duality begins with his subject matter - if not classical, then certainly fairly regular, all things we’ve seen before. These ordinary images juxtapose with the futuristic glitch stylings.


Compiling the various blocks, to add kinetic energy to his sculptures, Han’s sculptures work like a complex game of Jenga, where the goal isn’t quantity, but quality. Constructing various blocks together, he carves the main identity of the figures before re-arranging blocks to give them their distinguishing look.

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Developing a dynamic portfolio of work seems to inspire Han, whose creations have gotten increasingly detailed and complex over time, giving the sense that he’s growing into his own style. It’s hard to say what is the driving force behind it all - human beings or technology? The natural or the manufactured?


Many artists are beginning to experiment on this precipice of the two, merging the line between what is artificial and what is real. It’s an interesting exercise in perception, challenging the very essence of how each one is, and will come to be, defined. When the figures are human, Han creates a sense that they’re somehow trapped by their environment, struggling to remain human in a world that doesn’t want them to be.


Underlining the works are existential questions of being, memory and the movements of everyday life. Things that can be imperfect, yet in your own mind, are perfectly composed. Perhaps that is the defining beauty of Han’s work - capturing our blurry moments in sharp, yet glitching, detail.

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