I was born in Taiwan. I grew up surrounded by different types of hardware stores, and I like going to night markets. I love the energy of the night markets, the colors, the lights, the toys, and all the unexpected things I find every time I go, things like watermelon with straw antennas or puppies with mohawks. When I was growing up, I liked taking toys apart, any kind of toys I'd find around the house, like my brother's BB gun when he's not home.
I also liked to make environments for people to explore and play. In these early installations, I would take plastic sheets, plastic bags, and things I would find in the hardware store or around the house. I would take things like highlighter pen, mix it with water, pump it through plastic tubing, creating these glowing circulatory systems for people to walk through and enjoy. I like these materials because of the way they look, the way they feel, and they're very affordable.
I also liked to make devices that work with body parts. I would take camera LED lights and a bungee cord and strap it on my waist and I would videotape my belly button, get a different perspective, and see what it does. (Laughter)
I also like to modify household appliances. This is an automatic night light. Some of you might have them at home. I would cut out the light sensor, add an extension line, and use modeling clay, stick it onto the television, and then I would videotape my eye, and using the dark part of my eye tricking the sensor into thinking it's night time, so you turn on the lightbulb. The white of the eye and the eyelid will trick the sensor into thinking it's daytime, and it will shut off the light.
I wanted to collect more different types of eyes, so I built this device using bicycle helmets, some lightbulbs and television sets. It would be easier for other people to wear the helmet and record their eyes. This device allows me to symbolically extract other people's eyes, so I have a diversity of eyes to use for my other sculptures. This sculpture has four eyes. Each eye is controlling a different device. This eye is turning itself around in a television. This eye is inflating a plastic tube. This eye is watching a video of another piece being made. And these two eyes are activating glowing water. Many of these pieces are later on shown in museums, biennials, triennial exhibitions around the world.
I love science and biology. In 2007, I was doing a research fellowship at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum looking at bioluminous organisms in the oean. I love these creatures. I love the way they look, the way they feel. They're soft, they're slimy, and I was fascinated by the way they use light in their environment, either to attract mates, for self-defense, or to attract food. This research inspired my work in many different ways, things like movement or different light patterns. So I started gathering a lot of different types of material in my studio and just experimenting and trying this out, trying that out, and seeing what types of creatures I can come up with. I used a lot of computer cooling fans and just kind of put them together and see what happens. This is an 8,000-square-foot installation composed of many different creatures, some hanging from the ceiling and some resting on the floor. From afar, they look alien-like, but when you look closer, they're all made out of black garbage bags or Tupperware containers.
I'd like to share with you how ordinary things can become something magical and wondrous. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)