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Arts & Humanities Research (MPhil) (PhD)

Aki Pao-Chen Chiu

Research Project Title: Translating Erasure - Proposing auto-theory as a practice for artistic enquiry and analysis while comprehending personal grief.

Supervisor(s): Dr Joanne Tatham, Dr Melanie Jackson

Aki Pao-Chen Chiu was born in Taiwan, 1987. She is a PhD candidate in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art (London), where she completed her MA in 2017. Chiu received her BFA from the National Taiwan University of Fine Arts in 2009.

Chiu has exhibited internationally. Her works have been shortlisted for ARTAGON.III in 2017, and selected in the Newly Emerging Artists in Taiwan 3D Creation Series. She has also participated in public art projects such as Play on Street by JFAA.

Erasure as an artistic technique has developed in my moving image work after my father's passing. I export videos into sequences of thousands of images and erase outlines of the targeted objects in each frame. The repetitive and low conscious labour is a way to ease the agony and to grieve my father. Hours compressed into thousands of frames, turning into a glimpse of illusion and leaving a ghostly emptiness on the images. Both its visual presentation and making reflect the life events and encounters I've experienced in the UK and Taiwan in the past years.

I consider an artwork embodies interconnected relationships between one's personal impulses and artistic training. As an art student, I have found it challenging to describe such a creative process with conventional academic writing. Within a construct that inclines to present thoughts as reasonable and rational arguments, my personal experiences and the intensity of feeling seem out of place. Within an academic framework, how can I make an argument out of how I have developed the erasure in my artwork to articulate grief, fading memories of a loved one, existential crisis and what's in-between?

Through auto-theoretical approaches to writing and making of moving image work, my research aims to build a structure that can express both the intimate and intellectual aspects of an art practice. This writing up process interweaves my personal stories that motivate my artistic expression into art theories. The memories about my late father, my relationship with languages, and my lives between the UK and Taiwan meet with different artists' uses of erasure.

As the conversations between the introspections and theoretical analysis accumulate, my writing and moving image work unravel an art journey that encompasses the nuances and struggles I've experienced as an international student. Within the search for an ideal model to illustrate an art practice, this research further generates profound understandings of memory, grief, loss, language, conflicted identities and cultural belonging.

Botanist — 2021 Digital video with sound 01'04"
Flower — 2020 Digital video, no sound 00'08" loop
Belongings — 2021 Digital video with sound 01'40"

After moving alone to London from Taiwan some years ago, the conflicts between my different responsibilities and identities as a daughter, a research student, an artist and a foreigner became apparent. This internal combat intensified after my father's passing.

Erasure as an artistic technique has since been developed in my moving image works as an expression to articulate such an ineffable agony and struggle. It takes place in the disappearance of objects' outlines or extractions of street lights from their surroundings, leaving a ghostly emptiness in the space.

Presenting this poetic void, Translating Erasure is a moving image series composed of groups of videos, texts and images. Each one- to three-minute moving image work tells a memory about my father. The storylines shift between disconnected time and spaces, representing the fragmental nature of memories. Narrated in different languages (Taiwanese Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien and English), accents and genders, these stories draw an absurd and disjointed profile of the protagonist, portraying my confusion of identities generated by the constant change in scenery, expectations and cultures.

Through articulating personal grief, my moving image practice examines subjects of family, trauma, languages, politics, cultural belonging and the nuances in between.

For a different viewing experience please see my website:

www.akipaochenchiu.com/new-botanist

Medium:

Digital videos and texts

Size:

Dimensions variable
Street Vendor — 2021 Digital video with sound 00'50"
Snow Field — 2021 Digital video with sound 01'16"

For a different viewing experience please visit my website:

www.akipaochenchiu.com/dream2020

Medium:

Digital videos and texts

Size:

Dimensions variable
Tomorrow — 2021 Digital video with sound

For a different viewing experience please visit my website:

www.akipaochenchiu.com/tomorrow

Medium:

Digital videos and texts

Size:

Dimensions variable