“The way we see things is usually fixed. We see what we expect to see. I want to challenge that.”

Born Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, 1969

Tu Wei-Cheng’s installations explore his twin obsessions: optical illusions and museums, which “direct our view of the past”. Optical Trick (2011) takes both those themes literally, with a “museum exhibit” of hand-built replicas of late 19th-century movie viewers and projectors. Though the boxes look old, what we see through the peepholes and lenses could hardly be more contemporary: city skylines, pop culture icons, and the artist’s friends. His trick sets our ideas of the museum, the past, and the cinema spinning like a kinetoscope. Happy Valentine’s Day (2011) is a chocolate shop, all decked out with hearts and pink ribbon, where the chocolates are tiny tanks, guns and hand grenades. The installation is a reflection on the narrow divide between love and war, particularly in the context of Taiwan’s fraught relationship with China. “Who is the lover who sends these weapon-shaped chocolates?” the artist asks. “Is it a threat that states, ‘Lover beware’?” In an earlier “grand hoax”, Tu Wei-Cheng manufactured an entire archaeological dig and a museum to show its finds. The centrepiece of that multi-site installation, Bu Num Civilisation Revealed (2011), is a fake-stone wall covered with bas reliefs that seem to depict acts of worship and sacred objects. On closer inspection, the carvings show people hunched at computer screens, surrounded by keyboards, iPhone app icons, GameBoy consoles and hard drives. “The Internet opens a door into what resembles a spiritual plane,” he says. “We spend the day facing the sacrificial altar of the computer.”

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