I grew up as a teenager in Taiwan during the period of dramatic political and economic change in society in the late 1990s. After the lifting of martial law in 1987, Taiwan entered a new era of democratization. Yet our lives have been under constant inﬂuence from traditional mindsets and foreign cultures, experiencing the world’s transition from analog to digital globalization, with media serving as the driving catalyst of mainstream culture for the whole of Taiwanese society.
Society post martial law is still marked by conﬂicts and contradictions. Nevertheless, this pluralist democracy and open society highlight the shortcomings of a system that lacks self-improvement and the concept of innovation. Growing up in the generation that suffered states of temporary shortages, I was fascinated by the uniqueness of subcultures. They each use their imagination as a form of spiritual resistance to be independent of mainstream culture: Street Fighter, DC comic book heroes, Japanese anime characters, tattoos, and feminine pseudo-girls.
They conveyed their inner identities through cosplaying. Under the careful and delicate gaze of the camera’s view, I focused on their presentation, subjective consciousness, and imaginary scenes using the medium of portraiture to express the spirit of the subject. Trying to capture the game between the subject and the imitator with the camera’s view. A world is like the kingdom of gods, a free space created in the imagination.
This group walking down the crowded streets of Taipei caused a spectacle. I tried to capture the pictures of the paradoxical relationship between the characters they played. I realized what fascinated me was the harmony between the city and the wild – sometimes being a wild dance of emotions, other times being empty and out of focus. I decided to focus on portraits. I’d be roaming the cities with one of the performers, traveling from city to city, going through old and new buildings with these images revealing a person’s connections to his birthplace.
Through movies, animation, pop songs, and popular culture, the values of the newer generations in Taiwan have been deeply inﬁltrated forming a community where cultures and histories of different countries and nationalities have blended together becoming the collective memory for several generations in the face of an uncertain future.