SHU LEA CHEANG
Lea Cheang, taiwanesa, es seguramente una de las artistas
multimedia con propuestas más transgresoras y radicales.
Además, Shu se jacta de llevar un "estilo de vida
digital" en sintonía con su trabajo como artista
ha sabido usar las posibilidades de la red como soporte
fabulador, como frontera imprecisa entre lo real, lo
irreal y lo fantástico. Su obra Brandon (brandon.guggenheim.org)
es un magnífico ejemplo de ello, "un canon del arte
on line", como lo definía The Village Voice. Pero Shu
Lea Cheang va a presentar en Sevilla lo que constituye
su trabajo más polémico: el film IKU. Visión futurista
de la sexualidad japonesa, IKU es una cinta transgresora,
una orgía de colores y una sublimación de su propia
fantasía. Obra cyber o tecno porno, como
lo define la propia Shu, IKU es un preciso análisis
de la sociedad japonesa actual, una instantánea digital
y por ello conscientemente e inconscientemente manipulada,
corrosiva, de la implantación en la médula del cuerpo
social de unos códigos y una estética tecno
que coexisten con unos valores medievales que están
provocando una virulenta reacción por parte del estamento
social más perjudicado por esta antagónica dualidad:
las mujeres. IKU es un obra profundamente feminista
y, más que moderna, actual, que pertenece al mundo en
el que estamos viviendo. IKU no habla sólo de futuro:
es presente. Y ese es su gran valor.
Sus instalaciones de Net Art han sido exhibidas y están
albergadas en las colecciones permanentes de instituciones
como el Walker
Art Center (Bowling Alley, 1995), NTT[ICC], Tokyo (Buy
One Get One, 1997)
y el Guggenheim Museum (Brandon, 1998-1999).
Su primer trabajo como realizadora, "Fresh Kill", fue
galardonado en el Festival de Berlín.
instalación "Baby Play" fue seleccionada por el NTT
(ICC), en Tokyo,.
realizado instalaciones en el Ota Fine Arts en Tokyo,
The Project, en New York y en la galería Julia Friedman,
forma parte del Shopping Window net art en Telepolis.de.
está desarrollando el proyecto "Fluid", otra scifi
porn digital picture, con los estudios Innocent
Pictures/Zentropa en Dinamarca.
Baby Play, InterCommunication Center (ICC), Tokyo
IKU Stripped, Women Art Network, Tokyo
I.K.U. (screening) Wexner Center for the Arts,
Taipei Fine Art Museum Biennale 2000
FLUID, The Project, New York
CARRYON, Media Arts & Research Studies (MARS),
Institute for Media
90:00, a Japenese Sci-Fi Porn Digi Movie, an Uplink
Production, Tokyo, Premiere, Sundance Film Festival
I.K.U. (screening), ICA, London
Guggenheim Museum, SOHO, co-production with Banff Center
for the Arts, Canada, DeWaag, Society for Old and New
Buy One Get One, ICC Biennale, Tokyo, Japan (award,
Elephant Cage Butterfly Locker, Atopic Site exhibition,
Fresh kill, Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum
of American Art, New York
Bowling Alley, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Fresh Kill, feature film, premiered at Berlin
International Film Festival
Enter, The Final Frontier Exhibition, The New Museum
of Contemporary Art, New York
Fluttering Objects of Desire, Whitney Biennial, Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York
Those Fluttering Objects of Desire, Exit Art,
The Airwaves Project, CAPP Street Project, San
Making News/Making History, ICA, Boston, ICP,
A producing member of media collectives, Paper
Tiger TV & Deep Dish TV
2000 Chua, Lawrence, "An Odd Circuit,"
Art Asia Pacific, Fall edition.
1997 Kroker, Arthur and Marilouise. "Web
Delerium, The Okinawa Project."
Delerium. New York: St. Martin's Press.
1996 Furlong, Cindy. "Gender Bending, Works
of Shu Lea Cheang." College
Asai, Takashi. "Fingers and Kisses." Dice,
Japan. Nakamoto, Akio. "Shu
Lea Cheang." Wired Japan
Chua, Lawrence and Hagedorn, Jessica. "A Dialogue
on Fresh Kill." Bomb, New York.
1993 "Whitney Biennal." Art Forum,
Highs, Kathy and Cheang, Shu Lea, eds/ "Shot/Reverse
Shot, A Cross Circuit Videologue." Felix, New York.
Howell, John, ed. "Breakthroughs, Avant Garde Artists
in Europe and America, 1950-1990." Wexner Center
for the Arts, New York: Rizzoli.
Su trabajo puede ser visto
alley (1995) http://bowlingalley.walkerart.org
One Get One (1997) http://www.ntticc.or.jp/HoME
Play (2001) http://babyplay.ntticc.or.jp
año 20XX, Genom, una multinacional, esta investigando
el poder del sexo en la era cibernética. Todo comienza
en un ascensor cuando Dizzy, empleado de Genom,
inicia a un cyborg extremadamente sexy llamado OS
IKU 3.0 (conocido como Reiko) en los placeres de
su "disco duro". Después de eso, a Reiko
se le encomienda la misión de ir por la ciudad acumulando
la máxima información posible sobre el acto sexual.
Reiko demuestra grandes habilidades para la misión
hasta que un virus llamado Tokyo Rose, con un gusto
especial por la lencería y creado por una compañía
rival, se introduce en su memoria haciéndole perder
la información recogida hasta el momento. Pero todo
problema tiene solución y Reiko la encuentra en
un programador retirado que le enseña a evitar el
virus mediante una intrincada forma de masturbación.
Ya curada, Reiko tiene que luchar contra el reloj
para volver a llenar su memoria experimentando al
máximo toda clase de posiciones sexuales.
(cuya pronunciación en japonés viene a significar "me
corro") es una película porno japonesa independiente
dirigida por una mujer, Shu Lea Cheang, rodada enteramente
en vídeo digital y que experimenta con el erotismo en
un marco futurista.
ending of "Blade Runner" links to the opening
of "I.K.U.". "I.K.U."
from the former film that never had sex although there
was love, in the latter movie in it, I.K.U. runner and
Reiko have intense sex in the elevator, where was the
stage of the ending of "Blade Runner".
development of I.K.U. system that the GENOM Corporation
to offer for sale reaches its final stage. An innovative
enabled the development of the system. It will make
people attain orgasm without having any touch between
genitals, since the people will be able to receive the
I.K.U. data directly to the brain by accessing to the
complete the I.K.U. system, it is necessary to collect
the orgasm data of
kind of person. So the GENOM Corporation sends out to
sexy replicants "Reiko", who can transform
themselves depending on
is a sexy role-playing movie of orgasm hunting by the
A net-surfing movie for the Internet Generation >
are the replicants of the GENOM Corporation. To collect
the data for the I.K.U. system, they have been set out
to New Tokyo and have various patterns of sex with men
and women one after another. "I.K.U" continuouslywarps
freely from scene to scene. It might be the same sense
with net-surfing that takes people everywhere they want
in the world only by entering the address of a web site.
the history of movies which were invented 100 years
ago, like dramas, the story of the novel form has been
represented by its characters. However, the internet
which appeared at the end of the 20th century has revolutionized
of all, computers gained the ability to communicate,
then the technology spread to telephone and television.
Now both young and old people are absorbed in acquiring
to use the skill this new treasure. Following the current
trend of the times, it would not be strange that the
movies receive some influence from the internet.
is a movie that was produced for the Internet Generation.
The story developes like doing net-surfing. Shooting
with digital video cameras. Non-linear editing with
computers. No doubt "I.K.U." warps you to
the world of the enhanced image.
The near future that business controls personal pleasure
wasn't love, it was sex." are the words in "I.K.U."
that describe the sex
obstinately. Why? Because this is the promotion
movie of the I.K.U.
that GENOM Corporation has developed (please see the
official site www.i-k-u.com to see this structure)
connect to the I.K.U. server by plugging a I.K.U. Chip
into the Net
Phone -- It is like an evaluated form of the net idles
or the net hunting on the internet. The sex industry
in near future will only seek sexual pleasure and easily
offer the orgasm data. Is it possible for people to
enjoy having physical sex again once if they are enslaved
by virtual ecstasy? What will the human race create
from the new pleasures gained after being free from
the ecstasy gained by physical friction?
describes an era in which business controls personal
movie foretells of an all to near future warns against
the present world in which the boundary of the human
race is becoming unclear and the words like "Human
Genome", "Clone", or "Human Robot"
are being whispered.
A plastic gender represented by digital art >
the movie is made up with an on parade of the nakid
body and fuck, the scenes are not realistic at all.
There only drifts a unique mood of ecstasy --- beautiful,
and even like magic. Every cut is like a picture of
digital art, at the same time it is like a comic book.
A plastic ecstasy in which CG and music intertwine ---
it is as if a virtual ecstasies is gained through the
The director of the movie is Shu
Lee Chan, who creates her art by making full use of
the internet and digital techniques and is highly praised
by the museums all over the world. The shooting is Kamoto
Tetsuya, who is known for his music videos of Utada
Hikaru and L'Arc〜en〜Ciel. The CG is created
by E-MAIL, who plays an active role in the concert tour
of GRAY or in club scenes. The music is presented by
Hoppy Kamiyama and SABOTEN.
tries to create the most advanced digital movie by gathering
talented people of various kinds from all over the world
who are versed in digital art.
"Pussy point of view" --- the pornography
with women's eyes >
"I.K.U." monopolised the topics at the Sundance Film
Festival and more than 20 other international film festivals.
At all film festivals, "I.K.U." was regarded
of "the pussy point of view", the seeings
of sex from vagina. Many women accepted "I.K.U."
and made the comment, "I wanted to see more penises!"
director is also a female and the seven replicants "Reiko"
are the key to the story. A world that is like being
in the different dimension or in cyberspace is somehow
tender like being in the womb. This differs from the
usual pornography that exists only as an outlet of man's
desire, "I.K.U." is the brand new pornography
that was born for the next generation.
The mosaic data is the I.K.U. data >
I.K.U. data is made up of visual and voice data in mosaic.
Of the countries which have regulations against sexual
expression, Japan's is one of the most nonsensical.
Hiding genitals by mosaic peculiarly grew in the field
of pornography in Japan. Japanese men have gained their
imaginating women's genitals beyond the mosaic visuals
and voices. That is to say that Japanese people have
made themselves into an exceptional nation which is
aroused by a mosaic. "I.K.U." chose Tokyo
in near future for its stage to parody their ecstasy,
and expressed orgasm data in the pattern of a mosaic.
Shue Lea Cheang
Interview whit Geert Lovink
Lea Cheang is one of the few artists I know able to
operate in both the
media arts and the contemporary arts
world of museums and galleries.
in Taiwan, Shu Lea left Taipeh after the democratic
changes and worked in New York as a member of the
Paper Tiger Television collective to become a truly
global artist in the nineties. It is hard to keep
track of Shu Lea and her projects. I got to know
her when we both worked in the media lab of the
Society for Old and New Media in Amsterdam.
At the time, around 1998, she was producing the
Brandon project, with programmers and designers
of the Society, a website and installation which
deals with gender and identity on the Net. She then
moved to Tokyo to produce her first feature film
in the sci-fi porn genre. The following e-mail exchange
took place over a few months in the second half
Where are you? It is hard to keep track of you, digital
in, at this moment? You are such an expert in freaking
art institutions. Excellent. I know you are not looking
perse. Still, your work provokes people, at some stage,
a direct, obvious manner. You are well known for strategy
that in Japan.
Where I am, in terms of my X-Y positioning or Location
body parts as compressed bytes, transmissible and available.
this year, I barely
scratched the skin in Germany, a bit of exchange
the German Federal Ministry of Internal Affaires over
Hi-Scan machine and internet. I was warned that sending
from suitcases onto the net, 'could possibly give information
to circumvent measures taken for the protection of attacks
of air traffic.'
do play by rules. My intention written in proposals
are stated out front
dealings with Institutions. I stepped right into the
those of Tokyo Central Government and Okinawa over US
military base issues, during my residency in Okinawa
with the project, 'Elephant Cage Butterfly Locker' (1996).
The exhibition at Tokyo's Atopic Site led Japan's censorship
debate after the recordings of my meetings with Tokyo
Government representatives were published. Back in 1995,
I got into trouble with Bowling Alley at Walker Art
Center. The museum commanded the site to bear a warning,
'This Site contains mature subject matter. Discretion
was on the eve of US Congress' delivery of Communication
Decency Act, the museum had yet to configure the cross-section
of public and private space. When Brandon was presented
at the Guggenheim Museum, all cautious procedures were
taken to ensure that subversiveness could work within
You have specialized yourself in on a highly specialized
meta level of
media work. It is the realm of the pure conceptual.
In doing so, you
almost entirely on other people's design, programming
work, editing, pre- and post-production. Almost every
aspect of your huge productions such as the interactive
online installation Brandon and the sci-fi porn film
IkU, are realized by third parties. How would you describe
your work? Art director, media manager, concept artist?
Why do you insist on the division of expertise as 'realized
Every aspect of production works toward realization
of concepts. I
with my parties on a conceptual level. I take the credit
in executing large scale productions. I decide with
the writers, designers, programmers, cinematographers
who I would
with. They are each self-claimed art practitioner in
I seek collaboration as I conceptualize the projects.
I have carried
my art installation as a filmmaking practice or directing
a film as a
scale installation. I think there remains this romantic
notion of the
as loner and a sole operator. I do not practice art
as self expression. The urgent command from the 'meta'
level has designated me to be
How do you feel about the division of labour you are
Concept_proposal_design sketches_routing public interface.
project CARRY ON for IFU (International Women University),
with IMK:MARS/GMD as part of their CAT (Communication,
Art & Technology network) initiative. (http://imk.gmd.de/mars).
a computer scientist made system analysis of the concept
system programmers collaborated on database network
platform and Java applet application. It was a group
effort to configure languages and
the systems hard and soft.
Let's speak about discontent in media activism - and
what to do about
visual poverty. You have been a member of Paper Tiger
Television, back in the late eighties. Like me, you
have ambivalent feelings, about the
danger of activism, using whatever medium or platform,
falling back into the one-dimensional styles of the
video diary, documentary journalism and plain propaganda.
Which strategies would you suggest to escape these obvious
traps? The concept of 'tactical media' has been developed,
intending to bring together media activists and new
media artists. Are cross fertilizations sufficient?
Is it an option to abandon the 'activism' label altogether?
Good news is the renaissance. The WTO protest in Seattle
(December 1999) has brought up a whole new (rave) generation.
Then there is the concept of hacktivism. The dark period
of neo-Luddism and pessimism seems to be over. What
esthetics, in your view, could further energize, broaden,
and critique the current global movements?
Back in the 80's, we were out on the streets. There
was this sense of
connectedness, camcoder media and satellite feed. The
for information flow-- shoot, deliver and act. It took
a while for
collectives to make transition onto the Net. but then,
the nature of
on the Net may also contribute to infodata overload
and scattered social bodies. Shared information does
not amount to counter-activity. I did buy in the idea
of electronic disturbance. The Net sit in as media event,
but is it helping the movement? Or is it intellectual
exercise for computer crash course? The global net-connectedness
can be an illusion. Locality reclaims matterness when
political agenda is specified.
functions on conceptual level. I am encouraged by corporate
No One is Illegal's campaign on
is good example. Counter information is a slap in the
Corporate face one click away. Harwood's Uncomfortable
for Tate Modern goes further to demand side(site) by
And that is quite a few steps forward from demanding
a media slot.
You moved away from regular media activism for a certain
reason. What is so hot, so interesting and so strategically
important about the conceptual and formalistic level?
Is it a meta level? Should we consider this more powerful
compared to the ordinary levels of content production,
design or programming? Can we perhaps compare it with
the role of the film director or conductor?
You seem to be caught in a twisted complex here. Are
we back at the
of white/blue collar class struggle here? I use the
word 'level' for
replicants. Level 7 is my recent updated version of
humanoid IKU Coders or HiC agents. Level 4 is the retired
outdated copies. The machine drives me. A deliberate
take over of control key in my functionality. The machine
operates. The corporate schemes. The sole/soul artist
is out on the bound. Acting as 'floating agent digitale'
on my own terms, all directorial and conducting power
I am saying this because there is a general discontent,
the work done by activists, like going to demonstrations,
targeting governments and corporations for their policies
of direct action. I see a certain fascination with the
levels where power is located these days. Do you think
at the wrong spot when they go on the streets, blocking
I was just off track into daytime porn.... stepped into
a major web
'Webmasters, join us and increase your traffic drastically!'
windows are launched one after another faster than I
can close them.
are screaming at me !! The Net era traffic jam with
hawking. Now, I have not seen activist organizations
Have you? Hyperlinks decentralize. Virtual sit in holds
flow. The power to be is clearly s(c)ited. One chooses
or comply. The road block is metaphysical. The streets
are up for
You can claim the streets for spirit refill or make
the move to say
in the final play.
Does it make sense for you to distinguish between a
practice and the mainstream porn industry? Which distinction
sense for you? Is it a matter of high and low culture?
I suppose you
agree that the mainstream porn industry is reproducing
the worldwide male dominance and patriarchy. Obviously
certain parts of the emancipated middle classes, the
upwardly mobile gays, cosmopolitan lesbians, bi-sexual
office workers etc. do need their own porn. In that
sense 'art porn' is a niche market. Still, I suppose
you are not just working for a market. You want more.
What drives you to make these films, apart from the
fact that it is fun.
I have wanted to get away from institutions and funding
cycles for a
I stepped into porn production as a director for hire
with an indie
producer. With my producer, we have all intentions to
make money with this film. But it has proved to be quite
difficult as the film doesn't fit into any specified
self claimed Japanese scifi porn I.K.U. (2000, Uplink
Co.) operates on
concept, the meta level in your term. In every sense,
it meant to
'the worldwide male dominance and patriarchy', the hard
on dick that upholds. Here I want to distinguish my
practice from that of art porn which I consider to be
a soft industry domain. I.K.U. <http://www.I-K-U.com>
confirms cyberporn as Corporate operation of level 7
hard and soft fusion. Ultimately, I.K.U. severs cumbersome
tentacles of the wired 90s' cyborg entity and initiates
the body as a gigabyte hard drive, self-driven by a
programmed corporate scheme. It updates VNS Matrix's
' The clitoris is a
line to the matrix.' by claiming 'The Pussy is the matrix'.
Do you mean that in the biotech cyberpunkish sense,
Is it the aim, still, to merge bodily functions with
that fantasy already implemented and played out? To
what extend do you see the sexualized techno-body as
a role model, or let's say, reference of an unlikely
I am looking at a wireless digital mobile present with
no portal to
us; built in memory flash and gigabyte hard drive as
genetic mutation for ALL NEW GEN. The merge is complete.
We ride on the fantasy. Living comfortably with the
monster within, I assign my body as a self-programmed,
self generative sexual unit. This body functions with
an operating system that requires version update and
memory upgrade. The unlikely future has come and gone.
The retro future could be the next comeback.
Over the last years you have been one of few artists
who has managed to operate in both the 'contemporary
arts' field and in the much smaller scene of new media
arts. You have seen both worlds. How do these two rather
different fields, which both use the 'arts' label, relate?
Will they merge at some stage? Contemporary arts has
finally discovered video. How long will it take once
they will inhabit the computer networks? And will electronic
arts ever leave its own self-referential ghetto?
Hey, I am still working...and (projects) under development.
I did cross
a few fields. I am not really in that particular 'contemporary
But yes, I managed to work the medium. The new media
arts field is in step with software development. Technically
there are needs for
between artists and programmers, which can be best
by the Institutions. Like any large scale public installations,
new media art can be nurtured as commissioned art work.
The Corporate funding is at the core of this underwriting.
Here I am not neglecting the web as self-expression,
self-distribution medium for a genre of web artists.
However, to consider the Net as happening public space,
not simply a broadcast medium, how do we keep up with
web appointments? I want to feel collective breathing
(can be extended to collective orgasm) on my computer
for the self-referential ghetto, we have to grant the
the fun of mutual masturbation. They don't have to leave.
They own the Net. Meanwhile, the rest of the world strides
to catch up. Every art
must comply to digital update. Only yesterday we were
handing in our web work for 'permanent collection' at
the museums as long as they can
the archiving servers. Today, we float. (in market and
The dealers will eventually come around and work the