Tuesday, 20 September 2011

the biography

The focus of my research is the interaction between material culture and human activity.

I had several opportunities to participate in archaeological fieldwork when I was an undergraduate student. I was fascinated by the archaeologists who created a study subject based on a hybrid of time and space by digging at various sites, and locating and categorizing the remains using horizontal grids and vertical layers via a soil color chart. Although the archaeologists focused on the analysis of the remains found, without regard to the visual aspect of the archaeological discovery progress, their grids and layers system made a great impression on me.

Based on the kinship courses I have taken, I learned about the house society theory proposed by Claude Levi-Strauss. Levi-Strauss led us to rethink how a house as a material culture helps anthropologists to explore the visible and invisible relationships and activities in societies. For my B.A. thesis, I attempted to analyze the phenomena of multiple figures of one Mazu goddess in Taiwanese Mazu folk religions utilizing the house concept. I replaced temples for houses and used incense burners as the medium for figures sharing body substances. This attempt aimed to present the connection between identity and objects via “temples as houses” to understand how believers perceived the relations between Mazu figures. At the same time, for my NSC project, I continued to develop a house study via the study of international spouses living in rural villages. In that project, I noticed that sharing food and kinship duties were the main keys to converting foreign spouses to members in the family and house. During this period, I was training myself to think broader, beyond the kinship aspect of the house society theory.

To expand my knowledge and abilities for my postgraduate study with interdisciplinary collaboration, I enrolled in psychological linguistics courses in a graduate institute of linguistics to explore the connection between external presentation and internal logic. The Conceptual Metaphor Theory, proposed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, is a key concept that I learned from the courses in that it links objects under different categories via breaking the boundaries using the mapping principle. The mapping principle is a rule which connects the Target Domain (the idea or concept that is described) to the Source Domain (the object applied to describe the Target Domain). The Target Domain and the Source Domain are separated into different categories, so linguistics looks for attributes that are shared by both to understand the mapping principle. In anthropology, categorization is an important system in which the natives distinguish themselves from others, such as in Huang Ying-Kuei’s study concerning the Bunun’s food categorization system. The Conceptual Metaphor Theory aids in analyzing categorization and understanding how conceptual metaphors help natives configure information about the boundary between themselves and others. The house theory is similar to the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, since people construct their identities based on food sharing and living in the same house. In my subsequent studies, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory was a fundamental method in discovering the connection between houses and other objects in societies.

My M.A. thesis focused on the construction of identities via house-related material cultures. I integrated my previous studies with the Conceptual Metaphor Theory and created an archaeology project investigating a Paiwanese village and their abandoned settlement. I applied cultural layers to describe the migration of the tribes and the grids to locate their objects (i.e., house, tomb, and settlement), which were connected by the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Although the building sources had changed and the duration of the settlement was short because of multiple forced migrations, houses became the Source Domain for the identity metaphor. The reason houses became an abstract concept is the accumulation of migration stories about houses and their eventual separation from their tombs, where ancestors ceased living with the living physically and hence conceptually.

From my experience in anthropology studies, I have found shortcomings and restrictions in this methodology. Anthropologists obtain abundant information by staying at particular spots for long periods to investigate and study the daily life of natives as living biographies. Under those conditions, anthropologists are passive receivers and interpreters. The text is full of native terms creating an exotic atmosphere, and every culture seems different from other cultures. The result is that every culture is seen as independent, with a difficult-to-compare existence, and hence cross-cultural studies become a battlefield of vocabulary without holistic viewpoints. In contrast, I wanted to reverse this method of study to create a specific way to conduct cross-cultural researches. This shift is different from traditional anthropology, so I needed support from different disciplines to achieve my goal. At the same time, I found that contemporary art offered me a possible way to develop my experiment.

Grids and layers were applied by Josef Albers and Richard Paul Lohse to study the interaction between colours and to transform 3-D to 2-D, similar to the way archaeologists and anthropologists position objects in the field and convert their fields to text. After the work of these pioneers, grids and layers were widely adopted in the minimal and conceptual art movements. I referred to the works of different artists and adopted colours (layers) and grids as my tools to create a hybrid of time and space as my study subject.

My doctoral project involved visualizing Wi-Fi networks in London, Taipei, New York, Chicago, and Hong Kong to explore how individual networks construct urban landscapes and their identities. According to Le Corbusier, houses are machines in which we live. I reversed his idea, assigning Wi-Fi users as cyborgs (cybernetic organisms) living in Wi-Fi houses. Then I applied the house society theory to visualise Wi-Fi access points as houses with colours and grids to construct 3-D-based 2-D landscapes. Colours were translated from unique Wi-Fi machine codes that represented individual Wi-Fi machines. The codes could also be tracked to the manufacturer, so the colours also offered a connection between individuals and capitalism. This work presents the different aspects of Wi-Fi machines as a house metaphor in their respective societies and extended anthropology to study material culture and human activity via multiple ways to reveal the connection between them.



Archaeologists applied grid tool to locate the objects in The Deserted Village Project, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland.



Dureny-2, the section of culture layer, Dureny, Buryatia, Eastern Siberia, Russia.



Soil Colour Chart


因為大學的親屬研究課程,我接觸到了由Claude Levi-Strauss所提出的家屋社會理論。Levi-Strauss引領我們重新思考家屋做為一個物質文化,如何幫助人類學家研究人類社會中可見與不可見的關係與活動。為了讓自己更熟悉這個概念所可能的發展,我在學士論文中將其運用在台灣媽祖信仰中的媽祖分身現象,將廟宇視為家屋,香爐做為身體物質的共享媒介,描繪出媽祖信仰中認同與物體之間的關係,以了解信徒如何感知不同媽祖分身之間的關係。同時,我也在進行國科會的大專生專題研究計畫,我也將家屋研究應用到在文化田野課程中在屏東萬金所看到的跨國婚姻現象,分析外籍配偶如何藉由共食與親屬義務成為”同一口灶”的家人。

在進入研究所之後,我選修了語言所的心理語言學相關課程,以幫助研究人類活動所產生的外在呈現與內在邏輯之間的關係。在這些課程當中,概念隱喻是我所學習到的最重要的概念,因為其指涉的是與文化脈絡相關的隱喻,這部分的研究的重要性在於語言學家試圖尋找存在於隱喻Target Domain(是被隱喻之物)與Source Domain (用以描述隱喻之物)之間的對應原則(mapping principles)。藉由對應原則可以理解為什麼該社會文化使用某一個Source Domain去描述屬於不同類別的Target Domain,這對於人類學家相當重要,因為在過去的研究當中顯示,如黃應貴對於布農人的可食與不可食的研究,分類是確認人我之間關係的重要依據,但是隱喻卻可以打破當中的界限,顯現了隱喻是人類重新組態(configure)其原本分類關係的重要工具,正如同家屋是社會中藉由共食、同居與想像,重新連結與區分人我界限。所以概念隱喻成為我之後研究當中重要的研究方法,藉以探究家屋如何成為其他物質文化的概念隱喻,用以建立人群的認同。

我的碩士論文是研究與家屋相關的物質文化,如何幫助人類建立認同感。我將我之前所做的家屋相關研究以及概念隱喻,整合於一個調查排灣族舊社並且進行發掘工作的考古計畫當中。應用了文化層描述了部落的遷徙,以及將方格網線的概念用以定位其重要的物件(家屋、墳墓與聚落)於概念隱喻的網絡之中。在這個研究當中顯示了,家屋從做為居住的物質文化,因為不斷遷徙(縱向文化層的累積)與從室內葬轉變為室外葬的空間定位的改變,家屋成為了時間與空間上的複合體,因而擁有了獨立且兼具實體與概念的存在。即使建築材料等實體物質改變了,但是其作為概念上的存在反而因為成為隱喻中的Source Domain而被強化。


方格與分層被Josef Alber與Richard Paul Lohse應用於探索色彩之間的互動與轉化立體的物品與風景轉化為平面創作,就如同考古學與人類學家定位田野中的物件關係,再將其立體的田野轉變為平面的文字資料一般。在Josef Albers與Richard Paul Lohse具有開創性的作品之後,方格與分層也被極簡與概念藝術廣泛採用。我參考了不同藝術家的作品,最後採用了色彩(分層)與方格作為我的創造時間與空間混合的研究主題的工具。


Josef Albers, Homage to the Square – Nowhere, 1964.


Richard-Paul Lohse:

"Fünfzehn vertikale systematische Farbreihen mit violetten Diagonalen", 1975

我的博士論文研究計畫是視覺化倫敦、台北、紐約、芝加哥與香港的無線網路,並且探索個別的網路如何構成都市風景以及個人對於無線網路的認同感。Le Corbusier認為房屋就像是我們的居住機器,我翻轉其想法,假設無線網路使用者如同人機混合體(cyborg)居住在無線網路家屋當中。我在這些城市背著電腦收集無線網路,將自己轉變為人機混合體的無線網路土著觀察都市中的無線網路;再利用資料庫將收集到的龐大資訊予以即時分類,這些資訊是可以被重複驗證與應用不同方式在予以分類。與此同時,我應用了家屋理論,以及色彩與方格視覺化無線網路基地台,如同家屋以建立一個立體空間為主的平面風景。色彩是轉化自無線基地台獨一無二的辨識碼為網頁的色碼,以代表每一個無線基地台。透過辨識碼我們可以知道其製造廠商,所以由辨識碼所轉化的色彩連結了個人與資本主義。這個作品呈現的無線基地台作為家屋隱喻的不同面向,延伸了人類學透過不同的方法揭露物質文化與人類活動的的連結的研究取向。

home (1).jpg

The individual Wi-Fi Access points in New York


Taipei Wi-Fi Landscapes


2013 Landscapes on Internet Networks. Visual Studies Reader, Routledge


2011 London Wi-Fi Landscapes (digital book), San Jose: EZREAD INC.

2011 Exploiting inter-sample information and exploring visualization in data mining: from bioinformatics to anthropology and aesthetics disciplines.In Kimito Funato & Kiyoshi Hasegawa (Ed.), Knowledge-Oriented Applications in Data Mining (pp. 411-430). Rijeka: INTECH. (co-author with Kuan-Ming Lin)

2010 The Wi-Fi Cyborg. Cyborg Subjects, Volume 0, Online Journal.

2008 Wi-Fi Colour in Real World and Cyberspace: Cyborg Identity in Urban Wi-Fi Networks. International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.273-290.

2005 House and conceptual metaphor : a social boundary study of the Kuskus village in Pingdong county, M.A. Thesis, National Taiwan University, Unpublished.

2005 旅行、家屋與記憶-以屏東縣牡丹鄉高士村的物質文化硏究為例, 人類學的全球化與在地化硏究論文集; 台北,台灣國立臺灣大學文學院人類學系。

2001 在臺的外國太太—以屏東萬金的人類學研究為例, 人類與文化, 06/2001; 台北,台灣國立臺灣大學文學院人類學系系學會。


2010 Wi-Fi Networks as Materialized Media, BSA Annual Conference - The British Sociological Association from 7th to 9th April 2010, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.

2009 Wi-Fi Colour in Real World and Cyberspace: Cyborg Identity in Urban Wi-Fi Networks, 2009 International Conference on the Arts in Society from 28th to 31st July 2009, Venice, Italy.

2009 Wi-Fi colour in real world and cyberspace: cyborg identity in urban Wi-Fi networks in Taipei and Hong Kong, SEAA & TSAE Taipei 2009 Conference From 2nd to 5th July 2009, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

2008 Colourful life in cyberspace and the real world, Work in Progress: PVAC PhD Symposium on 28th May 2008, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

2004 旅行、家屋與記憶-以屏東縣牡丹鄉高士村的物質文化硏究為例, 國立台灣大學人類學系與中央硏究院民族學硏究所合作培訓計畫成果發表會, 台灣大學,台北。

2002 外國太太在台灣-以屏東萬金為例的親屬研究, 第三屆人類學相關系所研究生論文發表會, 5月24-25日,清華大學月涵堂,台北。


2011 Visualizing Wi-Fi Network via House Society Theory, http://www.metamute.org/en/news_and_analysis/visualizing_wi_fi_network_via_house_society_theory_1

2011 Participant observation and data visualization, http://www.metamute.org/en/news_and_analysis/participant_observation_and_data_visualisation


2011 London Wi-Fi Landscape, http://www.amazon.com/London-Wi-Fi-Landscape/dp/B004YXQI1E, Cuyahoga Falls: SongCast Distribution.

2011 Tube and Wi-Fi Sound in Music, http://official.fm/tracks/266727

2011 Wi-Fi London - ver. 4, http://official.fm/tracks/280240

2011 Beats in The Grid, http://official.fm/tracks/280674


2010 London Urban Wi-Fi Landscape Music, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jziXJy_hO9k

2010 London Wi-Fi walking, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAOINa5VjZk

2010 The sound of step, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMu1S5HvZBU

2010 New York Wi-Fi Landscape, http://vimeo.com/16345994

2010 Wi-Fi trip, http://vimeo.com/17010261


2011 London Wi-Fi Scores, http://www.saatchionline.com/art/Mixed-Media-Found-Objects-London-Wi-Fi-Scores/160262/1311707/view

2009 Group By Cites, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/choose_city.php

2009 Colour in different forms, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/

2009 "Cyborg in Wi-Fi London" Performance and Exhibition, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/cyborg_exhibition.php

2009 Wi-Fi in New York, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/ny.png

2009 Wi-Fi in Taipei, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/tp.png

2009 Wi-Fi in London, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/ln.png

2009 Wi-Fi in Leeds and Hong Kong, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/urban_image/lk.png

2009 Colour animation, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/wireless/en/colour_show.php
2007 Colorful Network--- Wireless Art Project, http://fireant.itaiwan.net/wireless/en/

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