Ceremonies Before Rewarding — Inviting the Immortals Ⅲ: Yang Mao-Lin Solo Exhibition

8 - 30 November 2003

At First I Thought the Contemplative Female Chin-kang Playing Cute-reading “Inviting the Immortals III: Ceremonies before Rewarding” of Yang Mao-Lin


By Chang Ching-Wen



Perhaps, just like Yang Mao-Lin’s statement said the “Inviting the Immortals III: Ceremonies before Rewarding” can be considered as an accident. Because in his original plan, the creation of this “Inviting the Immortals” series should have finished early on; however, the continuation of innovation has already incubated several times. Nevertheless, to me, the word, “Accident”, is even more of an accident. Yang Mao-Lin has always been famous for trying to innovate along a conscientious path. How can this allow for the existence of this accident?


True or Fake Immortals

In 1999, “Inviting the Immortals: High Officials’ Record of Cultural Mating” started “Inviting the Immortals”. Passing through three phases and turnovers, up until now, this should be considered as an end of a phase. Remembered the beginning of the “Inviting the Immortals”, it was just like a kind of outdoor-stage performance that will bring about wonder and excitement when it begins. The first phase of this work is painstakingly depicted with oil paintings and acrylic fiber colors. Images, such as Superwoman, Wu-Kung, Chien-Kou, Rock Man, and Sailormoon etc., from subcultural circles from various different countries, were integrated with folk culture images, which were from Chinese original traditions (for example, bats symbolize good fortune, paper cuttings for the celebration of holidays, and fragrant sacks for safe and peace etc.). In addition, slogan characters which were explanatory notes and comments in grouped styles came back to illuminate the current state of mixed culture in Taiwan. In the second phase, “Invite Fairy Groups”, Yang Mao-Lin begins from basic image composition technology. Besides cartoons, comics, and electronic games, these constructed images continue cultural content through warrior roles, such as Shin Getter Robo, Astroboy, and Gundam (BB Worrier). In addition, in Detective Conan, Hello Kitty, Pocket Monsters Pokemon, and Japanese adult films, female characters united and gave renditions of cultural mixing in their repertoires. There were some unbelievable catchphrases, regardless of whether it was “Defend Interplanetary Health to the Death” or imitating pornographic films and spoken lines with double meanings from 020478783535, at most they can all only be looked upon as taunted and unfounded announcements at best.


This time, in the final draft of “Inviting the Immortals III: Ceremonies before Rewarding”, Yang Mao-Lin once again went in the direction of another type of technological challenge. It was not the paintbrush, and it was not computer software, but it was woodcarving. It is unknown if it is related to his once again becoming a student, but Yang Mao-Lin had studied considerably conscientiously and diligently. He was nearly completely immersed in the creation of these woodcarvings and the research of Buddha statue styles. He also carefully considered and arranged for the roles that each character should play (of course in this part he was completely dependent on his subjectivity). Conditions such as this are pure recreational behavior, and they caused the “Inviting the Immortals” series to display actuality and letting go in struggle at the beginning to evolving into a genuine exercise of being immortals at the end.


From this Table to the Paradise 

Aside from the images of “Astro Buddha”, “Contemplative Female Vajradhara”, and “Ah Chiang Deva”, being created from wood carving, the God Altar and Eight-Immortals Altar were also personally made by Yang Mao-Lin. Yang Mao-Lin crossed over and then leapt out from the life experience, and the latent potential of each kind of thinking and value is implied as influencing him. Taiwan’s traditional folk beliefs combine Buddhism and Taoism, and altar symbols carefully follow the rites of Confucian thought during worship ceremonies. In addition, one kind of “altar” is specially used for the “fatigue of official correspondence”. From the instance that we become students, our teachers constantly give us encouragement to “study well and improve each day”. The values to actively keep forging ahead and the fear of repulsive looks and bland speech from not studying for three days, couple hardness with softness and encourage us to walk down the road of life. Yet, by mischance, when Yang Mao-Lin was sitting at his desk as a child, he only looked at Astroboy. Perhaps it was a kind of drastic idolization or it was a complete hatred that allowed him to transform Astroboy into a Buddhist immortal and send him to the Eight Fairy Altar.


Henceforth, going along this road of the Paradise, allows the idol to live and shed into a true idol. When these fictitious cartoons and comic idols have lived in the heart of Yang Mao-Lin, they become huge impressions of god figures, and they receive care. Yet, when they are not carrying out tasks, the nimble Pokemon also became a little riding horse. My meaning is that in this series of works, our consciousness of the origins of verbal meaning is deconstructed; moreover, a kind of very high deconstruction is used. This kind of flat method of clearing up will always allow it to be easy to grasp the explanations of this kind of composition. It is also impossible to bring a few misused theories into full play.


Therefore, in one work, “Inviting the Immortals” each road of Buddhist gods used meticulous class to construct a row of combat forces. The uppermost central part of the LCD monitors were surrounded and set off, and interlocking film editing of pictures from movies about war and sexual activities were broadcast (the thunder and rumble of guns from shooting in massive attacks) to make a disorderly sense mixing happiness and violence. Perhaps all of the subject matter chosen for this epitaph inscription can be seen as Taiwan’s culture coming down from the road of Yang Mao-Lin. He uses mating as a metaphor for the shaping of culture and the weak being preyed on by the strong brought about by warfare as well as hidden violent and fierce justice; moreover, he emphasizes the clash between the two in the shaping of culture as well as their opposing positions in the process of warfare. The number of respected subcultures provided on the altar for the Buddhist god, Bodhisattva, however, is unanimously auspicious and lucky. Using Yang Mao-Lin’s invincible collage allowed the Female Vajradharato be transformed into the bossy and autocratic Buddha on the heavens and the earth, and it allowed the simple and honest Ah-Chiang to be transformed into the Bodhisattva Deva. This graft of impressions allowed the veins of stories that we knew well originally to become like the paste in a dish of curry rice.


Collage and Not Paying For the Upkeep of Relations

Yang Mao-Lin’s “Inviting the Immortals Group” series consistently used the collage method to make a narrative tone. In cultivating virtue, Peter Bürger expounded on the effect of producing montages with the collage action, which was referred to in the progressive arts. Making the fragmentization of art works, and overturning recurring systems since the Renaissance, the purpose of this type of method is not necessarily for the result of the appreciation of beauty. Breaking, it is difficult to find a logical interpretation for the pictures, and this causes viewers to accept the obstructions and even causes amazement. The collage techniques utilized in Yang Mao-Lin’s “Inviting the Immortals” series were in response to the special characteristics of all that he desired to state - - a blending of cultural conditions. Between the images of conflict and warfare, the diverse features of cultural sentiments were also allowed to be manifest. This kind of image and the revolving of letters, from the “High Officials’ Record of Cultural Mating” series still had collages in moderation. By the “Pocket Monsters” series, this whimsical feel was increased. In the third part of the trilogy, the “Ceremonies before Rewarding” series, although the results of the collage do not look similar to the one-dimensional sex and violence before, randomness has gone even further. The solemn image of a Buddhist statue and the tight veins of scriptures, are pieced together and have different story backgrounds and different personalities between the cartoon characters. In actuality, early on we got used to watching the appearance of the rapid display of characters for instant news when watching mixed arts programs. Or perhaps, all day long, having the full line-up of each type of network platform information we can still pay attention to the screen for short intervals of time and have online friends glistening in the corner. The clashing effect of collages on us is perhaps unlike this intensity a few years ago. Therefore, the artistic works of this generation awaken the hopes of the viewers’ perceptions. Aside from strengthening the road of vigorous excitement from electrical currents, it otherwise seeks renewed methods of stimulation. Yang Mao-Lin’s “Ceremonies before Rewarding” gave up the character slogans in the first two series, and used ancient arts to carve lost rhymes for the gods. Adding all of the cartoon pictures floating on the surface layer of cultures, it is full of intervals of knowledge and logic. It can be seen that they were chosen to be viewed by Yang Mao-Lin for this cultural landscape and the delights of the collages are moved about and are not fully embraced as the intense emotion of paying for the upkeep of relations.


Planning Cannot Catch Up With Variation

Returning to the first part of the problem, Yang Mao-Lin has expressed, the accident in which “Inviting the Immortals Ⅲ: Ceremonies before Rewarding” came about was created by this batch of woodcarving pieces producing appeal. Regarding plunging into a class of fresh artistry, this finally allowed him to find a kind of pure appeal. The process of this type of handiwork was generally like the fabrication of model toys, and it could arrive at a state of never ending delight. Taking the form of the next series, an act “Ceremonies” in “Rewarding List”, and “Immortals” in “Inviting the Immortals” finally obtained the gift of Yang Mao-Lin’s seal. These few golden lights always shine and bring about future toys that are now becoming mottled and dignified, and they are held in the handprints of woodenhead images. In a moment they only live on the surface level of culture, and are repeating cultural totems of restless fluctuations that solidify and become spiritual icons which pass through time and space. Will their appearances be also again be forgotten by people or not? Moreover, ever since the spirit of the “Inviting the Immortals” series was connected --the posture of bad taste has been ruptured, and also when this final chapter was discovered, When Doraemon, Ta-Hsuing, Yi-Ching, Ah-Fu, and Chi-An are inlayed into the table leg of the Eight-Immortals Altar, and when in these cartoon and comic book characters of philistine interest are crowned with the ring of light that is sacred and incomparable, following this there will be a complete emergence of a shift to the acceptance of Taiwanese style collages. Yang Mao-Lin selected a casualness for this series of works, and this characteristic could was not found in most of the works prior to the “Inviting the Immortals” series. In today’s generation, when art has already been oriented towards the maximum development of omnipotence, among these extensive covers, artists are allowed to explore the frontiers of art to their greatest abilities. In this kind of open background, artists are allowed to be capable of unscrupulous and earnest appraisals, conscientious annoyances, and they can also diligently enjoy the benefits of all unexpected accidents.


Therefore, in this act of Rewarding, Yang Mao-Lin also secretly cast out values, and in the comics, he took the comedic character, Ah Chiang, and looked upon him as the supreme “Ah ChiangDeva”. This is because this kind of obtuse role is the norm that he yearns for in his heart. If it is solemn for too long, this will cause people to be weary. I think Yang Mao-Lin confronts the result of this kind of accident, and a glass of mixed fruit juice, which is the class of Taiwan’s culture, is bounding to be looked upon in the same way as happy and pleased with itself. Just as the first time that I caught sight of the “Contemplative Female Vajradhara”, she used one of her fingers pushing her cheek for playing cute, so what?! Culture is like human life; there is no standard answer.