Single Copy

副本人|Single Copy
Video Installation, Glass fiber

This work is a cooperation with the long-time collaborator, scriptwriter Chen Wan-Yin.

Hsu Che-Yu produce a digital-scan model and fiberglass cast of the body of the first Taiwanese conjoined twins. Through this process, Hsu attempts to explore the workings of biopolitics and the functioning of one’s memory.

The first conjoined twins underwent separation surgery in 1979 and the whole procedure was broadcast on TV. During that period, Taiwan was under martial law. In this way, this surgery was often interpreted as a metaphor for the relationship between Taiwan and China.

Back in 1979, in order to prepare for the separation surgery, the hospital invited an artist to make a cast of the conjoined twins. The attempt to make a cast was however unsuccessful, since it was difficult to control the babies during the moulding process.

In this project Single Copy, Hsu Che-Yu has re-casted the body of the now 43-year old Chang Chung-I, and also use 3D scanning technology to archive his body. The data from the archive are then used as sources for capturing memories from Chang’s earlier life. When Chang was 21 years old, he played a role in the movie, Falling Up Waking Down, portraying a teashop owner whose shop was inside a converted old bus. About two decades later, Chang has repeatedly thought about what it would be like to run that old bus-converted teashop. In real life, Chang is married with two kids, and this artwork overlaps his present life with the fictional setting.

For the conjoined twin separation surgery performed in 1979, the hospital invited an artist to cast a mold of the infant’s body as an exercise before the surgery started; eventually, the mold was not completed. Now that technology is more advanced, the hospital chooses to use 3D digital scan as a replacement of the older mold-casting technique when it performs conjoined twin separation surgery.

In this work, Hsu Che-Yu uses both the old and new techniques at the same time to reproduce Chang Chung-I’s body. On one hand, this is a tribute to the history of medical technology and film history; on the other hand, through actual transfer rubbing and virtual reproduction, this is a contemplation over the third “shared leg” lost due to the surgery: there was no fingerprint on the leg, and the two conjoined brothers could feel and control it together, but it could not be given to either person after they were separated. The existence or abandonment of the leg became a dialectical choice between “one or two.”

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