(click picture to see larger view)

The Map of 53 Kao Yuan
Phoebe Man
Kao Yuan Art Center

Thank you for the invitation from the Director of Kao Yuan Art Center, Chang Hwei Lan and I can have an exhibition in Kao Yuan University. I want to make a public art which is related to the space. To make the work, I conducted a survey to find out which is the most favorite space of the members of Kao Yuan University. I made use of the data in the survey to make a new map of Kao Yuan University. Through this process, I hope I can know the space and the people of Kao Yuan University better.

To Make a Site Specific Public Art

This idea is inspired by the theory of Psychogeography. It is "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals," according to Guy Debord's "Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography". Map is not always objective. It can be subjective and it can be changed by an individual's mood and experience. Therefore I am thinking of using a survey to draw a map.

Thanks for the help of Kao Yuan Art Center. 53 questionnaires returned. The result is that people like the Kao Yuan Lake most, then the Library, Kao Yuan Art Center, Central Road.... I did a similar survey in the University of Hong Kong. The result is the same. Most people think that it is very important that the space is comfortable and relaxing. The definition of beauty of Kao Yuan members is spacious, quiet, bright and having grass, flowers and water. The difference result between the two Universities is that members of Kao Yuan put more emphasis on the atmosphere of culture and art. Perhaps the history of the Hong Kong University is longer, more people talked about historical feeling and symbolic meaning. More people in Hong Kong prefer the space because of the function and the facilities of it and they can meet people there.

University of Technology Emphasizes Art and Culture

I was surprised by the result. Kao Yuan is a technology university but the members show preference on items art, culture and nature. The overall atmosphere of culture in Taiwan is better than Hong Kong. Hongkongese and Taiwanese are both like comfortable and relaxing space. Whether the space is a landmark or not, most people think it is not important. Hong Kong has a 'landmark culture'. Almost every government built new building wants to be recognized as a landmark. If the purpose of their existing is to make the users happy, they may never meet the point.

One respondent talked about the space he doesn't like. I think this student is pretty smart and doesn't follow the rules. I also asked myself why should it be restricted to the most favorite space only. Am I not being critical enough? In fact, talking about one's most favorite space has already implied where the less favorite places are. In our lives, the media like blood, anger, dirty and ugly stuff. To make an artwork, I want to start with something positive and beautiful. If I have another chance to make an artwork for the same space, I would consider asking about the least favorite space.

Artificial Becomes Natural

I circle the space once if someone chose it. If more people chose it, I will add a new circle inside a circle. They are like contour lines and mountains. They are also like compressed histogram. It also reflects my desire to turn the artificial architecture into natural mountains. The changing outlook of this map is not decided by one person. It is done by the votes of the public. To change the map is to emphasize the importance of an individual and the public. It can be subjective and imaginative. It shows the desire of an individual, the culture and the memories of a group of people. It can also function as a map to show the way (what the public wants to go) and the position (of the architecture in the heart of the public).

Individual Public Map
There are two kinds of public art. One is the art that put in public space. Another one is the art that shows public views. My work is the latter one. The work reflects the view of the public. Besides I would also place copies of the school map in the exhibition space. The audience can make their own versions of maps and show them in the exhibition space. For examples, what is the best space to sleep, chat and date in the school? The audience can mark them on the map. They can also cut the maps and reorganize them. The authority always designs maps, especially the city maps. and they are sometimes ignoring the public and the users. Might be it is time to rethink the relationship between the designers and the users.

P.S. The exhibition was done in January 2007. More than 60 viewers recreated the map of Kao Yuan University and voiced out their request. They want more playgrounds, more school bus stops and more green area. They want examinations all passed. They want love. Some of the students treated the map as a color filling game and drew pictures on it. If the architect of the school see this, s/he might think it is unacceptable. But why we can't base on the drawings to construct a campus? This is creative. I sent these pictures to the president of Kao Yuan University.

More than 60 viewers of the exhibition added drawings on the map of Kao Yuan University. (click picture to see larger view)

*Image source of The Map of 53 Kao Yuan: http://maps.google.com/