Gods of Water: Kuang-Yi Ku Solo Exhibition

Water Separates but Also Connects Us  
Gods of Water: Kuang-Yi Ku Solo Exhibition   
Text|Erica Yu-Wen Huang
Water separates us in many forms, including rivers, streams, and seas, but it then revisits us as rain, fog, snow, and much more; however, today, it seems to frequent us in the form of “disasters.” Millennials have witnessed our world undergo explosive advancement, but at the same time, our world is also going through a process of demise due to resource depletion. Gods of Water: Kuang-Yi Ku Solo Exhibition employs “climate fiction” (cli-fi) as its creative methodology and also responds to the survival of the human race in the last two decades as the natural environment goes through drastic changes, and humanity shuffles between development and environmental conservation. Faced with the El Niño phenomenon, global warming, and climate change, we were seemingly taken back in time to the Medieval plague when several European countries were affected by severe floods in 2021, and in the same year, viral videos of flooding in the city of Zhengzhou in China’s Henan Province also plunged us into a state of distress. Fast forward to today, the United Arab Emirates recorded in April 2024 its heaviest rains in 75 years, when a year’s worth of rain fell in a single day, which flooded the Dubai Airport and its ancillary roadways, disrupting travel through this major transportation hub that has been serving as an alternative transcontinental airway due to the Russia-Ukraine war. We seem to face looming threats in our current state, so how should the future be imagined?
Gods of Water is an ongoing art project by Kuang-Yi Ku, and this exhibition, comprised of three sections, shows Ku’s research and investigation on water-related disasters, proposing three hypotheses for a future society where the threat of water has resulted in the following three cult values: information, weapons, and media. “God of Technology” presents the artist’s vision of a future where humanity is dominated by “supercomputers,” which echoes the AI trend that we are currently under (after NVIDIA delivered the world’s first AI supercomputer to OpenAI). “God of Weapons” suggests that under the threat of extreme climates, especially in the context of international relations, geopolitics, and arms-control wrangling, conspiracy theories can be easily manipulated and fabricated. In the face of humankind’s inability to deal with the natural environment, weather weapons that can generate natural disasters appear like an inevitable possibility. The final section, “God of Rumors,” is based on the fact that everyone in contemporary times has become inseparable to social media, and those with large social media following can become opinion leaders, which has become another way to gain power through dictating people’s minds and steering public opinion. These three artworks focus on the shifts and changes in human nature, desires, and emotions amid disasters. Through the speculated future scenarios proposed by the artist, the audience can further reflect on our relationship with the natural environment by contrasting reality with the hypotheses.
In parallel to the exhibition, Kuang-Yi Ku also collaborates with various experts and organizations throughout the art project’s conception and creative process, including research specialists Yi-Chi Wang and Shun-De Wang, and he also works with the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC) and conducts cli-fi writing workshops. Ku has also extended this work model to the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University by offering an undergraduate course on “Speculative Design and Storytelling” and a graduate course on “Cli-fi Prototyping,” using the proposed methodology to encourage discussions on how to imagine the future of climate change. During the eight-week exhibition, five groups of young artists who have taken the course will be invited to present their visions on the future of climate change. Their creative formats include lecture performance, participatory performance, and interactive board game, where the audience can engage with the creative works and contemplate how we can cope with a future of increasingly extreme climates.
Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” Hopefully, we will have already come up with a better solution the next time a flood comes.
Organizer: Chew’s Culture Foundation
Presenter: Hong-Gah Museum
Sponsors: Ministry of Culture Taiwan
Artist|Kuang-Yi Ku
Curator|Erica Yu-Wen Huang
Venue|Hong-Gah Museum
Opening & Round Table Discussion|2024.07.13 (Sat.) 14:00
Speakers|Kuang-Yi Ku (Artist), Shun-De Wang (Climate Change Researcher)
Moderator: Erica Yu-Wen Huang (Curator)