Invited as the only non-Asian to participate in the first Fusing International Biennale in 2008, I arrived in Taipei ready for an adventure but totally unprepared for the typhoon that hit within hours. I had never experienced such heavy winds and torrential rains over such an extended period of time. I was a virtual prisoner in my hotel when the weather reports tracked the typhoon as it moved across the island wrecking havoc.
I was a traveler, a privileged artist from the U.S., holed up in a fancy hotel watching the TV as huge buildings crumbled during the flooding. On the occasions when I ventured out, it seemed life was going on quite normally on the streets. Sure, stores, restaurants, and businesses were closed, but a lot of traffic was out on the roads of the capital city.
Three days later, the typhoon had passed, and I was scheduled to be in my next destination, Taichung. It wasn’t until I took the train south that I saw firsthand the devastation.
The weather cleared revealing a beautiful country. My time in Taiwan extended to visits in Lugang (sometimes written as Lukang) and Kaohsiung thanks to my generous hosts at the biennale.
Etched on my mind was the weather reporting of the typhoon. Later when I saw a collection of antique maps at the National Palace Museum, the images were somehow overlaid in my mind with the red rings swirling warning of heavy winds steadily approaching.
I went on to make a series of works on paper as a result of my time in Taiwan. I also created a collection of photographs as well as a four-channel video mashup installation, which includes one channel titled TW: deluge.
How to map while discovering and how to discover while mapping?