Arts and Culture
Histories of Taiwan cinema are accompanied by colonial histories. During the Japanese colonial era, benshi (narrative speaker for a silent film) creates a political strategy against the ideology of Japanese propaganda. Taiwanese benshi marks a specific phenomenon in the histories of Taiwan cinema because they appropriate the tradition of benshi, which was originated from Japan, into a political and identity rooted in Taiwan. A benshi “cuts” some information from the film and “pastes” a new way of seeing images with his eloquence to arouse a local cultural identification. The body of benshi becomes a symbol of identity, and we can consider the “cut and paste” as a strategy of cultural indigenization. Here, “cut and paste” does not refer to "collage” in the European context, but tsián-liâm (剪黏，Ceramics Cutting and Pasting), a Taiwanese traditional handcrafting technique to decorate Taoist temples.
In order to answer the question whether there is a potential space for an indigenous culture in cinema, I will analyze two works, «Return» and «Taipei Park» by Taiwanese video artist Shake. In the both works, she applies the concept of tsián-liâm to create a multi-dimensional space-time on the surface of image. The human body is also used in the works as an imprint of identity. In this study, I will examine how the artist reveals the palimpsest histories (both political and cinematic ones) with the intervention and the presence of human body.