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  •  BF:      What is the primary focus of your creative enquiry?

    YTC:   Currently, I am interested in sound installations and performances, but the topics really vary, such as childhood memories, death, soundscapes.  For me, the artworks question and express my thinking. So I believe my main creative inquiry will change and develop alongside my  life experiences.

     

    BF:      How do you use technology in your artistic practice?

    YTC:  I usually get the concept first and then look at how I want to present it. When the core context is clear, I check and research the technical part from what I know, workshops and - Googling is definitely in the technological process -  it is such a useful 'how to' tool. 

     For example, my current work "Whose Scalpel" is a sound performance combined with visual and 3D printed installation, realized with an application framework for medical image processing. I knew how to make the sound in Pure Data, and connect to Arduino but I had no idea how to produce 3D printed visual. So I spent some time learning the software on the internet to create the short 3D animation for the performance. I also got a lot of support and information from Fraunhofer MEVIS team and Ars electronica team for the 3D printed model and medical image in the piece.

    If the technology really fits the idea of the artwork, even if I do not know how to use it initially, I will find a way to learn how to!  Sometimes, it makes me so frustrated, but it actually makes  the creative process so much more interesting and  I am always learning more. 

     

    BF:      What role do you think art plays in science?

    YTC:  One influences the other in reality, but if I have to focus on the art role in science, then, personally, I think art can explore science from a different place.  Art is so flexible,  it can look at new combinations and ideas coming from the sciences in a new way.  It can imagine effects on society, and present scientific ideas to the public in a new more approachable way.  I love the idea that  scientists and audiences  have more opportunity for discussion and open dialogue in our society.   

    In the second week of September, Taiwanese artist and Baby Forest Creator Yen Tzu Chang will perform her latest work, Whose Scalpel, at the ARS ELECTRONICA Festival in Linz, Austria, the world's leading festival where art meets technology meets society.

  •  An early 3D image of Yen Tzu Chang's heart made during the making of 'Whose Scalpel'  c. 2017 Yen Tzu Chang

  •  In the process of MRI scanning for 'Whose Scalpel' c. 2017 Fraunhofer MEVIS

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  • The artist's 3D heart model for the installation/performance "Whose Scalpel" c. 2017 Yen Tzu Chang / Fraunhofer MEVIS

     

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  • Visuals used as part of the performance of "Whose Scalpel" c. 2017 Yen Tzu Chang 

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  • In the process of MRI scanning for 'Whose Scalpel' c. 2017 Fraunhofer MEVIS

     

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  • .BF:     How well did the residency accommodate an ‘artist’ working in a scientific environment, and essentially their workplace? 

    YTC: I was astonished when I saw the intense residency schedule and they continuing adding more meetings!  This was, however, a normal schedule for scientists in applied R&D.  I had some idea and expectation of how it would be but the schedule was crazy busy! Fotunately, I had a project developer/mentor at Fraunhofer MEVIS who oversaw the residency and helped with sources of information, resources and with whom I could discuss things. I wanted to do so many things in two weeks and to experience as many new things as I could.  It was really tiring, but I was like the "Super Mario" who eats mushrooms and gets stronger!  I began to learn so fast!  I was allocated a desk but it was really rare for me to work in front of the desk because I had so much to do - meetings with the scientists, experiments, scanning my heart with MRI.  The meetings helped me a lot, once I learned to book everyone in advance, and fitted in with the organisation systems, I had access to all the experts!  

     

    BF:      Were there many limitations or rules you had to work under?  How did this suit the artist practice?

    YTC:  Yes, I guess.  But really we devised a new working structure for the project.  I sometimes worked with the team,  and I got the support from Fraunhofer MEVIS and Ars Electronica.  I needed to up-date people, explain my ideas so had to include proper presentations in my process (not just the 'notes to self' that I am used to as an artist).  When I presented and couldn't explain some of the questions I got, I knew my ideas needed more clarity - this feedback was invaluable, so although having to prepare presentations took big chunks of time out of my process, I could see how it made me work better.

     

     BF:     What has made the most impact on you and your artistic practice from the residency and what have you discovered that will you take with you from the residency?

    YTC: The residency changed my regular working space and patterns.  In the first few days of art residency, I needed to figure out the basics: where to buy foods, what people usually eat, how to get materials I want, where to meet people, how people work, and how to communicate with people in a large organisation.  It took longer than expected to get everything on track, but, little by little I understood the local culture. It was fresh energy for life and work.  It was a precious opportunity to work in different organizations and meet different people from different cultural backgrounds. And I worked on and produced an interesting piece as a result.

  • BF:     Tell us more about 'Whose Scalpel'

    YTC:  “Whose Scalpel” is a sound performance combined with visual and 3D print installation, and is realized within an application framework for medical image processing. Mixing several methods from art and science, it imagines the medical future and presents issues of relationship between human and machine in the context of a heart surgery. I developed the idea from three different areas  learned about in residency - the application of sound in medical science, coronary artery bypass surgery, and machine learning. The background story of the performance is based on the assumption that in the near future, surgeons will work with artificially intelligent machines that give advice during surgery.  My piece is an open-ended story forcing people to thinking about how it will or could end. I hope it will provoke reaction because this is going to happen in the not too distant future, and we need to think seriously about the consequences of AI (Artificial Intelligence).  Maybe instead of opposing or relying too much on the technology and losing our core human values, it is more important to think more about how we learn, integrate and work with these artificially intelligent machines and what the outcome of that may be." 

     

     Yen Tzu Chang will be performing 'Whose Scalpel'  at the ARS Electronica Festival in Linz on:

    September 7    19.40 - 20.00

    September 9   16.20 - 16.40 

    September 11   17.20 - 17.40

    For further information visit:   www.aec.at/ai/en/

     

    A big thank you to Bianka Hofmann and the team at Fraunhofer MEVIS and all at ARS Electronica for their support of  Baby Forest Creator Yen Tzu Chang, their work within the spaces of the arts, science and technology, and creating much needed dialogue for us all to think and care about our future world and society.

     

    Explore more of Yen Tzu Chang's work here                    View Yen's live performance from the ARS Electronica Festival here

     


     


  • BF:      How does this fit with the ARS Electronica/Fraunhofer MEVIS residency?  What interested you to take part ?

    YTC:  Firstly,  I was trained as a painter and that included classical anatomical drawing;  how to draw the human body correctly; we studied the organs, bones, and muscles, etc. It was fascinating and inspirational, but I left this inspiration on the drawing board.  With this residency, I got the chance to understand how scientists work with body image for medical purposes and I have the opportunity to get my body image. It gives me to move my interest forward and extend it to my current practices.

    Secondly,  this project is not only about me making artworks, but also about holding workshops for 13-14 years old pupils. Ars Electronica and Fraunhofer MEVIS are keen to involve young people in new dialogues concerning the technological developments in our world, and it is very much a part of  the residency program and the workshops. The field of medical technology is something that I had never experienced before, but it is exactly why this program is so exciting. I am eager to learn medical knowledge and technologies from scientists. On the other hand, after combining them with my own specialties, I can propose new possibilities from very different aspects. And then I get to explore and discuss that with the school pupils - it's exciting!

     

    BF:      The educational participatory elements for school students seemed an invaluable part of the project - was it?  What did both you and they get from it?

    YTC:  Indeed, that was such a nice and unique experience. We had different ages, coming from different countries, speaking different languages, and educated in different education systems. We came together because of this project and we worked together to create artworks with sound and medical images.  I had a great time with pupils. Initially, I thought the workshop would change my position from "taker" to "giver", but, actually, the position was far more dynamic. I also learned a lot from them. They were really creative and full of energy. The outcomes were very impressive!   

     

     BF:      How were you selected for the Residency?  How did it happen?

    YTC:   I got an invitation from Ars Electronica and they asked me if I would be interested to submit an idea relating to medical images. I needed to write a proposal for the project, and I locked myself in at home for almost one week except going out for foods! In that crazy week, I did so much research and discussed my concept with friends via the internet!  I modified the proposal again and again to give my best. I am so glad that they selected me! I also appreciated the challenge this project provided.

     



     

     


      

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  •  In the second week of September, Taiwanese artist and Baby Forest Creator Yen Tzu Chang will perform her latest work, Whose Scalpel, at the ARS ELECTRONICA Festival in Linz, Austria, one of the world's leading festivals where art meets technology meets society.

    The festival's theme this year is Artificial Intelligence, and Yen's work is the culmination of an exploration into this world thanks to an artist residency hosted by ARS Electronica and the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing (MEVIS). This residency, named STEAM imaging (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths), was originally developed by Fraunhofer MEVIS during 2016 in collaboration with SPACE (London) and realized in 2017 with Ars Electronica to stimulate implementation of, and critical dialogue about new technology within society.

    Ars Electronica is a cultural, educational and scientific institute active in the field of new media art. Since opening in 1979, ARS Electronica has sought to look at the connections between art, technology and society and Fraunhofer (MEVIS) is a leader in the field of medical image computing.

    Yen Tzu Chang, a new media artist, whose work incorporates experimental sound performances and who specializes in creating customized electronic pieces of art, has created an exciting new work, which involves medical images captured from her body to create what she calls an ‘open-heart art surgery’.  A piece which asks questions about the consequences of AI in the world of surgery.

    Talking here with Yen, we discuss the whole experience of an artist in residence, what it has meant to her, how it has helped progress her work and career - and to take a closer look at the resulting work 'Whose Scalpel'.


    BF:  Artist collaborations with organisations are becoming more and more popular - do you think they are beneficial? What is the greatest value in these kinds of collaborations?

     

    YTC: Yes, I think they can be beneficial, but it really depends on the type of project and working styles of artist and organisation. There are some projects that need some time to digest and develop without stress, and it is difficult to find institutions who understand and support this. But working with organisations on meaningful projects carry the benefit of discussing and learning about a subject with the experts, gaining access to cutting edge information which can shape and form the project.  This residency has allowed me to discuss my art with a different type of audience, these experts have learned from how I interpret their work, and vice versa.  Having an educational element to this residency involving school children added great value to this particular project.  I get to be a part of a physical dialogue, rather than just performing my work then going home! Usually I only get to discuss my work with close friends or professors!


  • BF:  Artist collaborations with organisations are becoming more and more popular - do you think this is beneficial? If so, how?  What is the greatest value in these kinds of collaborations?

    YTC: Yes, I think this can be beneficial, but really depends on the type of project and working styles. Yet there are some projects that need some time to digest and develop without stress, so they are difficult to find institutions to support. But working with organisations has some obvious benefits like getting more chances to get to know people, discussing and learning with experts, foundings, and some advertisement for the artistic career. For me, I think the greatest value to collaborate with organizations is that to have more interactions and diverse, professional conversations with people in the early stage of the project. Otherwise, I usually discuss an artwork with people except close friends or professors after I publish it.

     


     

    2.   What is the primary focus of your creative enquiry?

    Currently, I am interested in sound installations and performances, but the topics are really various, such as childhood memories, death, soundscapes, etc.  For me, the artworks are like a platform to ask questions and express my thinking. So I believe my main creative inquiry will change in some years because of the lifestyle and the life experience are different.

     

    3.   How do you use technology in your artistic practice?

    I usually get the concept of artworks first and then I start to think how I want to present it. When the core context is clear, I check and research the technical part from what I have learned at the university and workshops or ask friends who probably know. Googling is definitely in the technological process. It is such a big help in our generation.

     

    For example, my current work "Whose Scalpel" is a sound performance combined with visual and 3D printed installation, realized with an application framework for medical image processing. I knew how to make the sound in Pure Data, and connect to Arduino but I have no idea how to produce 3D visual, and 3D printed for visual. So I spent some time to learn the software on the internet of creating the short 3D animation as the material in the performance. I also got a lot of support and information from Fraunhofer MEVIS team and Ars electronica team for the 3D printed model and medical image.  

     

    If the technology really fits the idea of artwork, even I do not know how to make it in the beginning, I will try to learn and work on it first. Sometimes, it makes me so frustrated, but it actually brings out so much fun in the creative process and from time to time I get to learn more and more.

     

    4.   What think art has a role to play in science?

    It is the influence and serves both sides, but if I have to focus on the art role in science, then, personally, I think art can explore the different views of science. Art is such flexible that it can not only attempt some new combinations and ideas from the sciences but also be one of nice approach for science to present to people. It would be great if the scientists and audiences get more inspirations and have more discussions in our society.   

     

    5.   How does this fit with the Fraunhofer Mevis residency?  What interested you to take part in this residency?

    There are two reasons. One is that, as what I said that I had a long term training of painting, which includes how to draw the human correctly such as the proportion of the human body, organs, bones, and muscles, etc. It was fascinating and inspired me, but I left this inspiration only on the graphic.

    Now, I get the chance to understand how scientists work with body image for medical purposes and have possibility to get my body image. It gives me to move this inspiration forward from graphic to my current practices.

     

    The other reason is that this project is not only making the artworks from the medical image but also bring the workshops for 13-14 years old pupils. The cooperation of Ars Electronica and Fraunhofer MEVIS follows the spirit even more strongly, which reflects in the framework of the residency program and the workshops. The field of medical technology is something that I have never experienced before, but it is exactly why this program is so exciting. I am eager to learn medical knowledge and technologies from scientists. On the other hand, after combining them with my own specialties, I can propose new possibilities from very different aspects.

     

    6.   How were you selected for the Residency?  How did it happen?

    I got an invitation from Ars Electronica and they ask me if I am interested to submit this residency which relates to medical images. I also needed to write a proposal for the project, for that I have locked myself at the home for almost one week except going out for foods. In that crazy week, I did so much research and discussed with my friends about my concept via internet. I had modified the proposal again and again to give my best. I am really glad that they selected me eventually. I am also appreciated that I got the chance to challenge this project.

     

     

    7.   How well did the residency accommodate an ‘artist’ working in a scientific environment, and essentially their workplace?  There must have been constraints that you had to work under to fit into the organisational structure and residency goals, eg. expectations and outcomes, time schedules, communication channels, allocation/time provided for meeting slots, focussed work, delivery of results, reporting and up-dating, etc.

    I was astonished when I saw the intense residency schedule and it was like continuing adding more meetings. But it seemed a regular schedule for scientists in applied R&D. I had some ideas and expectations for residency, however, I did not know who I should reach. The schedule showed that the project developer and my mentor at Fraunhofer MEVIS takes care this project and brings out more sources which I can do during the residency and discuss with me. Besides, I wanted to do many things in two weeks and I am always open-minded to experience new things. It was really tired, but I was like the "Super Mario" who eats mushrooms and gets stronger, I improved my life experience so fast.   

     

    I had a desk with a computer in a room which shares with two people. But it was really rare for me to work in front of the desk because I had a lot of other works such as meetings with the scientists, experiments, scanning my heart with MRI and etc. Especially, arranging meetings helps me a lot because as what I saw, all the other people were really busy and I did not want to distribute them. Booking meeting in advance helps me to feel freer to communicate with experts.

     

    8.   Were there many limitations or rules you had to work under?  How did this suit the artist practice?(There must have been constraints that you had to work under to fit into the organisational structure and residency goals, eg. expectations and outcomes, time schedules, communication channels, allocation/time provided for meeting slots, focussed work, delivery of results, reporting and up-dating, etc.)

    Yes, some things like rules, but I would say it's a new working structure. In this project, I sometimes work with the team and got the support from Fraunhofer MEVIS and Ars Electronica, so I need to present the current working status and explain the technical idea. Since I need to give presentations and discuss with people, I cannot just draw some simple sketches and make some marks which only me can understand. I have to make the idea understandable and clear. It takes extra time to prepare. In the end, I realize that it is totally worth to do. For example, sometimes I thought I'm clear for everything, but I couldn’t answer the question from other people, which means there are some details I haven’t think about yet. Feedbacks make this extra effort valuable. It helps me work better.

     

    9.   The educational participatory elements for school students seemed an invaluable part of the project - was it?  What did both you and they get from it?

    Indeed, that was such a nice and unique experience. We have different age, come from different countries, speak different languages, and educated in different education systems. We met each other because of this project and we worked together for creating artworks with sound and medical images.  

     

    I had a great time with pupils. Initially, I thought the workshop changes my position from "taker" to a "giver", but, actually, the position was more dynamic. I also learned a lot from them. They were really creative and full of energy. The outcomes were very impressive!   

     

    Another thing worth to mention is the language barrier. I had to give the workshops in English since my German is not good enough. Although most of the pupils can speak English, few of them cannot. So I was worrying about it. But I got some translation help from Sabrina, a scientist who gave the workshops together with me for the medical images. There were also some parts we could understand each other without using any language. I could see how they focus on learning to program, soldering and trying out everything. And they could also understand my effort on them from my presentation and my help for fixing technical problems. What I want to say is: language is important in the communication, and yet we could all feel the barrier, but actually, it wasn’t a problem at all. We all had a lot of fun and learned a lot from each other, that’s the point.

     

    10. What has made the most impact on you and your artistic practice from the residency and what have you discovered that will you take with you from the residency?

    The residency changed my regular working space and life that I used to for a period of time. In the first few days of art residency, I needed to figure out where to buy foods, what people usually eat, how to get materials I want, where to meet people, how people work, and how to communicate with people. It could probably take longer than I expected to get everything on the track, but little by little I understood the local culture. It was a fresh energy for my life. It was not only for tourism, it was a precious chance to work in different organizations and meet different people who come from different cultural backgrounds.



    11. Artist collaborations with organisations are becoming more and more popular - do you think this is beneficial? If so, how?  What is the greatest value in these kinds of collaborations?

    Yes, I think this can be beneficial, but really depends on the type of project and working styles. Yet there are some projects need some times to digest and develop without stress, so they are difficult to find institutions to support. But working with organisations has some obvious benefits like getting more chances to get to know people, discussing and learning with experts, foundings, and some advertisement for the artistic career. For me, I think the greatest value to collaborate with organizations is that to have more interactions and diverse, professional conversations with people in the early stage of the project. Otherwise, I usually discuss an artwork with people except close friends or professors after I publish it.

     

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