Organized by the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Malaysia, produced by INXO Arts & Culture (L) Foundation, Tea Philo is a series of sharing sessions revolving around the discussion of philosophies and humanities. First presented in April 2017 and active for 5 consecutive years and counting, Tea Philo has invited more than 40 luminaries from Taiwan to share experiences in their respective arts and industries and engage in meaningful exchanges of ideas with the local audiences.
The latest Tea Philo E-Talk involves Mr. Huang Chih-Chun, the Artistic Director of U-Theatre. Huang has been a dancer and drumming and martial arts practitioner for over 30 years. He is known for leading the members alongside founder Liu Ruo-yu and shaping U-Theatre—its vision, practices, and works—into what it is today. The E-Talk titled “The Heart of U-Theatre: Huang Chih-Chun on Art and Creativity” was broadcast live on Tea Philo’s Facebook Page on 15th May 2021 and has attracted 3600 unique views.
To start off the talk, Huang took us back to the origin of arts: Wu (巫, Chinese Shamans) and rituals. He explained how art has always been about life and living, beliefs, philosophies, and the conveyance of truths and human realities. “Some describe the trance experiences Wu and artists may have during their creative process as if they have entered a half-conscious or unconscious state, that they become merely a vessel for their arts,” Huang said, “but to me, they are actually in a highly conscious state where they are able to access all senses and observe all that is happening at the moment.” Huang states that this state of being highly conscious, highly mindful in every step we take and everything we do is how art is and ought to be made.
Huang quoted Russian philosopher George IvanovichGurdjieff’s statement on “the two different kinds of arts”, Subjective Art and Objective Art: “[Subjective art] is simply mechanical reproduction, imitation of nature or other people, or simply fantasy, or an attempt to be original. In [Objective Art] there is nothing accidental. It is mathematics. Everything in it can be calculated, everything can be known beforehand. The artist knows and understands what he wants to convey and his work cannot produce one impression on one man and another impression on another. It will always, and with mathematical certainty, produce one and the same impression.” Huang mentioned that he was shocked and deeply fascinated with this ideal and has since strived to create objective arts like these.
Huang said, “Artists should train in two aspects. They ought to train themselves to master the technicalities of their arts; and at the same time, train his mind, his consciousness to have a stronger connection to their Tao (道), no matter if it is philosophical, religious, or simply a way of living.” He mentioned that at U-Theatre, it is a ritual for members to meditate before each drumming or dancing rehearsal session. This is both to help members focus and to help them find connection with their inner self. Huang emphasizes that when balance and connection are established between these two aspects, one is truly “living in the moment” and can enter the highly conscious state, where the outer world and the inner world become one, and clarity is born.
Huang stated that by synthesizing multiple forms of arts, including dance, music, theatre, and literature, U-Theatre aims to create works of arts that represents “the unity of Tao and Art”. He encourages artists to take the path of making Objective Arts, and to create works that not only speak about the truths of our contemporary world, but also honour what we inherit from a long line of traditions, and have the ability to go beyond their time and space to create meanings.
“Let’s be highly conscious in life and in art, in every step we take. Focus wholly on the one step at this moment. Let’s move, literally, one step at a time.”