The Returning (silent dialogue) 《重回记 -沉静的对话》

The Returning (silent dialogue) by Liew Ting Chuang @ TC Liew

An audience interactive public installation project as part of 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism “Sparkles In Penang”
by Tuanku Fauziah Museum & Gallery (MGTF), Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Medium: white antique chair assemblage with broken woods, ropes and string
Collection: MGTF fine art collection (on loan)
Location: Permatang Pelajar (Student Square) of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.


《重回记 -沉静的对话》
刘挺壮 互动艺术装置计划暨
一个大马当代艺术旅游展之 “灿烂槟城”



Story about White-wooden-chair:

White-wooden-chair dreams to be tree again

A 50 years old wooden chair originally was in black but now it prefer in white colour. It likes to be call as “White-wooden-chair”. It feels lonely in the studio that surrounded by four white panel walls. The White-wooden-chair wishes to return to Mother Nature. It misses the experience being as tree as like in the past decades. Recently White-wooden-chair has grown roots, as the attempt to penetrate cement floor of the studio. It has a strong desire to feel the soil. It chooses to grow root at Permatang Pelajar, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Within a night White-wooden-chair penetrates through red bricks; absorb water and minerals from soil to grow root. Unfortunately White-wooden-chair is still unable to become a tree. With a strong belief and being obsessive, White-wooden-chair manifests its wish in dreamscape. Therefore the shape of tree only sees in shadow form.

Silent dialogue with nature

After few days at Permatang Pelajar, White-wooden-chair is making friends from the nature. They are the Busy-ants, Trendy-mosquitoes, Cheerful-birds, Dry-leaves, Rain-drops, Dry-branches, Reflected-shadow, Growing-trees and Blowing-wind. Even though White-wooden-chair unable to transform and become a tree but it is living like a tree again for the time being. They like to make discussion about the surrounding of campus. Among the topics they discussed is the reaction of USM folk on sustainable development issue, the drivers’ manner in USM campus, student daily activities at Permatang Pelajar and enforcement of the White Coffin campaign. Unfortunately, they are unable to disseminate because lack of the voices from the members of society.

Expanding the friendship

White-wooden-chair wishes to expand his friendship so that it can meet more friends. It wishes to invite all the members from different layers of society to pay a visit. It wishes to make dialogue among the visitors. It is an effort to share the thought from their silent dialogues to the public. The White-wooden-chair hope public listen to the members of nature. The silent voices from them; how are Busy-ants work, why do Trendy-mosquitoes drink bloods, how do Cheerful-birds sing, where are Dry-leaves flow, how fast do the Rain-drops fall, when are Dry-branches fall, when is Reflected-shadow appear, how long do the Growing-trees live and how strong does the Blowing-wind flow. The sharing is proposed to make so that the public will learn more about the White-wooden-chair.
Let’s us listen to the silent dialogue among the members of nature. On the other hand helps the members of nature and White-wooden-chair quest their curiosities. You are invited to join the nature fest.

TC Liew September 2010, USM.










刘挺壮 二零一零年 理科大学 启

Conceptual review

The Returning (silent dialogue) is refer to the artist’s returning. That is refer to the place that he is born and the campus that he is trained as an artist. Last 14 months, TC is produced series of installation artworks entitled Meeting the South (2009) in Artist-in-residence programme organised by Iskandar Malaysia Contemporary Art Show (IMCAS) 2009. And his Re-visiting Ah Kong in Memories (2009) is selected as finalist in Singapore Art Show 2009, exhibited at Singapore Art Museum. Both are his reflection of experiences in Southern Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. TC always sensitive to the environment he is stayed. Therefore manifestation of Meeting the South (2009) depicts his uncomfortable experiences in Johor Bharu where his studio located inside a commercial complex. He is exposed to the centre of commercial activities and materialism world. Re-visiting Ah Kong in Memories (2009) is the reflection of his loneliness in the foreign land.

TC is worked on an antique chair which was originally black in colour. When TC brought it back to Penang, he aggressively turns the chair into white. He believe that white is his rejuvenation treatment for his sickness from engaging modern society in Southern regional. He prefers to stay in friendly environment. The chair is almost 90 – 100% high key value compliment with few 70 – 80% low key marks. Those are made by hatching marks and staining strokes, composed cyclically on the wooden seat. The values reflect artist positive expression. Meanwhile the cyclical composition suggests capillary wave force symbolise the “returning” on the wooden seat. TC expresses his obsessive manner to break the chair leg. Again he made assemblage with the broken leg and found broken woods. The intention depicted the grown of root on particular chair leg. Even though violent and aggressive but TC made it in careful manner.

Chair commonly interpret as symbol of power in western and eastern tradition. TC interprets it with unique thought. The chair is a present from his late grandfather. The interpretation of this chair is more humanised and with the sense of belonging. He has habit of collecting unique junks or artefacts. This showed his fetishism manner because he believes that collecting and retouching process able to rejuvenate his emotional sick. He treats the chair like a living creature, where it has dream, thought and making dialogue. TC treats the chair like him; the returning of wooden chair metaphor TC’s returning to hometown.

In the bigger picture, The Returning (silent dialogue) creates awareness of sustainability development concept. It aligns to the USM transformation manifesto even. TC chose Permatang Pelajar as installation site because he notices that most of the students pass by, especially in the morning, afternoon and evening section. Therefore, the installation is design to engage with the public. Through “Passive interactivity” TC invites the audiences to engage physically with the installation. Passive interactivity potentially creates simulacra that catalysts appreciation of nature. It makes audiences observe the beautifulness of Mother Nature. In directly, The Returning (silent dialogue) encourage the members of USM comprehend sustainable development concept so that we will grow together with the “members of nature”.

About the artist:

Currently Liew Ting Chuang @ TC Liew is persuading his Master of Arts (Visual Art & Design) at School of Arts USM. He is exploring the concept of non-digital interactivity in his art-making. He lectured at School of Art and Design, Southern College for approximately a year; collecting research materials while waiting for the approval for his MA proposal. He won few awards such as IMCAS 2009 Artist-in-residence, finalist in Singapore Art Show 2009, 1st Prize in Penang Young Contemporary Artist Competition 2007, major awards in Tanjong Heritage Art Competition yearly (2006-2008) and finalist in The World Biennial Exhibition of Photography 2007. Several pieces of his artworks are in the USM fine art collections.


Reflection of Life

(download able CNY desktop wallpaper)


Artist in Aquarium - Meeting The South

photography documentation by: Chew Win Win

click here to see viewer interpretation. INSPIRING ART

This is the result showcase of TC Liew’s artworks during 3 months IMCAS artist residency program. TC was working in aquarium-like studio, where there had glass partition separate him from the audiences. An audience’s participation art program is designed. TC drew participants’ portraits while they were making marks on pre-printed portraits. After the interaction, participant brought back a copy of drawn-portrait by TC Liew. He was meeting Johorian daily in his provided studio in Danga City Mall. Collected portraits and audiences’ respond sheets considered his collaboration artwork with 43 participants, titled Meeting the South #1. If you observed the interaction through the glass partition, it seems like TC Liew’s performance art. TC performed as an “artist” and participant perform as “Johorian”. Both made dialogue-through-drawings. Meeting the South #1 is considered as documentation of 2 months “performance” in Johor Bahru. And Meeting the South #2 is collection of portrait drawing on paper bags. Throughout this interaction with Johorian, TC was inspired. He decided to “re-look” himself in this foreign land. He is trying to achieve balance “on” his life. (He is still working on it)

TC manages to produce 21 artworks (small artworks) including the installation of this room, titled Artist-in-aquarium. Again, TC’s new series of artworks are cross-media. It includes 6 pieces of drawings, 4 sets of photograph (1 set of collaborative photography work with Johor artist, Chris Wong), 2 sets of installation and 8 pieces of “expanded media” artwork. He installed 7 light-bulbs represent 7 energy points, so called Chakra system. These light sources “enlighten” him in the dark. Every process of the art-making is considered as his self-discovery in this foreign land. The showcase is a mapping of his artworks according to his mind condition. Therefore, he designed specific installation for every piece of his artworks. He believes that, left-brain working intentionally and the right-brain working intuitionally. Basically, conceptual works installed on the left, so emotional works on the right. The artworks contain both elements installed in the middle of the room. With asymmetrical balance as basic composition of the installation, it shows the hierarchy of the 7 Chakra points.

TC Liew responded his experiences being “in-the-making artist” in this popular culture and capitalism spot. All the materials he used are ready-made manufactured goods and some are junks from waste depot. Again his artworks reflects social environ that is surrounded him. (He was working in the shopping mall for last 3 months)

“I always believe that civilization is the catalyst to art production; I keep on imitating, experiencing, comprehending and reinventing.” TC said.