Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sow-Yee Au now lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. She holds a master’s degree in filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and another master’s degree in new media art from the Taipei National University of the Arts. She specializes in mixed formats of video, conceptual art, installation and creates artworks that explore and extend from images and the production of images, as well as the connections between history, politics, and power. She was shortlisted for Han Nefkens Foundation’s Loop Barcelona Video Art Award in 2018; the Asia Pacific Breweries Signature Art Prize in 2018; and the 18th and 14th Taishin Arts Award. Sow-Yee Au was the recipient of Honorable Mention in 2021 Taipei Arts Award.
She has shown her artworks in 2021 Busan Biennale We, on the Rising Wave, Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2017); 2 or 3 Tigers at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW, 2017); Asian Film and Video Art Forum at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, 2017); Condition Report: Mode of Liaisons at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC, 2017); Taipei Biennial 2018: Post-Nature—A Museum as an Ecosystem; and One Song and the Boat at the Times Museum, Guangzhou (2021-2022). Her artworks are collected by international institutions, including the Singapore Art Museum and Japan’s Aura Contemporary Art Foundation. Sow-Yee was the co-founder and co-curator for KLEX (Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival) in 2010, 2011 and 2016. She is also a guest writer for online magazine No Man’s Land and co-founded Kuala Lumpur’s Rumah Attap Library and Collective in 2017.
How to Become a Ghost
Au Sow-Yee X Chen Yow-Ruu X KonFuFighting / 420Hz Standard Bureau
Duration: 30 minutes
Forms: live body, sound and image, not that lecture performance
As the French Revolution spread in the late 18th century, Belgium physicist and the great entertainer Etienne-Gaspard Robert (also known as Robertson) delivered the first phantasmagoria in the history of moving image in Paris. Phantasmagoria, as defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary, refers to “a confused group of real or imagined images that change quickly, on following the other as in a dream.” The phantasmagoria delivered by Robertson beckoned, inviting the viewers to enter a smoky, ghostly space where skulls, ghosts, and iconic figures died in the French Revolution come from all directions in the company of rallying cry, snickering and thunder. This should be the largest phantom-imaging and sound-making technique in scale since the invention of the “magic lantern.”
The phantom of history seems to presuppose the transcendental existence of apparition in the physical world. It is visible and audible yet intangible. In this sense, songs and vocals share the phantom status. Of all the memory and affective techniques, they are the most penetrative. Employing the phantom-imaging and sound-making technique, How to Become a Ghost features the process of becoming a ghost or three here and now, hence a phantasmagoria perhaps enchanted by contemporary technology.