Madeleine Moment: The Technology of Memory and Sentiment

Text  by Amy Cheng (Curator)

Madeleine Moment: The Technology of Memory and Sentiment (hereafter referred to as Madeleine Moment) is a research based curatorial project that TheCube Project Space (hereafter referred to as TheCube) has undertaken since 2022. Madeleine Moment proceeds in three phases over a two-year period. The first phase comprised a series of thematic forums with a star-studded lineup of lecturers who outlined multi-dimensional thinking approaches from different perspectives such as medicine, philosophy, humanities, arts, and history of technology. At the end of 2022, TheCube staged the four-day Sonic ShamanTheCube Forum Music Festival underpinned by performance and sound experiences. Launched in 2023, the third phase presents an eponymous international exhibition featuring nine artists from Taiwan and abroad.

     In order to expand the heterogeneous art experiences for the viewers and the participants, Madeleine Moment is to be held at three venues in Taipei and Taichung for five consecutive months in a strip format. Part I of the exhibition opens on May 27 at TheCube, showing the long-term project by Huang Po-Chih. Part II, on view from July 3 at the Vital Space in Taichung, presents five artists including Tarek Atoui, Chiu Ming-Chin, Jao Chia-En, Lee Kit, and Heidi Voet. Part III are shown at the Hong Foundation in August, featuring the works by Hung Tzu-Ni, Lai Chih-Sheng.

     The title and the conception of Madeleine Moment make a direct allusion to À la recherche du temps perdu, a masterpiece of stream of consciousness by Marcel Proust. In this novel, the taste of a madeleine dipped in black tea evokes not only the protagonist’s deep awareness, but also his memories and sentiments that do not emerge through rational “recalling” in his daily life. Based on this story, psychologists had already coined the term “Proust Moment” or “Proust Effect” to describe the process of such involuntary evocation of memories and sentiments. It is noteworthy that the fashionableness of the shell-shaped cake had much to do with the prevalence of metal baking molds and the growing popularity of cookbooks in Europe (roughly between the 18th and 19th centuries). The theme and the conception of Madeleine Moment appropriate the “Proust Moment” and shift the focus from the aspect of a perceiving subject back onto the “media (objects)” that evoke memories and sentiments.

     Therefore, Madeleine Moment seeks to penetrate into the “Proust Effect,” insofar as to reveal that the implantation and representation of memories as well as the emergence and transmission of sentiments are bound up with the hidden “invokum/operations of perception.” It is probably thanks to the collective empathy developed through the madeleine that the famous plot in À la recherche du temps perdu has many resonances for the readers in different places and times. From the perspective of medium/technology, the intermediary of “mold-based baking” and “printing” affords the rapid and massive production of this dessert in similar shape and taste wherever it is, which makes it a source of power for “perceptual transmission” in the modern world. It on the one hand creates private experiences for individuals, and on the other hand forges collective cognition about things for a generation. Recognizable though, the role of medium/technology therein is often concealed and ignored. Treating this thread of thinking as the point of departure, Madeleine Moment explores the technology and the politics of the construction of contemporary perception and identity.

     Through assembling/composing sound media and technical objects, Tarek Atoui, the artist from Lebanon, creates not only a listening “time scale” that the viewers may (un)consciously perceive, but also an “iterated relationship” between this “sense of time” and the rhythm and sound in memories. Lee Kit from Hong Kong tends to outline the subtle perceptual apertures in the time and space through the transformation between the immateriality and materiality of images and sounds, thereby reshuffling the viewers’ understanding with an approach of quasi-defamiliarization. Heidi Voet from Belgium uses cheap or conventional tourist souvenirs and the cultural visual images they represented as the modules for reproduction, and holds workshops that encourage the participants to reinterpret/translate the results of the “previous” reproduction. The transmission of each “reproduction” of these “cultural products” thus begins to be transmuted and recreated by the subject-object interplay.

     Among the participating Taiwanese artists, employing the well-known modern industrial product “Dulux Paints” and its color matching system, and through de-constructing and re-constructing the archival images of the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition from Radauer’s collection, Jao Chia-En attempts to unveil the formation of imagination and memory about the other and the foreign lands as well as the derivative perceptual cognition system embedded in the colonialist ideology. Huang Po-Chih looks at the encounter between individual experience and collective destiny within contemporary capitalism from the ups and downs of labor force and market in Taiwan, Shenzhen, Seoul, and Hong Kong. Hung Tzu-Ni leads the viewers to feel the tensions between the body movement and the ambience via the guidance of her exquisite sound design and installations. Breaking the stereotype, Lai Chih-Sheng adopts the technique of “gentle subversion” to open up an ambiguous and hetero-dimension interlaced by the virtual and the real. Furthermore, this exhibition specifically invites Chiu Ming-Chin, a vintage phonograph collector and a shellac-disc reproduction specialist in Tainan, to display his superb collection of classic phonographs and shellac records, together with his sui generis technique for shellac disc reproduction, which serves as the very inspiration behind the content and conception of the entire exhibition.     

     To materialize Madeleine Moment, TheCube is deeply honored to collaborate with Live Forever Foundation at the Vital Space in Taichung, as well as with Hong Foundation in presenting the productions by the abovementioned artists in Taipei.

Artist|Tarek Atoui, Chiu Ming-Chin, Huang Po-Chih, Hung Tzu-Ni, Jao Chia-En, Lai Chih-Sheng, Lee Kit, Heidi Voet

Curator|Amy Cheng
Curatorial Team|Jeph Lo, Ileana Tu, Wang ChiaYing



Part I
Artist|Huang Po-Chih
Venue|TheCube Project Space
Opening|2023.05.27, 3-6 pm

Part II
Artist|Tarek Atoui, Chiu Ming-Chin, Jao Chia-En, Lee Kit, Heidi Voet
Venue|Vital Space

Part III
Artist|Hung Tzu-Ni, and Lai Chih-Sheng
Venue|Hong Foundation
Opening|2023.08.12, 3-6 pm


Organizer|TheCube Project Space
Co-organizer in Taichung|Live Forever Foundation, TheCube Project Space
Collaborator in Taipei|Hong Foundation
Exhibition Sponsor|National Culture and Arts Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei City Government, Live Forever Foundation, AUSPIC PAPER
Supporting Partners|Hong Foundation
Special Thanks|Rudy Tseng, Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts, Digital Art Center, Taipei

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