What would it be like to touch light? Aka Chang has a better idea than most. The Taipei-based light artist, whose given name is Chang Fangyu, uses lasers, projectors, and computer code to create planes of color, deconstruct rooms, and sculpt shapes out of thin air. He collaborates with musicians, DJs, and performance artists to bring his art to life.
Chang got his start as a VJ while studying fashion design in college. At first, he simply stitched together animation and film clips, which he would make move to the sound of the beat. “The style was like ’90s MTV videos,” he laughs. “Today it might seem old school, but in 2005 there weren’t many VJs in Taiwan.”
在大学修读服装设计时，Aka Chang 就成为了一名 VJ（“影像骑师”，即搭配音乐来播放画面者）。起初，他只是简单拼接动画和电影短片，按照音乐节拍剪辑影片。“那些作品的风格很像 90 年代的 MTV 视频。现在看来比较 old school，但在 2005 年的时候，台湾做 VJ 的人还很少。” 他笑着说道。
These interests led him to start a VJ group called Muse Whisper, which operated together for about 10 years. He was also part of MWVA, an audiovisual arts group with a fluctuating roster of members. These collaborative projects allowed him to build confidence and explore his ideas as he learned. “In some ways I’m very shy, and for years I was troubled by depression. Art gave me the freedom to find a way to believe in myself.” As he grew more skilled and self-assured, he began to step out from the shadows and reveal himself as a performer, working under his current stage name.
兴趣使然的他成立了一个 VJ 团队，取名 Muse Whisper，团队一起创作了大约 10 年时间。另外，他还是 MWVA 的成员之一，这是一个视听艺术团体，成员流动性比较大。这些合作项目让他树立了信心，不断去探索自己的创意想法。“在某些方面，我比较害羞，而且多年来深受抑郁症的困扰。是艺术给了我自由，让我重拾自信。”渐渐地，他逐渐从阴霾中走出来，并以现在的艺名成为了一名表演艺术家。
A recent project took place at Taipei’s most prominent underground dance music club Final. Using lasers, roving stage lights, and LEDs trained on smoke and walls, Chang sent shards of light in geometric patterns over the dance floor, seemingly changing the shape of the room. The lights hung mid-air, fluttering with the beat. The installation was created for a party thrown by the rave organizers Pure G.
Light art often finds a home in clubs, and Chang has worked on similar projects turning familiar spaces into new worlds. Last year, he used 190 red laser beams to weave a glowing net that hovered five meters above the dancing crowd. Called Empty Universe, it featured Pure G DJs performing on stage, fitted in all-white and covered in masks by designer Kayn Ken Chen, while Chang conducted his orchestra of blazing red light.
Aka Chang 最近的一个项目是在台北著名地下舞蹈音乐俱乐部 Final 的表演。他使用激光器、闪烁的舞台灯光，以及映射到烟雾和墙壁上的 LED 灯光，在舞池中投射出几何图案的光线碎片，看上去似乎改变了整个空间的形状。悬挂半空的灯光，随音乐节奏摇摆，这是他为锐舞派对主办方 Pure G 而打造的艺术装置。
灯光艺术多见于俱乐部，Aka Chang 之前也做过一些类似的项目，用灯光将人们熟悉的空间改头换面。去年，他在舞池观众上方 5 米的空中，用 190 支红色激光束编织了一个光亮的网，作品取名《Empty Universe》（虚空），搭配上场地方 DJ 们的音乐与 Kayn Ken Chen 设计的全白服饰与口罩，Aka Chang 则负责操控耀眼的红色光束。
The link between light art and music is natural. A more intimate example of this symbiotic relationship is Chang’s June Orbs project. It’s a traveling collaboration with musician Jez Fang, a pioneer in Taiwanese experimental electronic music from the group KbN. The pair sit facing each other on a stage built from interlocking plastic boxes, surrounded by four obelisks, each projecting light from its peak. “Usually we work together by jamming,” Change explains. “He’ll throw out some sounds, and I’ll try to start developing some visuals, so the sound and visuals grow organically.”
Chang relies primarily on TouchDesigner to create his visuals, which is plugged into Fang’s Ableton controls, so some knobs that control the music will also affect the light, making both wobble or expand together, for example. Although the sphere seems to float in the air in three dimensions, it’s actually projected onto the wall behind them.
灯光艺术与音乐之间天然有着紧密的联系，这种相互依存的关系在 Aka Chang 名为《June Orbs》的作品中尤其突出。这是他与音乐人 Jez Fang 合作的一个巡演项目。Jez Fang 是 KbN 乐团成员之一，是台湾实验电子音乐的先驱。表演时，他们两人面对面，坐在一个由互扣塑料盒搭建的舞台上，四个方尖碑将他们包围其中，从顶部投射出光线。Aka Chang 说：“我们通常都是即兴演奏。在他给出一些音乐后，我就尝试根据制作出视觉效果，所以两者都是以一种即兴的方式展开的。”
Aka Chang 主要运用 TouchDesigner 来创造视觉效果，他将其连接到 Jez 的 Ableton 控制器中，这样一些控制音乐的按钮也能用来调整光线，譬如可以使得光线随音乐一起摆动或扩散。虽然看上去像是一个漂浮在空气中的立体光球，但实际上光线只是投射到他们身后的墙上。
Chang works with stage performers too, blending with their choreography, accentuating the movement of their bodies, and elevating the mood and meaning of their work. Last November he participated in the Kuan Du Light Art Festival, which took over Taipei Art University’s swimming center. As dancers and actors appeared to walk on the surface of the dark water, Chang sent blasts of fluorescent lasers, transforming them into stark silhouettes, drawing paths to the heavens, and opening doors that seemed to lead to alternate worlds.
Aka Chang 也会与舞台演员合作，结合他们的编舞，用光线突显舞者的身体动作，营造氛围，传达作品的涵义。去年十一月，他参加了在台北艺术大学游泳中心举办的关渡光艺术节。当舞者和演员行走在黑暗的水面上，Aka Chang 用荧亮的激光将他们变成鲜明的轮廓，勾勒出一条迈向天堂的道路，打开了通向异世界的大门。
“In one part, an astronaut stood in the center of the pool while beams from four corners baptized and shot through him, like a symbol of energy transferral and intensification,” Chang explains. “A laser beam fell onto the water, reflecting a surface of light, like an image of a rift in space and time. Finally, four beams drew a cross in the pool, like a path guiding the astronaut ashore. All the scenes have a futuristic, high-tech feel, but they create a richly philosophical and poetic relationship between pure light and people and space.”
“Laser light is very strong, very extreme, and once it appears no one can look away,” Chang says. “At the same time, the surface of the light that appears in the air is so delicate, so beautiful.”
“在其中一个部分，一位宇航员站在水池中心，四面八方的光束将他包围起来，并穿透他，这是在象征能量的转移和凝聚。”Aka Chang 解释道，“一束激光投射到水中，映照出光亮的表面，看上去像是时空的裂痕。最后，四支光束在池中勾勒出一个十字架，仿佛是在指引宇航员走上岸。所有场景充满前卫的未来感和科技感，同时营造出光线、人与空间之间的深刻哲理和诗意关系。”