Behind the shutter: disappearance and the postcolonial body in early Sinophone media art

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper analyses how time-based media practices in Taiwan and Hong Kong initially emerged to preserve traces of the disappearing and the already invisible. This phenomenon is intrinsically related to the elusiveness of the colonial subject due to the complex postcolonial conditions in the region. What became the subject for the camera was already disappearing as it was being caught, a situation conditioned by shifting cultural and political identities. Not only is the local subject hard to see, it keeps adjusting in response to different authoritarian powers. My thesis is that early intermedia art works, particularly in their way of reflecting cultural discourses, are formed with an understanding of the impossibility of catching the present moment. As the shutter itself is an imperialist convention, particularly at the margin of the Sinosphere, the artists employ their bodies and performative methods to dissolve the monolithic power of the camera. In addition, early experimental theater provides anti-institutional contexts for intermedia experiments, which also offered technical support and avant-garde networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-200
Number of pages24
JournalWorld Art
Issue number2
Early online date17 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • intermedia
  • video
  • performance
  • imperial shutter
  • art in Hong Kong
  • art in Taiwan
  • Zuni icosahedron


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