Bodyless is an interactive VR work created in the style of Surrealism. Hsin-Chien Huang begins with his family memory to depict Taiwan under Martial Law and how the humanity of a society is reduced to a collective identified and evaluated by its leadership.
Despite referring to a period that has long passed, the work sheds light on the similar cycle of authoritarianism present with the rise of digital technology. The government has used new technologies such as digital surveillance, big data, and artificial intelligence to monitor its people. National policies are announced by powerful world leaders through tweets that are under 140 characters long, civilians are simplified into pixels on a screen, drones are given powers to determine and judge targets that are to be killed, and actual lives and people identified and tagged as terrorists have become targets and numbers are that are to be exterminated.
In Bodyless, the Martial Law of the past merges with current digital technologies and becomes the oppressive culprit that causes opposition between people’s lives and beliefs. An elderly political prisoner dies alone during a secret government experiment, and audiences experience the journey through the eyes of the older man. The elder’s soul descends into the underworld after death. This corresponds to Taiwanese folk beliefs in which the gates to hell open during the Lunar Ghost Month, and the deceased are allowed to return to the world of the living to visit their families. The viewer’s first perspective matches that of the elderly, manifesting the quintessentially Taiwanese spiritual world interwoven with folk belief and nature.