Yuen Hsieh is a filmmaker based in London and Taipei. During his studies at the Royal College of Art, Hsieh’s films reflect self experiences, storytelling with a nod to sci-fi. Hsieh aims to challenge viewers to consider current environments and technologies. Hsieh has filmed projects in Kenya, Iceland, the Czech Republic and Tokyo and since 2010, has exhibited his artistic works in London, Berlin, Monaco, Beijing and Taipei. Hsieh has created commissioned video advertisements for the likes of London Design Biennale, SAMSUNG and CHANEL. He is now the founder of Yuen Hsieh Studio and works worldwide for various types of projects.
Have you always wanted to become a film maker? How did this passion for film and image start to take shape?
I was actually working on art installation when I was in Central Saint Martins. For example: I was interested in how machines communicate with each other by electromagnetic waves. As a result I worked with a engineer who designed a device which could listen to electromagnetic waves sent by machines. You could make a piece of music by listening to different kinds of machines. At the time, video was just for recording my project or performance. After a while I started to write my own story and made a short film called BODY COPYRIGHT when I graduated from Royal College of Art.
When I look at your work you did for Xiu Long, I must say it’s breathtaking. What was your inspiration there?
Xiu Long is a journey of Taiwan’s culture collisions.
Xiu Long responds to the theme of the inaugural London Design Biennale, Utopia by Design, by presenting an imagined future through a culinary journey. Reflecting on the history of Taiwan, the dishes serve as reminders that cultural collision and fusion have been and will continue to be powerful forces that push the country towards a united yet diverse utopia.
[ Xiu Long ] pronunciation of “collide” / “collision” in Taiwanese Hokkien language.
The story structure weaves 5 different groups of people together to create one whole.
“Indigenous Taiwanese” : Inhabiting mountains or living beside the seas, the aborigines have strongly held their own unique religions, ways of survival, and value systems. They are one with nature.
“Mins & Hakkas”: In order to make a living easier by touring dragon & lion dance extravaganza, this nomadic group own private fleet vehicles. They are involved in illegal organisations from time to time, but always try to deal with life in their own way and defend their people and culture.
“Taiwanese Locals”：This group builds their residential communities around marketplaces, where folks regularly trade and meet everyday. A marketplace is more or less like a museum presenting local life. Since many vendors’ sons and daughters take over parents’ small business as inheritance, the marketplace is now gradually led by a younger generation with newer vision.
“Chinese & Japanese”: People in this group are born to be witty gamblers who certainly know how to manage all sorts of tricks and cheats. Their various faces make them easily fit into any situation in the society but on the other hand, they can be comparatively heartless if they’re offered to be.
“New Residents”: Because living in a foreign country is always at someone’s service, these new residents have acquired new skills of destruction and reconstruction. Somehow they become one of the pillars of the Taiwanese economic system by rebuilding their own underground society, martial arts centres, restaurants and malls. With their cultural dedication boosted, there are more and more new impacts and possibilities happening in Taiwan.
One day these five disparate groups of people join together for one mission that unites them…
Has your Taiwanese background shaped the way you view things and they way you work? What else influences you?
Taiwan is a rough and dynamic country but mixed with Japanese neat culture. For me living in Taiwan is full of culture collisions. I like the neon light on the street and it is full of random stickers or signs everywhere.There are some stickers which are a call out to chat with a stranger or for a secret job offer.To me those elements are quite real and cool to interpret, raw and young spirits to represent Taiwan.
I know you are working on a Chanel project. Can you reveal a bit about it? What can we expect?
This project is called ” First time memories pawnshop” a fiction short based on a pawnshop which you could sell your first memories of your own item. It is a work following up from Xiu Long and it will feature some of the characters from it. It is my vision of Taiwan in the near future. From my previous project, which is called “Internet Phenomenon Production Company”. Internet Phenomenon Production Company ” by Shiya Enterprise. It’s said that once you sign up for membership and prepay the annual fee, the company will customise a celeb-like virtual life for you by teaming up with a professional director, stylist, agent, and marketing company.This time for this CHANEL project will reveal some secrets from the silhouette of Shiya Enterprise.
Your work with colour is unique. Would you ever work in black and white though? Why or why not?
I will try black and white when it is necessary for black and white.Color for me is to support the story and shape the world or character you create.
Is there a movie director or photographer you would love to work with (dead or alive)?
Christopher Nolan , Charlie Brooker , Park Chan-wook