This video is the last video work out of the three that are a part of Annette An-Jen Liu's graduate work "Reconsidering Time in the Ritual of the Joss Paper (2018)", a research project that investigates the cultural practice of burning joss paper as an intangible cultural heritage informing aspects of Taiwanese identity.
The three video works are screen recordings created from collecting Taiwanese media reports of the last decade on the ritual. In this controlled digital format, Liu juxtaposes several videos on one plane to showcase complex interrelations between the reports, highlighted by the deliberate yet clumsy resizing of various footage at different times. As all the reports play at once and are on loop when displayed, they are no longer fully legible, but instead highlight the chaotic, contradictory and often sensationalised tones of the reports. The video work ultimately also considers the challenges of navigating tradition in a digital space.
The collection of Taiwanese media reports offers various ongoing discourses and debates surrounding the practice with their social commentaries either encouraging the public ritual as an important part of tradition or critiquing and evaluating its place in contemporary society. This last group focuses on the ongoing traditional production of joss paper in the south of Taiwan. It is a prideful industry passed down through generations with their handmade methods, their rebellious history against Japanese colonial rule that banned joss paper production, and now, their competition against cheaper, faster joss paper from Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturers. This import of joss paper raises issues of "fake" joss paper and integrity to the deities with paper that are not properly hand-stamped or hand-glued with sheets of foil but are instead printed digitally or have plastic on them.