3 channel video

6 October, 2018


The Castle
Duration: 9’45”


Hsu Chia-Wei

Title: Spirit-writing

Medium: 3 channel video

Duration: 9’45”

Courtesy: The Artist

Year: 2016


Video installation “Spirit-Writing” presents an unusual dialogue between artist Chia-Wei Hsu and the frog god Marshal Tie Jia who, allegedly, was born in a small pond more than 1,400 years ago in Jiangxi, China. It is said that his temple in the Wuyi Mountains was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, so he has since been taking shelter on Matsu Island.


The local villagers communicate with Marshal Tie Jia through a unique divination chair ritual, during which, the divination chair shakes violently under divine orders and proceeds to hit against the altar table and write down commands decreed by the divine power. Sometimes, legible words are written down, but there are also times when the writing needs to be deciphered through further gestures of pounding or making of noises. The villagers use this ritual to help them make decisions on many things in life.  


Marshal Tie-Jia was invited by Chia-Wei Hsu to come to a film studio, where the divination chair ritual was performed to ask the frog god about the original conditions of his temple in the Wuyi Mountains. Hsu also reported to the Marshal about the approach and concept behind this art project. The process was made into a documentary, with an animation presented at the same time.


Motion capture technology was applied in the film studio to document the movements of the divination char which was post-produced into a 3D animation. A 3D temple is also constructed according to the fragmented clues provided by Marshal Tia-Jia. This two-channel video installation showcases the dialogue between the artist and the frog god, integrating contemporary art and folk belief, the digital world and the realm of the divine.