Liang Ting Yu: Firearms, Skulls & Bones
The video work Firearms, Skulls, and Bones reexamines colonial images in an attempt to break free from the visual language and textual descriptions of the colonisers and return to a more life-centered and affective reading approach. The project departs from the deplorable act of Japanese anthropologists Mori Ushinosuke and Torii Ryūzō, who stole bones from Taiwan’s indigenous tribes in the 1900s. It connects their bone-collecting fetish and their barbarisation of indigenous headhunting practices through image manipulation, using close-ups of indigenous skulls obtained by Japanese troops in their mountain warfare against the tribes during the colonial period (1895–1945). Looking into the process of obtaining, transporting, measuring, archiving and specimenising skulls and bones, which served as a ‘production line’ for Japanese research into Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, the project rethinks the connections between militaristic governance and the production of anthropological knowledge.