Ivan Liu - Between Universes: The Past is My Present to Your Future

21 August - 30 October 2014
Ivan Liu - Between Universes: The Past is My Present to Your Future

Ivan Liu's residency at iMAL

Love is a basic element of human relationship. It is what binds the family and, arguably, the human society together. We often wonder how love comes about in our lives, and how it subsides. Filled with countless number of questions in mind, in the end we accept the reality regardless. Perhaps it is the inherent mystery of human consciousness that gives rise to the unsolvable origin of love and un-love.

In this work, new media and technology artist Ivan C. H. Liu explores the notion that love is so profound that it changes the world for a person in love or losing love. In collaboration with dancer/choreographer Julie Magneville, they combine the body movements, the theater and interactive installations together to experiment a new way of storytelling.

The design of the installation consists of a wearable electronic system that manifests the relationship between the body, the consciousness and the world, and the interactions with the heartbeat and the brainwave are used to strengthen this notion. 

The choice of objects and materials used in this work originates largely from the artist’s experience and perspective of his surrounding while living in Brussels. 

This work continues the notion of his previous work that, the universe is constructed on top of human consciousness. Therefore, a few elements always exist in this series, including a human figure or a mannequin to represent the conscious being, and wires connecting this figure to the installation to represent, in some sense, the neuron networks. The installation itself would also reflect certain aspects of the world around us. 

Liu discovered that the Belgians love second-hand and vintage objects. In Brussels, one can find second-hand book stores, furniture stores and markets everywhere. And the DIY culture is also deeply rooted here. Making one’s own furniture is a common thing. As the local saying goes: “Every Belgian is born with a brick in the stomach”, which just shows how strongly recognized this tradition is.

Inspired by this local tradition, the artist collected used wooden grates from a produce market nearby, and combined them with LED lights to make an installation. The lighting is dynamic, controlled by electronic system and programs built by the artist himself. He incorporates a brainwave sensor so that the performer can control the color of the lights by her brainwave. A heartbeat sensor is also used to control a lighting device and an electro-mechanical sound device to produce an on-the-fly audio-visual effect of the performer’s heartbeat.

The performance and exhibition will present the results of this 2.5 months residency of Ivan at iMAL and its collaboration with Julie.

Technical Description

A brainwave sensor (here a Mindwave Mobile from Neurosky) is used to detect the alpha and beta waves from the dancer which drive an Arduino program to control LED lights. The LED lights change color in response to the level of concentration or meditation. Additional chips were used to control a large number of LED channels. The dancer's hearbeat is fed into a sound device using 70 electro-mechanical relays and a device for throbbing light to give audio-visual effects.

About Ivan Liu

Ivan Liu ( Chinese name: 劉辰岫 ) is an artist, a scientist and an educator. He has a strong background in science, having obtained a PhD degree in Physics from the world-renowned Max-Planck Institute in Germany, and an undergraduate degree from Imperial College London.

Being passionate about art since a young age, he showed his creative talent through music, photography, graphics and web design while studying to become a scientist. It was when he realized that his passion in science came from the appreciation of the beauty in nature, had he began to bring science into the artistic world.

His art works seamlessly combine rich artist and scientific concepts together, making them indistinguishable from one another. He frequently exhibits his works in public art spaces, and recently completed a large-scale dynamical lighting projection (Penrose's Dream 2014) commissioned by the renowned international 5-star hotel Le Meridien Taipei in the lobby. He also collaborates with architects, designers and artists alike on projects involving new media, due to his long-time passion on the artistic implementation of new technologies.

He is now based in Taipei, Taiwan.

About Julie Magneville

From the Ecole Supérieure de Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower to the Ailey School in New York through the Conservatoire de Lyon, Julie has a predominant Modern formation. As a dancer, she has worked with many choreographers such as Donald MacKayle, Chet Walker, Matt Mattox, Ralph Paul Haze, Milton Myers, Ohad Naharin, Jacqueline Buglisi, Nancy Turano, Freddy Moore, Bruno Agati, Guillaume Bordier. She participated in the Montreal Professional Project with Margie Gillis, David Earle and the Flak and O Vertigo Company. She also danced in Expectico with The Jazz ballet of Montreal, created by Crystal Pite, was soloist in the Ballet Jazz Rick Odums and played in the musical Tarzan in Germany.

She is in demand as Modern teacher and choreographer in various institutions such as the ESDC Rosella Hightower, Les Étés de la Danse in relationship with The San Francisco Ballet, Harmonic Studio, Centre Aléati Brussels, Stage School of Zurich, the Zakat Dance School. She also assisted Tokyo Kevin Inouye for the musical Adam and Eve. She works with the plastician artist Laurent Barnavon.

Since february the 2011 she is the current choreographer of the Zakat Dance Company, and she is also a guest choreographer in Dessources Company directed by Nono Battesti.

She is Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga teacher and specialized for professionnal dancers. She received her training at Vinyasa Yoga Studio Cannes Philippe Bruneau.

She is Intenational Dance Cuncil Member, reconized by UNESCO.

Practical Info

Opening performance: Wednesday 29 October 
20:00 - 22:00
 Facebook event

Free entrance
The bar is open!

Exhibition: Thursday 30 October 

Free entrance!

Location: iMAL
30 quai des Charbonnages - Koolmijnenkaai
1080 Brussels

Media Gallery


This residency is intiated and supported by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in the context of their Taiwan Digital Artist-In-Residence Program.