What's going on around the globe On a fateful day in 2000, while Taiwanese video artist Chen Yung-hsien pondered what materials to use for a new piece, images of raw meat came to mind. Chen rushed off to gather his art supplies at a supermarket, stopping at a stationery store for elastic bands along the way. What was he up to? 'I started thinking about how I could use my head, nose, eyes and mouth in my art. The idea came from meditation.' First, he covered his shaved head with a layer of smoked salmon, holding the strips in place with elastic bands. 'It's all very wet and moist. It's very sticky as well and your face gets numb once you put the elastics around your head. It's very tight. You feel like you're between life and death because no blood can circulate where you've got the elastics. You can't breathe. You can't hear because the layers of meat and fish cover your ears.' After Chen's head is wrapped with three layers of salmon and bacon, a pair of scissors enters the screen. With each snip, an elastic band flies off, taking slices of bacon and salmon with it. This is repeated until Chen's face emerges slowly, sometimes a little bloody where the elastic bands are too hard. Chen made three attempts to get Release (2000) just right. That's quite a few packs of smoked salmon and bacon. Continuing on the meditation theme Chen started to create his Head on the Plate series, a collection of four video installations. In Head on the Plate - Grassing (2001, below), Chen's head is covered with a layer of soil. Grains of rice are embedded on one side. Then the rice start to germinate. Soon, roots begin to engulf him, and young green sprouts shoot towards the light. After three weeks, there is no rice to harvest, but Chen finally pulls the patch of grass off his head. In Head on the Plate - In and Out (2001), Chen explores meditation and life. His head is surrounded by writing - half in black, half in white. Nothing happens until beans start to drop on Chen's head. It's hard deciding whether to laugh or not, until Chen spits out beans with Chinese characters on them. In Head on the Plate - Breathing with Maggots (2001), Chen makes us squirm. With nourishment and life comes decay. This time, he shares his head with maggots. Chen says we all forget to breathe properly. But with the maggots, it's easier to focus. The more they nibble and gnaw, the more focused he becomes on his meditation. Finally, in Head on the Plate - Unknown Shore (2001), Chen's head, painted white, floats among lotuses in a dark, cold pond. 'It's guessing what you're looking for in the future - your next life.' Maybe, if there is one.