At the 54th Venice Biennale, in 2011, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum presented a group exhibition, titled “The Heard & the Unheard: Soundscape Taiwan”, that focused solely on the medium of sound. It featured not only works – video and audio recordings – by artists Wang Hong-kai and Su Yu-hsien but also a makeshift library of documentary materials and audiovisual archives that charted the rise of social activism on the island after 1987, when martial law was lifted and opposition parties and diverse political views were allowed. Breaking with tradition: new generation of Chinese artists reflect a globalising world “Before the lifting of martial law, all voices or songs were censored and controlled by the government,” curator Amy Cheng told me in 2011. “After 1987, everyone in Taiwan could express themselves. We try to outline this social change and how people used sound and [the] sound movement to express themselves, trying to change society with their own sound and voice.” At the forefront of that liberation movement was Lin Chi-wei, a founding member of the “noise group” Zero and Sound Liberation Organisation, who performed at the 2011 Venice Biennale. In the early 1990s, long before art was used as a form of intervention in Taiwan, Lin and his collaborators staged sometimes unruly performances that challenged the role of art in society at a time of change. The artist’s latest solo outing at Hanart TZ Gallery, in Central, however, is a more reflective and personal affair. “Revolving Binary Forces” showcases 22 mixed-media collages and paintings, as well as an installation and a single-channel video, all created since 2013, when Lin returned to Taiwan after eight years working in Beijing. Spraying colour on a new urban canvas: Taiwan’s graffiti artists welcomed into legalised graffiti zones The MUSARC Performance Video , the only sound piece on show, is a documentation of a Tape Music performance that took place in London this year. Tape Music invites a live audience of up to two dozen members sitting in a spiral to read out monosyllables, such as “ding”, “niu” and “ya”, embroidered on a rolled-up tape up to 200 metres long. As the tape unravels, passing from one participant to the next, a chant is performed. The interactive work can be seen as an impromptu ritual that can vary in tone, and even speed, depending on where it is held. Tape Music was performed on the opening night of the Hong Kong exhibition and it was one of the fastest renditions of the piece. According to the gallery, the performance lasted about 18 minutes, about five minutes shorter than the videoed performance on show and the one held at London’s Tate Modern in 2012. It reflected, some observers noted, the true nature of our fast-paced and efficient city. The mixed-media collages are framed and presented like paintings. Each work is an exploration of the artist’s personal life and full of details. Mercy as Profound as the Sea (2015), Pleasant Goat (2016) and Grey Wolf (2016) are props or costumes Lin has used in past performances; the materials – sequins, plastic pearls and lace – and the motifs are a reminder of old Taiwan and an era that is now being forgotten. These works evoke a sense of nostalgia without being overly sentimental. More poignant and personal is Nine Peonies (2015), a piece that commemorates Lin’s father who was dying of a terminal illness when the artist returned home from Beijing. It features nine crab shells, with an old photograph placed inside each. While it is not explained why all the images are of three people, or indeed who they are, the gallery does reveal that these shells were collected by Lin senior, who spent his last days eating the food he loved. In Union of Double Blessing (2015), old photographs of twins are put inside a “nest” furnished with ferns and seeds. If Nine Peonies is about death, this piece celebrates life and living. A number of the paintings on show are literal visual representations of sound. It takes little imagination to realise the curves in Union of Ears (2016) are sound waves, while Nu and Nan , both painted in 2015, are “calligraphy” of the Chinese characters “woman” and “man”. There are some interesting concepts here but it is the collages that really touch the heart. Visitors to the exhibition are well advised to grab an information sheet from a table near the entrance as none of the works on show come with any notes or explanations, and they cannot be fully appreciated without being viewed in their proper historical context. “Revolving Binary Forces” will be on display at Hanart TZ Gallery, 4/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, until October 8.