By Shen Chao-Liang
The attraction was instantaneous. These colossuses, more like an allusion to “The Transformers” of box office success, were magically entrancing… — Shen Chao-Liang At the end of 2005, photographer Shen Chao-Liang was preparing to dive into a project about the Taiwanese cabaret. However, in his early field visits, he became more entranced by the elaborate stage trucks that were employed by the cabarets and other performers — and these stage trucks soon became the focus of his project. These mobile stages travel across the country, almost non-stop, to serve as short-term temporary performance spaces. The usage varies widely: from religious celebrations to village karaokes to cabaret shows. In less than an hour, the stages are able to transform from innocent looking trucks into 50-foot sensory spectacles, and back into trucks again, ready to roll off to their next destination. They come equipped with enormous sound systems, flashing neon lights, and garish painted stage sets. The often incongruous mix of icons and imagery is baffling and amusing: an enormous Eiffel Tower facing off with a Statue of Liberty, a neon horse-drawn pumpkin carriage, popular cartoon characters — you have to see them to believe them.