Pei-Hsuan Wang created a transparent horse for an exhibition in Kunsthal Ghent.
The idea first came from a horse: How do I custom-make a life-size, see-through horse that contains an object within its body?
I wanted to build a horse for the exhibition 'Ghost Eat Mud' at Kunsthal Gent. The horse was part of a larger automated installation, and was loosely based on myths of Eastern and Western origins, i.e. the Trojan Horse and the trusted steed of Mulan, as well as references to childhood, i.e. the rocking horse or the merry-go-around. It was important that the body of the horse was somewhat transparent, because I wanted to place the model from which I cast the horse's head inside the body, suggesting that: what lay inside the horse was not a lethal army, but simply the horse itself.
The horse had a metal armature, with varying-dimensioned 'windows' formed by welded steel beams. I wanted to custom-make panels to cover these windows, something that could be embedded with coded meanings that would add complexity as well as absurdity to the horse - all while still possessing a textured, see-through quality. Vacuum forming my own panels became a fitting option.
Pineapples are among the fruits that my grandmother grew in her orchard in central Taiwan. They are also a highly politicized Taiwanese export item synonymous in pronunciation with ‘fortune arrives 旺來.’ Earlier in 2022, China banned the import of Taiwanese pineapples, setting off a flurry of protests by Taiwan’s politicians and international allies.
Plumtree blossoms are the disputed national flower of Taiwan. Admired for its white blooms after harsh winters - a metaphor for tenacity and purity - this floral identification was determined by the Nationalist government, which ruled mainland China until the communist takeover in 1949, leading to the Nationalist relocation to the island Taiwan, which was newly ‘liberated’ from the Japanese colonization. Plumtree flowers are not native to the sub/tropical island of Taiwan. Their enshrinement symbolizes a removed dream with a glorified mainland origin and vision.
To create vacuum-formed panels patterned with pineapple and plum flower motifs, I used models for the PETG sheets to form against.
I first made a two-part silicone mould of a real pineapple. Then I made several casts in plaster. Some casts were whole, others in sections. The plaster casts were air-dried thoroughly then placed on the vacuum form bed to form a composition.
I designed an endless plum blossom pattern in Illustrator. Then I had this pattern laser-cut into a thin MDF sheet. The patterned MDF sheet then became a 'background' model on the vacuum form bed.
The pineapple and floral motifs were combined to create textured collages. To release the models from the molten PETG sheets after each vacuum forming round, careful excavation was needed. Undercuts on the models meant that the melted material could easily encase and trap the model inside a now hardened shell.
The vacuum form machine left an indented 'border' all around the formed panels. I used a multitool along a straight edge to cut away the indents, leaving each panel relatively flat on all edges. Finally, I measured the 'windows' on the horse's steel frame, and cut the panels to corresponding dimensions with a multitool.
More info at pei-hsuanwang.com