James Ming-Hsueh Lee’s work often centers on re-interpreting objects found in our everyday surroundings, investigating their meaning and value, and reexamining our habitual understanding of them as conditioned by the media, education and society. By reversing the way in which objects are used, and transforming their appearance or our perceptions of them, the artist is able to offer interpretations that are refreshing and amusing, creating a relaxing feeling despite the bitter undertone.
In Spectrum, specially made for this exhibition, James Ming-Hsueh Lee collected bottled tea from supermarkets and convenience stores, removed the packaging, and arranged the bottles as spectral gradients according to the colors of the tea. The artist regards supermarkets and convenience stores as a living database, a huge library containing an array of everyday items, continually updated to meet consumer needs. The work focuses on the culture of tea in the context of globalization and localization, with bottled tea as a metaphor for a cultural phenomenon evidencing the transformation of memories and civilized behaviors. Be they international brands or local specialties, the tea products are viewed as equals, offering no cultural dialogues or clues beneath their commercial surfaces. By arranging the bottled tea as a horizontal spectral gradient, Spectrum invests a capitalist product with a poetic thrust, thereby inviting viewers to ponder a new relationship between people, tea, culture, economy, memory, and the imagination.