Sugarcane Fiber, Molasses, Ethanol-blended Aviation Gasoline. Just What Is It That Makes Today's SUGARCANE FIELDS So Different, So Appealing?
Sugar was one of the first international commodities to contribute to Taiwan's exports into the global economy. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company made a great deal of profit by trading in sugar. During the era of the Tungning Kingdom, sugarcane was cultivated on a large scale. During the period of Japanese rule, the governor-general of Taiwan fostered Japanese corporations to establish sugar factories island-wide to increase the production of refined sugar. Even molasses, a by-product of sugar processing, can be used to produce high purity ethanol (alcohol) after fermentation. Ethanol was then applied to aviation fuel which allowed the Japanese military to fly south. Thus, the role of sugar transformed from being a commodity to a commercial commodity and then to military supplies.
When I learned that Tsung-Yeh was the headquarters and one of the sugar factories of the Japanese Meiji Sugar Manufacturing Corporation in Taiwan, I decided to use “Sugarcane bagasse” as the material with which to construct a sculpture, taking the historical archives of the sugar industry as the context. In my residency project, I am presenting sculptures of different agricultural tools and military gear, such as the combination of a sickle and a bomb, or a hoe and a propeller. My intention is to explore the transformation of the sugar industry’s position and value under the system of global economics.