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Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜

Through the Membrane


Taipei Fine Arts Museum 




Polarizers, Acrylic, Galvanized square


14 (m) x 14 (m) x 2.9 (m)


Cheng Mei Materials Technology Corp.

Structural Consultant

Kuan-Fan Chen + A.S studio


Xiang Yu Co. Ltd.


Rex Chu & Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Film production

Liu Che Chun


We define the space around us by observing and perceiving light and shadow.  That is to say, our perception shapes our basic understanding of this sensory world, and hence the “reality” we believe in.  If our experiential knowledge and awareness of space are challenged, would our definition of a “real phenomenon” also be changed?

Through the Membrane utilizes optical polarizers to change how light passes through space. The installation does not rely on any electromechanical devices. Simply with creative use of material and structure, it presents a super-sensory experience in space where reality and illusion are inextricably juxtaposed.
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
The creative collective WHYIXD believes that audience experience is undoubtedly the core of an artwork. Therefore a set of special polarized glasses was designed for the viewers to better interact with the installation.  As the viewers walk inside Through the Membrane, they are able to observe the microcosmic world created by the artwork, as if they were temporarily endowed with some superpower. 

Through movements of head or body, the viewers are no longer passive members of the audience—they are enabled to not only interact but also bring changes to the surroundings. When they recognize the connection between their body and the installation, their perception of space becomes stronger and keener. It is intended for the viewers to develop different body awareness in contrast to experiential knowledge already acquired. Together the unfamiliar and the accustomed bring forth a sense of “X-Reality”.

Through the Membrane is a multi-layered immersive installation.  Its interior is difficult to be seen from the outside and thus it intrigues people to walk in and find out. As the viewers “pass through the membrane” between layers of circular boundaries, the optical effect of polarizers creates a unique visual illusion—what seems to be solid black walls suddenly becomes transparent. 

Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
A polarizer is typically used in components for LCD products and usually comes in relatively small size.  During the process of making, the creative collective experiments on how to use this material to the extent of architecture, trying to strike a balance between precision and scale.
Through the Membrane received the first prize of “Program X-site” in 2020, the 7th year of the competition.  Displayed on the plaza of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, it was a temporary architectural installation lasting for two months.
A polarizer is an optical material that filters light waves into a specific polarization angle. One of the characteristics of polarizers is that, if stacked at different angles, they alter the amount of the light that is able to pass through.  Visually this creates a dramatic shift between brightness and darkness. 

The creative collective puts this into use and designs a multi-layered structure composed of overlaid polarizers of different polarization angles.  Meanwhile, special polarized glasses are distributed for a better viewing experience. The viewers can feel the gradual and intriguing changes of space as they walk inside the installation.
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
“What is real?” is thus the perpetual question that obsesses the viewers while they explore in the installation. ”
The viewers' participation is a course of building up relationships between the senses, surroundings and unknown phenomena.  As they search what it means for an architecture to be “real”, the connection is therefore formed and they become an integral part of the artwork.
Program X-site is one of the most significant competitions in architecture in Taiwan. It holds an annual open call for proposals, encouraging cross-disciplinary and experimental spatial designs and aesthetic attempts to reimagine the familiar space.  The theme for 2020 was “X-Reality”, as it is quintessential to have continuous cross references (X-Reference) in our search of reality.
The open call of Program X-site 2020 started in May 2019.  After two rounds of preliminary review, Through the Membrane by the cross-disciplinary collective WHYIXD was selected among a total of 42 participating proposals.  The installation was on view from June 13 to August 9 on the plaza of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜

「X-site計畫」是台灣具指標性的建築競賽,每年公開徵選空間提案,鼓勵跨域、實驗性的空間構築和美學的延伸與突破,激發對於場域的重新感知與想像。 本屆徵件計畫提出「多重真實(X-Reality)」之命題概念:探索真實的過程需要持續的交互參照(X-Reference)。

Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜


Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
Xsite 2020: Through the Membrane 多重真實 膜
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