Battle of Tamsui, Sino-French War of 1884

Against the backdrop of the Battle of Tamsui on October 8, 1884, this series by artist Lin Shuen-Long represents a history of this battle by overlapping landscapes. The four parts are based on four spatiotemporal nodes,- after the French army’s “landing”, the Qing army’s “defense” on the outer city bay, the French army sent a “signal” to retreat from the Wanggaolou Lighthouse, and finally the “defeat” and return to the battleship. Part I: Landing As a prelude to the Battle of Tamsui, French troops landed from the shore of Shalun, Tamsui at 9 a.m. on October 8, 1884. To reproduce battle formations of French troops, the artwork represents arrays of French soldiers with uniformed tricolor flags of steel pipes in blue, white, and red, fluttering along with sea breeze and rippling waves on a piece of sandlot. Part II: Defense This artwork is installed near a historical site where the outer earth rampart was built by defending troops of Qing Dynasty jointly with local residents prior to the Battle of Tamsui, which played an important role in defense. The key to winning lies in the construction of layers of defensive networks by soldiers and civilians under the command of General Sun Kaihua during that period plus natural barriers of swamps and beach bushes of thatch screwpines and coastal cottonwoods. Major personnel in the event including General Sun, soldiers of Qing Dynasty, volunteer army, Dr. George Leslie Mackay and British merchants are depicted in silhouettes placed in an elevated rack and decorated underneath with silhouettes of flowers, leaves and fruit of screwpines and cottonwoods. Through the silhouettes viewers will be able to look at current beach outside the then rampart with various links to historical characters. Part III: Signaling, Battle of Tamsui, Sino-French War of 1884 In the form of a telescope, this artwork is installed on an observation deck built on the historical site of a French lookout. Inside the telescope shows a French soldier standing on a stone lookout and waving his hand to send retreat signals to French warships at sea, while a clock face at the telescope indicates 11:45 of October 8, 1884, the time of French retreat. The overlapping actual seascapes and various historical images create a sense of cohesiveness with time interleaved with space. Part IV: Defeated and Flee, Battle of Tamsui, Sino-French War of 1884 The estuary of Lin Zi River was the historical site where French troops retreated through. After being assailed from various sides, French troops fled to the estuary in great flurries and waited for boats coming for evacuation. To show the difficult situations encountered by French troops, tricolor steel pipes are scattered on the sand and the boats to symbolize wounded and fatigued French soldiers. Historical events in the epilogue of Battle of Tamsui are introduced to viewers with simple and straightforward modern art forms.
Tamsui, Taiwan 2020