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Posts Tagged ‘time in art’

Sound art, trickery and time – interview Hong Kong new media artist Chilai Howard Cheng

Posted by artradar on November 12, 2009


HONG KONG ART

A portrait of the young artist Chilai Howard.

A portrait of the young artist Chilai Howard.

Chilai Howard Cheng, an ambitious young artist in his early twenties, draws attention to his video exhibition Stiffen Water at Para/Site Central, Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong (5 Sep – 30 Oct). A fresh graduate of School of Creative Media and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, also formerly educated in UK, Chilai is finding the limelight in international art shows – Barcelona, Seoul, Hamburg, and more – using innovative new media.

Just arriving from his part-time job in graphic design, Chilai loosens up in an interview with Art Radar. He talks about his deliberate manipulation of human perceptions with the sound of water dripping from five different sources, and more importantly, his mission to turn more people in Hong Kong from blind buyers into educated art admirers.

Q: Where were you born and educated and how did that influence your art?

I was born in HK. I went to high school in the UK and studied art there for 6 years. For university, I went to HKUST  (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) – creative communications design, and later CityU School of Creative Media. A tutor named Adrian Cooper, whom I met in high school, was very encouraging and recommended some artists such as Alberto Giacometti, a painter and sculptor. This influenced me to start doing some paintings and installations in his style. It’s hard to do installations in Hong Kong though – you need storage and a big studio. Video is easier to manage, so I chose that to begin with.

Q: When did you know you were an artist?

I don’t think I’m an artist. To me, artists no longer exist. R Picasso, Dali were artists because they invented and revolutionized styles and trends. Nowadays, most videos are imitations of the early cinema. At the moment, I call myself an art worker, hopefully an artist after 30 years. I believe that true artists are inventors, such as  Jeffrey Shaw , a media artist as well as the Dean of Creative Media who shaped media art. 

Q: Where did you get your inspirations for Stiffen Water?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stiffen Water by Chilai Howard, video, 2009.

Stiffen Water by Chilai Howard, video, 2009.

 

It’s actually a continuous work of final year project. I calculated the water drops from the beginning to the end of the five-day exhibition. In video-making, we take a micro-narrative approach. Since I want the audience to take a closer look at the water they drink, I decided to play with audience’s conscious and unconscious minds. Even though the video appears to freeze at times,  there is actually still motion in it.  Playing with the same concept, I once made an 18-minute video with scenes from Hong Kong in the sixties, yet in the end the characters revealed that it was in fact the year 2007, so I tricked the audience into identifying the time frame as the sixties.

Q: Why “stiffen”? Not “stiff”?

DSC_0035

Part of the installation work by Chilai Howard

I don’t have an answer because neither do I care much about the title of an artwork, nor do I find it an indispensable element. As a matter of fact, I believe a title ruins all the hidden surprises. I prefer to have my audience guess the subject of my artwork in the way they perceive it. If I were to give my artwork a random title, I would be inviting criticism. It should be the audience, not me, who should name it.

Q: What difficulties lie in the manipulation of the kinetics and sound of water (and to make sure that effects are suitable for the image)?

I had to make sure that the sound and image are synchronized. Basically, I mixed five different sources of water – toilet, shower, pipe, pissing, and water dripping into a tank, with one bass sound. The frequency and the pitches of all five sources are very different, and I had to decide where to place the high-pitch sound.

Q: What aspects of life are you trying to question through Stiffen Water?

Instead of appreciating water, we take it for granted since it’s always been with us. I have a preference for natural elements, such as wood, leaf, plant, trees, for my installations. In the UK, I once shot a bunch of leaves for many days to observe the changes in motion and light. 

Q: How does it differ from other video works of yours, such as Doors? Any particular favorite?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Doors by Chilai Howard, video, 2009

The Doors by Chilai Howard, video, 2009

 

While Stiffen Water is about the natural life, Doors focuses on a social issue. With a plethora of historical buildings under destruction, it’s important to know that ancient is not synonymous with obsolete. As I spent three days taking photos of the same image, I found the patterns of door’s opening and closing fascinating. China attempted to cut off everything from the UK when it took over Hong Kong, so I wanted to shed light on the significance of Star Ferry Pier to our country.

On the other hand, Body Gender is more of a balanced statement inspired by some of my female Hong Kong friends who believe that they’re not treated fairly in Hong Kong – although I think there is equal treatment for all.  By showing only body parts instead of its entirety,  I wished to create the illusion that “he” might be a “she”, or vice versa. 

Q: Next stop for the exhibition? How do reactions to Doors differ between Hong Kong, Barcelona, Seoul and Hamburg ?

The video will travel to Berlin and Taiwan. Right now Doors is in Hamburg. I wanted to go, but I stayed for this exhibition. I also carry a part-time graphic design job, but only for the money. The design industry is far too commercial and practical in Hong Kong, thus not conceptual enough as it is in UK. It’s hard unless you’re a famous designer. 

Q: Obstacles in your art career?

One advantage that Hong Kong has is its small size, which means a smaller art society than that in other countries. So it makes easier to expose your art in Hong Kong. The problem is that people here are not interested in art or art exhibitions. Instead of appreciating art and the history behind it, some buyers use it as pure decoration. Another obstacle is that it’s hard to expose Hong Kong art to the world. There are very few internationally renowned artists from Hong Kong compared with, say, Canada, so we don’t attract as many people to our overseas exhibitions. Due to political reasons, Chinese artists are not that exposed to the world either until recently the government relaxed its policies on art. The West loves traditional Chinese art and calligraphy, but some treat it as no more than decorations, too. 

Q: What key message do you want to convey through your art?

No fixed message, but I pay attention to political or social issues. For instance, the financial markets are Hong Kong’s main asset, but as companies begin to move their headquarters to Shanghai, what else will be left in Hong Kong then? We used to have factories, but they all moved to mainland. Even yuan is more valuable than Hong Kong dollars now. 

Q: Future endeavors?

I might go back to UK to study. But I will return to Hong Kong. This is my dream to expose Hong Kong art to the world. That’s why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, to educate young kids. The art education here needs a lot of improvement. I have to be famous to acquire the credibility to convince people and change how they perceive art. 

Q: What are other graduates of your class doing? 

Not everyone wanted to be an artist. Some preferred to work nine-to-five shifts. Some became art administrators for organizing shows, while others entered the field of business, marketing, or advertising.  Everyone’s dream is different.

Q: Did you imagine yourself to be successful at a young age? Future exhibitions?

IMG_8900

Timeless by Chilai Howard Cheng, 2009.

I don’t consider myself successful, but I’m honored to be included in the exhibition. Success is when I can influence more people to appreciate art. That’s my dream. 

My new video Timeless will be exhibiting in October Contemporary. This time I will shoot a curtain to illustrate the patterns of light’s coming in and out, which reflects how time flies, and how both light and time are untouchable, abstract systems. In fact, I almost had the opportunity to exhibit my first installation there, but I missed the invitation email sent by Input Output. 

Q: You were accepted at Goldsmith College, University of London, Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. Why did you return to Hong Kong?

My art was rather renowned where I went to school in UK.  However, it’s common for westerners to like Chinese art because they find the integration of the west and east exotic. So I was dubious of my talent. I was confused about whether I were really good at art, or did they simply like my work due to the incorporation of oriental elements. To prove to myself that my artwork is worthy, I came back to Hong Kong and began everything from zero. I don’t regret the decision, especially now that I’ve started to hold exhibitions, an opportunity that would be hard to obtain in a much larger art society in UK.

WM/KCE

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Posted in Asian, Chilai Howard Cheng, Chinese, Doors, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Installation, Interviews, Light, New Media, Photography, Political, Slow/fast art, Social, Sound, Sound art, Time, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4 fascinating video interviews

Posted by artradar on May 19, 2009


 JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHY

 Thank heavens for youtube which has given us a whole new way to appreciate art and learn about artists.

In these video interviews, internationally-acclaimed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto gives us a glimpse of his warm personality. Intelligent and mild-mannered, he responds with self-deprecating humour to questions about the source of his inspiration and his innovative approach to traditional photographic techniques.

HiroshiSugimotoStylizedScul

What we found particularly fascinating in these videos is how Sugimoto uses one series of work to inform and serve as inspiration for later ones. In the T Magazine video, he describes how his earlier work with waxworks and still forms inspired him to photograph mannequins instead of live models and the resulting images have a sculptural quality, an interest which he explored in his ‘Joe Series’ based on Richard Serra sculptures.

T Magazine: It’s all about Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4: 29 – Feb 2008 – fashion as sculpture – In his first fashion commission for the New York Times style magazine, Sugimoto describes why he photographs fashion on mannequins rather than live models and how he develops his ideas some of which lie latent for 30 or 40 years. “There is always something being cooked in my noodle”

Art 21: Hiroshi Sugimoto –  1:27 mins – Feb 2008 – Photography as a tool to explore time – A  video snippet of the delightfully warm Hiroshi Sugimoto explaining how he shuns sophisticated and computer-generated techniques. He demonstrates how he manipulates light with shades in his Paris studio: difficult to control he says but still the way to make the best pictures.

Hiroshi Sugimoto Portrait series

Hiroshi Sugimoto Portrait series

Hiroshi Sugimoto Part 1 – 6:50 mins – 2007 – Waxworks and the ‘Portrait’ series – As his work is being installed in Villa Manin in his first serious show in Italy, Sugimoto talks about his photographs of wax images of the Pope, Lady Diana, Holbein’s Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth. Sugimoto explains that when he makes the images of the waxworks he aims to recreate the original photos and paintings on which the wax works are based.

Hiroshi Sugimoto talks – 3:55 mins – Oct 2006 – at his ‘Joe Series’ exhibition at the Pulitzer in 2006 – In 2003 Sugimoto visited the Pulitzer Foundation to photograph the building designed by fellow countryman Tadao Ando but quickly turned his attention to Richard Serra’s sculpture Joe installed in the courtyard and dedicated to the late Joseph Pulitzer. He discusses the resulting photographs and  his ‘twice as infinity’ technique in which he focuses beyond infinity to make the images.

 

 

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Posted in Hiroshi Sugimoto, Interviews, Japanese, Photography, Time, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Emerging Chinese installation artist Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen at Venice Biennale 2009

Posted by artradar on April 27, 2009


VENICE BIENNALE HONG KONG

The award-winning young conceptual artist Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen will represent Hong Kong at the 53rd Venice Biennale (June to November 2009) with an exhibition of newly-created works and past works which will focus on the two themes of Hong Kong and cultural alienation .

The exhibition called  “Making (Perfect) World: Harbour, Hong Kong, Alienated Cities and Dreams” is curated by Mr Tobias Berger, formerly curator of Hong Kong’s Para/Site and now curator at the Nam Jun Paik Art Center in Korea.

Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen works

His highly original and playful works often provoke a sense of surprise and curiosity. In recent works he enjoys numbers, words and the spaces between them. He likes to provoke serendipitous happenings and to explore the unknown and non-existent.

Tozer Pak Sheung Chun, The Half Folded Library, Guangdong Art Museum

Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, The Half Folded Library, Guangdong Art Museum

One of the most intriguing works by this artist which was created during his residency in New York and exhibited at the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial 2008, involved secretly folding page 22 in 15,500 books in the Ottendorfer Branch Public Library in New York.

Tozer Pak Sheung Chun, 2008 film 2008, film installation

Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, 2008 film 2008, film installation

In an exhibition currently showing at the Nam Jun Paik Art Center in Singapore ‘The First Stop on the Super Highway” Tozer Pak explores space/time with film in his film installation ‘2008 film 2008’.

“In a film, 1 second is 24 frames. Each frame is a picture. But when you watch 1 second of film, you are not only watching 24 frames of pictures. You also watch the blank spaces (the black bars) between the frames. We see the light, but we can’t see the darkness.

I cut out all the blank spaces from a film. And then, I join all these blank spaces back together into another “film”(a black film). This “film” is then projected on the wall by a film-projector. Through this process we are able to watch the “invisible part” of a film, the time that is traditionally considered inexistent.

The proportion of blank space and picture space in a frame (of that Hong Kong film) is 7:13. The “black film” on the wall and the film in the machine are both 383cm, and were cut from 23 seconds of film. During the exhibition this film will be shown on the first fifth minute of every hour. (Pak Sheung Chuen) note 1

Information about and images of his earlier works which explore height and politics can be found on Tozer Pak’s gallery on Hong Kong Art Web.

Biography of Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen

Pak Sheung Chuen is a young conceptual and performance artist who was born in 1977 in Fujian and immigrated to Hong Kong in 1984, . Pak graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2002 with a major in fine arts and a minor in theology. He has exhibited at, among others, The 3rd Yokohama Triennial (2008), The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial (2008), ‘China Power Station: Part 2′ and Inward Gazes – Documentaries of Chinese Performance Art’ Macao Museum of Art (2005). In 2006, he was awarded the Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship of Asian Cultural Council and joined ISCP residency program in New York.note 2

Notes:

  1. Tozer Pak sat Nam Jun Paik Art Center First Stop on the Super Highway
  2. Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen residency at Asia Art Archive

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Posted in Biennials, Chinese, Emerging artists, Hong Kong Artists, Installation, Museum shows, Performance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »