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  • 2017 2nd AUO Artist
  • Elaine Wong
  • City University of Hong Kong, Creative Media, 5th semester
  • WONG is pursuing her MFA from the School of Creative Media (Hong Kong) and was trained as a fine artist at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University where she received her BA (Fine Art) degree with distinction in 2014. In 2013 she was awarded the scholarship from Hong Kong Art Centre to attend the Culture, Graphic Design and Fine Arts program in New York School of Visual Arts. Her practice is about her experience in the city inspired by feelings and emotions of living, and the works endeavour to investigate social phenomenon and its relation to humanity.
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White Night

Media Arts / Performance

  • 2017
  • Documentation video
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (Lullaby for the Insomniacs)
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (Lullaby for the Insomniacs)
  • 2017
  • Lullaby for the Insomniacs (3')
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (Out of Xanax)
  • 2017
  • Out of Xanax (2')
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (Floating Box)
  • 2017
  • Floating Box (2'31")
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (Floating Island)
  • 2017
  • Floating Island (2')
  • 2017
  • Still image from video (On the Road)
  • 2017
  • On the Road (1'34")

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

BACKGROUND

The work began with an exercise to stretch the materialist and intermedia possibilities of videos, and a spatialisation exercise.  The subject and concept was not predetermined at first, but slowly unveiled throughout the creative process.  This work is probably an unconscious respond to my concern about inner conditions, sleeps, dreams and nightmares.

ARTWORK STATEMENT

Is the night not darkened, or is the day overspread?

In a city that does not sleep where does tranquility lie?  White Night is the sensuous world of a city dweller trapped in limbo, experiencing the sleepless night and the drowsy day at the same time.  The objects and moving images of the installation are set up to invent an immersive spatial painting that invites bystanders to step into an insomniac's sentiments.

DEVELOPMENT

[Installation]

The installation includes 4 sets of moving images (1 main projection on wall, 1 TV, 1 iPad, 1 projection on hanging cloth), 1 light projection and some objects (mirrors, chair, blank canvas, frames and drapes).

With the frames and windows in video work Out of Xanax, the concept of a room-like setup surfaced immediately - chair, white wall, curtains, TV-set, canvas came into the picture with the idea.  The space feels like an indoor space, but light projections and images of the traffic suggest it is not. The space belongs to someone, viewers can look at her/his tv and window, walk around, but not to take her/his seat.

The development of the installation is almost like to create a painting in space - it is a continuous process of compositing, rearranging and sculpting the moving images and objects in the space.

I am concerned about how the blue, black and white communicates, how the clouds and drapes sync with one another; the way waves in different materials echo with one another,  how the drapes, windows, rectangular frames and canvas respond to the presence of each other...

[Videos]

There are two videos played in the main projection - Out of Xanax (2') and Lullaby for the Insomniacs (3').

Out of Xanax is a journey for viewers to swim in a stack of still images, by looking through a square frame. This work evolves in a square frame that symbolise a window, to unfold an experience of navigating through at a series of closeups and image surfaces.

The images behind the frame are moved from left to right, top to bottom, magnified and diminished to create illusions of perspectives change. Viewers are directed to follow a preset direction - from outdoor to indoor, zoom into outdoor and back out to the indoor... Throughout the work, the external and internal compete to be in the frame, but the struggle is worthless, the frame chooses to make viewers feel disoriented and diffuse the difference between interior and exterior.

Lullaby for the Insomniacs creates a nocturnal excursion through indoor, outdoor and the psychological. The work transports viewers to and from different spaces - for a second we observe the lights and moon through a window, the next moment we drift to the outdoor, and drown in the past, then back inside... Extending from the dialogue between the lights and the moon, another time-space are added to the conversation. The work translates an experience of urban living, with a lot of movement - but it is difficult to tell whether we are progressing or reversing.

Floating Island (2'31") and Floating Box (2') shown in the TV set provide a contemplative moment, a quiet contrast to the main projection.

On the Road (1'34") is a city that won't sleep at night, projected onto a white drape.

[Sound]

Apart from the sound in the video, 1 portable speaker is added next to the drape with projection, with a very low volume of rain and thunder.

 









Advice
Mina Cheon, Artist, Professor
SEMESTER CONCLUDING REMARKS from Mina Cheon

Dear Elaine

Thank you for providing the full statement for Phantoms of 20C. I'm enraptured by the meaning behind the video, the work is so much more rich with the conceptual backstory, I love it! I think whether it is Victorian or Confucian, the place of women (or power relations imposed on gender) has been seen as restrictive in society and at place in the home, but the idea of home space is also oppressive. The concept of safespace further enforces the restriction. I love Sowon Kwon's work, if you get to see her past pieces, where distorted ergonomic female figures are awkwardly placed with furniture and homespace, to question what is the perfect fit between women and home (and objects), or her photomontage prints of furniture (like sofa) that are morphed into larger than life patterns, saying something about the burdens of the home we carry. When I see Kim Sooja's bottari and the ideas of diaspora, home in containers or packages for travel, I wonder about the appropriate metaphysical translation of the material burden especially for women as carriers (biological etc), and I see that your piece is making a very interesting connection and time-base experience about the psychological phantoms as remanents of structured societies. I'm always surprised at the stark contrast between our theoretical cultural progress versus social reality, your work lingers greatly in paradoxes of our time that reflects the chaos and contradiction between desire and reality, past and futurity. Thanks for all the poignant work and development this semester! Sincerely Mina


On Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 4:26 AM, Elaine Wong wrote:
Dear Mina

Hope you are well. Thanks again for the great comments and they meant a lot to me, especially as I hope to polish and improve the works.

Just finished handing in all assignment for this semester, will respond to your review on White Night soon! Thanks again.

For the work Phantoms of 20C, I have responded to your comments and tried to revise the statements on Art-uni-on website. Here's the detail for your quick reference:

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Dear Mina

Thanks so much for your detailed comments.

Actually the paragraph was written as the artwork statement for the video, I have changed it and include an artist statement as well. Kindly see here the new version, would be great if you can share any comments on how they can be improved:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Artwork statement

Phantoms of 20C is a world of intense, unnameable mental conditions of someone in a 40-year-old apartment in Hong Kong, in the form of voices/noises from within the house and penetrating from outside.

The distractions from the outside invade into Flat 20C, a place someone called home. Home is more than the place of residence, it is a space that gives a person the sense of home, which makes a home more than a physical space - it is a place for someone to be himself/herself, supposedly. Home symbolises the self as an entity facing the world outside the apartment, where‘the greater are people's feelings of living in a dangerous hostile world with the constant threats to the self, the greater is the likelihood that they will regard their house as a shell, a fortress into which to retreat’ (Cooper, p.170), in the case of women who live in their own homes, their homes become 'safe zones' to protect them from social critiques.

Slowly the tension between internal thoughts and the external world is unfolded, led by the flow of heavily-textured sound and images reconstructed from daily encounters. Waltzing between what is internal and external, sight and sound in the work become thick, undefinable mixtures, forming a journey into darkness, with muffled dialogues reaching for experiential transformation.


Artist statement

We are surrounded by voices telling us what's right and what's wrong. In the rhizome of truth and post-truth, everyone has her/his say about everything. We listen, ignore, adapt, resist and compromise in the hyper-narrative world.

As a female in the society, under the influence of the world full of judgements – mother thinks women should not date a certain type of men, in-laws think women should be a mother, opinion leaders blog about what women should wear, talkshows criticise certain belief, commercials tell women what kind of lives they should live, random Facebook friends theorise their idea of the perfect girlfriend… from traditions to social media, we never stopped withstanding. In Foucaultian terms, the struggle against power is inevitable, wherever economic processes, knowledge relations, and sexual relations exist, struggle exists.

With an intention to fabricate the tension of someone's mental state, the video is about holding one spellbound by composing with reality and illusion, transforming, repeating, overlapping images and sound.

It is a work to be experienced.

Cooper, Clara. “The Houses as Symbol of the Self.” In The People, Place and Space Reader, 168-72. New York: Routledge, 1974
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For the development process, please kindly take a look at the document here:

https://docs.google.com/a/miss-wong.com/presentation/d/1bDrjgIFuMg41r4v9K1-ZGD6jK7a-quRw06tNz6K7vgs/edit?usp=sharing

I'm trying to read Freud's The Uncanny, will definitely think about how it can be related to the work. Thanks so much for the suggestion.
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Have a great day!

Regards

--

Elaine

Mina Cheon, Artist, Professor
Elaine, wow you are one productive new media artist!







I completely appreciate you 1) creating another entire immersive environment in no time with very effective video and sound pieces, 2) creating a documentation for assisting with the experience for the on-line viewers, 3) your ability to write the statement that includes the verbal explanation of artist’s liminal experience between dream space and reality, mediated by time based extension, also well explained in the text, the project is well articulated and very clear in its delivery.







I’m still curious about your last piece “Phantoms of 20C” and wish I knew whether or not the 40-year-old apartment in Hong Kong has anything to do with British take over and return to China, the remnants of postcolonial state in its urban planning and lived spaces that carry the historical burden, but alas, you don’t say so but I am assuming there is something to do with structure and power (your reference to Foucault) and how historically laden it is even in the space you or someone else occupies in Hong Kong, making the so called apartment (highrise) spaces of HK a part of the past and current phantom narrative. (Serious unfinished business here.)







Which comes to my next point. Your new installation is your space, possibly your creative space, space of imagination, dream space, your media space, lived space, and space of personal contention that you recreated it in the luscious and exaggerated form that you have. I am really intrigued as to why are invested in interweaving the fractured experience of life into this kind of aquatic immersive totality. By blurring what is media, nature, time, space, inside/outside, and the echoes of technological screens and “frames” of all kind, you share the lens in which we see, witness, experience mediated worlds. It could be the canvas frame, as you say that this is a painting of a kind, but it doesn’t have to be.







Watching all the parts and imagining the space, I’m completely engrossed by the video images, sensuality, and crisp sound editing that puts me on my toes, makes me uncomfortable by the dire familiarity of this dream space being in between time, endless drunken nights that bleed into sober days. The pain of creative space is monstrous, it might look beautiful on the outside (possibly like a painting, something to do with aesthetics) but the inside of creative workings is that stretched out time and liminal, where there is no way of pivoting a proper moment, frame, existence. Well, ok that is what I read in your work today. Beautiful stuff, gorgeous writing and thought process. Sincerely Mina (should be reading Freud’s interpretation of dreams with you right now and please read Victor Turner on liminality)





FYI, your video reminds me of the video art by Seoungho Cho and sound art by Stephen Vitiello, they did collaborate in the past. https://www.eai.org/artists/seoungho-cho/biography http://www.stephenvitiello.com/
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