J: What are your pursuits in the arts? Why are you so passionate about sound, video and installation art?
T: I attended Dr. Bryan Chung’s class in university, which has piqued my interest in new media and -multidisciplinary art. I regard him as my mentor. I admire his crazy ideas, extraordinary mindset and logic. His artworks have inspired me to create Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!. I never missed his classes!
I love exploring the possibilities and fun of orchestrating various components. Influenced by my father who is fond of repairing things, I enjoy disassembling things, learning about their inner structure, and transforming them into new gadgets – it’s something I have done ever since I was a kid. My graduation work The Musical Instruments was created with the components from various musical instruments. When I was young, my parents encouraged me to learn different musical instruments. Yet, I got bored with mundane practise and would always call it quit after a short while. As I was about to finish my undergraduate studies, they asked me to clean up these dusty instruments. I decided to take them apart and study them closely, which in turn inspired me to create this artwork. I think I am a bit like the destructive kid in Toy Story.
J: The line between noise and music is a blurry one. How do you interpret sound?
T: In fact, my works are always making “noise”, which probably annoy my studio partners quite a bit. The principle of how each sound is made and the purpose behind are worth studying and pondering on. For example, Like a Breeze plays my sister’s snores when she is asleep, which resembles the sound of wind-blowing. When encountering this work, the audience might first think it is the sound of the wind, but would soon discover that it is snoring. As for Wait, it creates the screechy sound of porcelain made when the cup lid glides over the rim. Through this work, I tried to imitate the scene of my father drinking tea in the morning – a sound I wake up to every day. We are surrounded by various “noises” in daily life, some could be disturbing at first, but it may also be a sweet thing to recall.
Another familiar sound is the chimes of the ice-cream van. When I was a child, my mother used to wheedle me into eating the bitter gourd and said, “I will buy you an ice-cream after this.” While my mind was filled with the sweet treat from the ice-cream van, I was eating the repelling bitter gourd. The whole thing was pretty paradoxical in itself, and the head and tail of bitter gourd is somewhat similar to that of an ice-cream. I therefore created Buy you an ice-cream after you have finished this, a music box playing chimes of ice-cream van with a bitter gourd rotating on top. Another work White Flag is also related to bitter gourd.
J: Which piece/set of work is your favourite?
T: Falling Flowers is one of my favourites. This installation cuts the daily newspaper into paper flowers with a hole puncher, leaving “newspaper flowers” falling down from the installation. Through the work, I want to convey how we see the increasingly ridiculous situation in Hong Kong. When the “rosy facade” (petals) that covers our eyes depraves, we have to face the ugly side (news). This work was featured at the exhibition “I know you are but what am I” in Vancouver, Canada, responding to the exhibition theme on identity.
Mixed media | 2018
J: Tell us more about your upcoming exhibition “Gently” at PMQ with Ting Lap-tak, Zachary. Where does the inspiration come from?
T: “Gently” does not only imply the lightness of weight, but also a tenderness in feeling – “mother touched my face gently”, “her hair brushed by me gently”. “Gently” is a subjective perspective that seems to be indistinct, incomprehensible and uncatchable. It is a vague impression that lies somewhere between the tangible and the intangible. This exhibition takes on the theme, “Gently”, as we attempt to interpret it using different materials and methods respectively, and give this fuzzy feeling a “form”.
I also joined an exhibition at PMQ last month named “Out of Focus”, which toyed with the ambiguity in vision. The inspiration of my exhibited work Almost Alive comes from the scene where leaves sweep across the bus windows, and the blurry visual effect of frost glass.
Mixed media | 2019
J: Why did you choose to jointly rent a studio with Zachary Ting, Lui Siu-fung and Kwok Ka-lok, and name the studio “Mary”?
T: We are all graduates of HKBU’s Academy of Visual Arts, sharing similar vision and direction. Zachary and I mainly focus on conceptual and stereoscopic artwork, while Lui and Kwok work on design and exhibition production. Each of us develops a unique area that we are best at. Collectively, we can present exhibitions that are most efficient in costs and intact in idea, as we can save on redundant costs and time that may result from outsourcing agency and miscommunication with partners. And most importantly, we all progress further through the exchange of ideas. As for the name “Mary”, well, it is a common name that is easy to remember. With “Mary” as the name for a team of four dudes, the ambiguity serves well as an icebreaker in social situations (chuckles).