Hui Fong-wah, Phoebe
| Mixed media | 2013
J: Could you tell us more about your artistic practice ?
H: My artwork combines text and sound, and utilise distinctive qualities of different materials. Through multimedia installations, I try to provide an unusual way to present familiar things for us to re-think and re-learn their characteristics and patterns.
J: Why do you choose text and sound as your artistic elements?
H: They are intriguing for me. My passion for text began in primary school. Our lessons were taught in English and so I kept translating in my head and became fascinated by the words I heard. My interest in sound started from taking a sound editing course during my studies at the City University of Hong Kong.
| Mixed media
| 2009-2011, 2016
J: What roles do text and sound play in your art creation?
H: Regarding the role of text in my artwork, I am deeply influenced by Franco Moretti, an Italian literary scholar. Rather than focusing on text being a communicative tool, he studied its patterns using statistics. This makes me realise that words are not just for communication but can be seen as a system itself. As for sound, I find that we normally pay more attention to visual than sound. While interning in a movie production project at the City University of Hong Kong, we would spend only a few days to a week in editing the sound track. The experience made me wonder – Can we treat sound as the lead character in a piece of creative work, rather than an extra?
Editor’s note: Phoebe’s sound installation, Wordplay II, extends this idea. In this work, she designed a computer programme in which alphabets and words as appear in dictionaries are translated into playable soundscapes.
| Mixed media | 2012
J: You hope to re-learn about the world through creation. Besides text and sound, what other subject matters have you explored and used?
H: I like to use ordinary things and our daily lives as the topics of my art pieces, as their relevance resonates with the audience.
J: What motivates your curiosity to rediscover things?
H: I feel it is difficult for us to totally understand our world. For example, when we interact with people, we cannot possibly understand them completely. Hence, I find it interesting to learn to look at the world from a new perspective through art.
| Mixed media | 2009
J: Besides Hong Kong, you also had experiences exhibiting in other countries such as Britain and America. Did those experiences influence your artwork?
H: The reactions I obtained from exhibiting overseas have offered new insights into cultural differences. In Hong Kong, most of my audience are often art professionals. In places such as the US, however, the art community can be much broader. For example, last year I had an exhibition at the Yale Green Hall Gallery and the audience were mostly locals from various backgrounds.
The overseas experience also prompted me to reflect on our traditional concept of nationality. Once in a workshop, someone in the audience commented that my artwork displayed some distinct oriental characteristics. But in fact, I had not created that particular piece of artwork with any Asian elements in mind. He could have seen me as an Asian and thought that way. We often like to categorise people and things based on superficial presumptions. My artwork Vexation is a subtle reflection on this issue.
| Mixed media | 2018
Special thanks to Photographer
Judy Sirota Rosenthal
| Mixed media | 2012-2013
Hui Fong-wah, Phoebe
J: Have your exhibitions in different places brought about changes in your creative work?
H: Yes, one influence is in the effort I put into interacting with the audience. I seldom interacted with my audience before. However, at an overseas exhibition once, an audience member touched my artwork in a manner lacking gentleness, which prompted me to interfere and explain to him the best way to interact with that piece of artwork. The experience has taught me how to interact with my audience and to consider increasing participatory elements in my works. In my upcoming exhibition at the Jockey Club ifva Everywhere Carnival, my outdoors installation will include such interactive elements.