Mixed emotions

| Trista Yeung 19 Aug 2016

Relationships can be confusing. For instance, getting sufficient space or not is always a head-scratching question for many.

Local artist Kenny Wong Chi-chuen addresses this perplexing issue in his multimedia art project Dist, featured in an ongoing joint exhibition, The Interstitial, with new media artist Alan Kwan Tsz-wai at the Pearl Lam Galleries in Central.

Dist (2016) is a mathematical or programming terminology for distance calculation. Wong regards this as the perfect reflection of the bewilderment that is encountered in a relationship.

"I believe that every individual has his or her own rhythm in life. When two people get along well, the rhythm gets synchronized, but it also gets out of sync at times. It explains why we feel so close, yet we drift apart at the same time. There are just too many variables that you have to compromise for a relationship to work," said the 29-year-old.

In Wong's Dist.solo, a video monitor, which hangs from the ceiling, swings and draws people's attention as it showcases a close-up clip of a woman's face or parts of it.

The installation is controlled by an electronic pendulum, which swings randomly for the view of the eyes, nose and lips.

Wong said that a simple blink or a peck on the lips sends different signals that affect one's emotions. "The triangular formation and composition of the art work is like a weighing scale which also advises us to look for balance in a relationship. Sometimes, taking a step back is the best way to keep it longer," he added.

Also featured in the same series is Dist.intervene, which invites viewers to be an intruder in a relationship. The video is only revealed when the hand moves the monitor for a peek of intimacy.

A graduate of City University's School of Creative Media in 2011, Wong has solid grounding in video- making and digital presentation. It definitely makes sense for him to create art works using different technological devices and cross-platform media.

"When you are born in an era when technology is inseparable from our daily lives, it is natural for me to experiment with art using different mediums. It is a way to discover chances and possibilities," he said.

The Last Walk on Thirteen Streets (2016) is another work Wong values.

In it, he placed four customized kinetic LCD panels that incline randomly on the stairs to show a man appearing to walk down in an endless loop.

He said that this particular art work came to mind while he was in Canada and taking a master of fine arts degree in sculpture at Concordia University a year ago. "Leaving Hong Kong aroused different kinds of emotions," he said. "I always wanted to go overseas, but I never knew that I would feel so homesick. I missed the people and language here. The change of environment inspired me to rethink my identity, my home and where I came from."

His work also echoes to a great extent the exhibition's name - interstitial refers to spaces between different objects. Its depiction of reality and dreams finds common ground with Kwan, who also graduated from City University's School of Creative Media.

Kwan's works leave a deep impression as they express the personal thoughts of the 26-year-old artist.

The List (2008) is a video work that served as the artist's note when he contemplated suicide when he was 18.

He thought of suicide and death due to extreme frustration with his high school grades and soured personal relationships. He listed the names of the women he loved, documenting his bitterness.

The Hallway (2016) is an interactive, single-player video game inspired by the artist's experience when his father kicked him out of the family home as punishment even though he was just five years old.

The vivid depiction of dark and maze-like hallways touches your nerves and gives viewers a sense of getting trapped in the same place no matter which door is chosen to try and break free.

The exhibition runs until September 15.

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