Hong Kong artist Hung Keung’s digital art in a “yellow box” – Schoeni video interview



Hung Keung adds his viewpoint to the East versus West debate.

In an eleven-minute video interview produced by Schoeni Art Gallery, Hung Keung, a Hong Kong new media artist, scholar and researcher, talks about his interests and explorations into the possibilities of digital art in a “yellow box”, where art discourse in Asia would not have to conform to concepts that originated in the West.

Hung Keung interacts with 'Bloated City | Skinny Language' (2006-2008). Image courtesy the artist.

Hung Keung interacts with ‘Bloated City | Skinny Language’ (2006-2008). Image courtesy the artist.

The video was produced in December 2012 as part of a series of artist interviews filmed by Hong Kong-based Schoeni Art Gallery in celebration of their twentieth anniversary. Watch the full interview below.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

Media art in a “yellow box”

Born in China in 1970, Hung Keung has been living in Hong Kong since he was three. He is, however, no stranger to Western art philosophies and concepts. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the Chinese University in Hong Kong in 1995, he obtained his M.A. in Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, the United Kingdom in 1997 and was Visiting Scholar at the Center for Art and Media in Germany between 2001 and 2002.

Keung shares his observations in the video,

There are different approaches … such as the concepts Westerners hold towards images, the way they present images and their constant enthusiasm and exploration in different “platforms”. All these aspects influence the way they deal with digital media and how to move forward. However, such an approach is not very common in Asia. We look at art from a philosophical, social or functional aspect.

Hung Keung, 'Eating Noodle', 2007-2013, 2" (on loop), HD Digital Video 1920 x 1080, Edition of 5. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

Hung Keung, ‘Eating Noodle’, 2007-2013, 2″ (on loop), HD Digital Video 1920 x 1080, edition of 5. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

With his past works, notably Bloated City – Skinny Language and Dao Gives Birth to One, being widely exhibited overseas, Hung often talks about building a bridge between Chinese mentality and Western thinking. For him, interacting movements of the human body with floating Chinese characters on a human-scale sized screen, which enables viewers to have a bodily experience with the work, is an attempt to present an essence of Chinese philosophy.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

Hung believes that the meaning of Chinese characters is so deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy that to understand them, one needs to begin with the mentality of how these characters are used in terms of space and time. As Hung mentions in a 2011 interview with Art Radar, he believes that through these demonstrations, “People from overseas [have] become interested in [his work], … and also with Chinese philosophy.”

Hung Keung, 'Dao Gives Birth to One (Version II'), 2010, video format: digital, full HD 1080 x 1920, exhibition format; 6-12 monitors/projection version, length: 20 minutes looping, sound: stereo x 12 channels, exhibition venue: Hong Kong Museum of Art. Image courtesy the artist.

Hung Keung, ‘Dao Gives Birth to One (Version II)’, 2010, video format: digital, full HD 1080 x 1920, exhibition format; 6-12 monitors/projection version, length: 20 minutes looping, sound: stereo x 12 channels, exhibition venue: Hong Kong Museum of Art. Image courtesy the artist.

Yet Hung still feels that the exhibition methods in the West do not fit Chinese art forms due to the different philosophies regarding presentation, exhibition and appreciation. He speaks of this discourse in the video interview,

There was a moment when I thought we could re-consider this subject from an Eastern perspective. How would we interpret it? How would we approach the issue?

Constantly questioning these issues, Hung is fond of the alternative concept of a “yellow box”, which he explains in the video,

Some scholars introduced the concept of “yellow box”. In the West, there are the concepts of “white cube” or “black box” for art exhibitions. Considering the long history of Chinese creative arts, scholars think that a “yellow box” is a better alternative to a “white cube” or a “black box” for the presentation of Chinese art.

Inspired by this school of thought, Hung is “interested in exploring the possibilities of digital art in a ‘yellow box’. This is no longer about comparing ourselves to others. It is about our new creations in Asia”.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

Hung Keung, 'Sloping - Divided Mind', 2012, Video Installation. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

Hung Keung, ‘Sloping – Divided Mind’, 2012, video installation. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

Development of new media art in Hong Kong, Asia

As a Hong Kong new media artist, Hung closely observes developments in the  digital world in China and Asia. Confident in its rapid growth in the continent, he prefers not to compare art from different localities and would rather work towards a new direction.

In the past five years [in Asia], the terms used to describe digital media, the artists and also the exhibitions have witnessed a tremendous growth in numbers. Therefore, there is no need to compare with the West. I prefer to look forward to the future, to the different things that are going to happen.

 

It is very difficult to compare Hong Kong artists with those from Mainland China…. It is very difficult to compare artistic creativity. It is actually very similar to comparing the development of new media in the West with the East, which both have different starting points.

However, talking about the Schoeni Art Gallery anniversary exhibition, where he was able to exhibit with emerging and established artists working across many fields from China and Hong Kong, he feels that the exposure to variety is positive for Hong Kong art.

This kind of harmony is, I think, what Hong Kong needs instead of isolation.

In May 2013, Schoeni Art Gallery will hold the first retrospective exhibition of Hung Keung, entitled “Transmigration: from Single to Multiple Screens“, in conjunction with his solo representation by the gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong. The show will feature five of Hung’s most acclaimed short video works between 1997 and 2007, which have all been  reworked for the purpose of the exhibition.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

Hung Keung, 'Microcosmic Play and Appreciation', 2012, Interactive Video. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

Hung Keung, ‘Microcosmic Play and Appreciation’, 2012, interactive video. Image courtesy Schoeni Art Gallery.

More on Hung Keung

Hung Keung has participated in guest lectures locally and overseas and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Planetary Collegium at the University of the Arts in Zurich, Switzerland. He founded innov + media lab (imhk) in 2005, which focuses on new media art and design research in relation to Chinese philosophy and interactivity.

In recent years, Hung has participated in many festivals and exhibitions throughout the world. His awards and accolades include

  • Best Short Ambient Video Award at the BBC British Film Festival (1998)
  • Best of EMAF at the European Media Art Festival Germany (1998)
  • Winner of the Prize of Excellence at the Hong Kong Arts Biennial (2001)
  • Honorable Mention (New Media) in the 7th International Festival of New Film & Video, Croatia (2002)
  • Special Mention Interactive CDROM Award at e-phos, The 3rd International Festival of Film & New Media on Art held in Athens, Greece (2002)
  • Achievement Award as part of the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards (2009–2010)
This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar, too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

AHS/KN/HH

Related Topics: Hung Keung, Hong Kong artists, video art

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