Saturday, 28 May 2016

Moving Art Installation

Our tram for the next 25 minutes or so, with the upstairs covered up
This afternoon I had a chance to see some art on a tram.

Called Twenty five Minutes Older, not much is told ahead of time, except that visitors can either take the tram from Sheung Wan to Causeway Bay or from Causeway Bay to Sheung Wan, a ride that takes approximately 25 minutes.

Although almost all the free tickets were snapped up, the artist, Kingsley Ng let me ride at one of the times with fewer people, which happened to be today at 4.20pm.

Kingsley Ng explaining the proceedings
However, when I got there, the tram was experiencing delays thanks to the rainy weather and so I and about 10 other people waited patiently under cover.

From the outside, the tram looks like any other, but the upstairs is covered up. We entered the ground floor, and Ng was there explaining the situation: When we went upstairs, it would be very dark, and no photography, mobile phones or flash were allowed at all. The actual piece would be about 15 minutes long and we would arrive at Wan Chai or Causeway Bay.

Then we were each handed a pair of headphones, that at first had sounds of ocean waves. Then we went upstairs and saw the windows were covered up and almost all the seats were taken out; there were some cushions on the floor so I sat down on one of them. When we settled in, the lights went out and a series of phrases were projected in Chinese and English, while music played in the background.

We then started to see a view of Central and I recognized the shops as we went by, but they were upside down and in black and white. What was going on?

Periodically we'd hear a woman's voice speaking poetic phrases that didn't seem to add up to much, but I was more entranced by the images we were seeing in front of us.

Looking through the pinhole camera on the tram
When the lights finally went up, Ng explained the images we saw were in real time, projected from a camera obscura that was actually right next to me. He wanted to show that things we see are fleeting -- that we cannot record them because they are gone.

Perhaps it was a message to tell us to stop and metaphorically smell the roses, to not always focus on capturing things for posterity, but to remember the moment.

Our trip ended in Wan Chai and the rain was coming down in buckets.

Twenty five Minutes Older is running until June 2, as part of "The 5th Large-Scale Public Media Art Exhibition: Human Vibration", presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

Another work that was part of this show was the large light installation on ICC that got yanked after the ADC claimed the two artists changed the title of the work without consulting it or the curator.

One of the panels adding context to Ng's tram installation
But many believe it was turned off because the pair explained after the work was launched, that the large number on the ICC was actually the number of seconds counting down to July 1, 2047, when "one country, two systems" ends.

While watching the seconds countdown was daunting, being in the tram with a few people and experiencing the same thing was a memorable and intimate way to experience art -- moving art -- that also made you think about how we spend our time, and that it that will never come back.

Twenty five Minutes Older by Kingsley Ng

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