Weaving Time: An Experience of Then and Now

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 December, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre

Weaving Time is a small show of new media work by Sala Wong and Peter Williams, two assistant professors from art schools in Indiana. It purports to explore notions of memory, history and place as shaped by digital media. And it offers ample proof that an academic understanding of art and a compelling artistic vision can exist in perfect mutual exclusion.

The show's biggest flaw is that it largely takes the form of a documentary: in the first room we are offered tedious filmed accounts of how Wong and Williams put together 10 of their works. This might be an interesting diversion if one had seen the finished works, but as they're not on show it's a self-indulgent bore, with laborious explanations of what it is that the pair are trying to achieve merely adding to the artistic onanism.

In Photocycles, Williams attaches a video camera to the handlebars of a bicycle and rides around his campus filming. The result is wobbly in every sense. Wong's Persistence of Absence projects video footage onto a violinist playing on an empty rooftop. The irony that no one is listening seems wholly lost on her.

Talk ... the ... line #2: Hong Kong, comprising a screen onto which are projected a few black dots with sound from a news report on the city's handover to China, is marginally more interesting, but mainly because it recalls the sense of anxiety that many locals felt at that time rather than any artistic merit.

The way that many Hongkongers bolt for gallery doors after only the briefest glance around the walls often makes me despair. But looking about Weaving Time, I wanted to join them.

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