Creative forces: Hong Kong's emerging talent

John Batten

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 10:11pm

Otto Li Tin-lun has spent seven years immersed in a virtual world as a digital animation designer. The time has only increased his interest in its opposite: physical forms of representation. This was initially expressed in his attempts to translate the basic blocks of digital imagery - pixilated cubes of colour - into a sculptural form.

Since graduating in fine arts from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and completing a master's in fine arts in 2012, Li's "pixel" sculptures have become increasingly challenging. His early efforts used blocks of different coloured wood. These "building blocks" were arranged like a topographical model of peaks and valleys but giving a pixel-like affected image. Initially, the structures were simple, replicating a photograph or computer screen shot three-dimensionally.

But, over time, Li's sculptures have become more intricate, their designs requiring computer modelling software and careful assembly. He has used this building block form to represent sound. Li's pixel construct of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony shows an uncanny physical resemblance to the music's aural qualities.

Li's most recent sculptures experiment with the use of positive and negative space. Parking 12 Contours, seen at Hong Kong ArtWalk, is a sculpture of a motorcycle, but executed as a complex abstract idea. Li's unique rendition is achieved by placing a series of clear perspex slices upright on a brightly lit light-box base, which catch the outline of the motorbike's detailing. Seen from the side - negative - view, only the perspex cross-sectioned slices are visible; seen from the full-front (positive) view the motorcycle becomes apparent.

This "cross-sectioned" approach to sculpture has also been used to present head busts - notably of the artist himself and his wife. Executed in laser-cut sectioned plastic, these busts have a photogenic and uncomfortable cyber-accuracy.

Li's approach to art is not solely serious. His love of football has produced a series of artworks devoted to the game. His large absurdist goal-in-three-corners soccer pitch was installed in a mall for shoppers to play on. His interest in body movement renders in painted depictions of Italy shaped as a striker's leg kicking a football.

A small survey exhibition of this hard-working artist runs from June 6 to 26 at EC Gallery in Hollywood Road.