Moving Images
Remake HK, Project Unlimited

In 1990, there was a Deep Dish TV series of five one-hour programs, "...will be televised: Video Documents From Asia,” curated and produced by Shu Lea Cheang. The program intended to reverse the usual flow of communication from America to the other, lesser-heard side of the globe, from “the developing countries to the developed metropolis.” The title of Hong Kong’s document, “Only Something That Is About To Disappear Becomes An Image,” was a line excerpted from an essay that later became a book, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance by Professor Ackbar Abbas. The series is probably one of the earliest creative video projects in Hong Kong art history. Most of the works were the outcome of a video workshop that had privileged access to selected films archived in the Government Information Service. Some footage dated back to the early 20th century, almost around the time movies were born. Filmmakers in those times were mostly in the military, journalists, or working with the church. Many images that captured the street life of Hong Kong in the last century were handheld and nostalgic. In the 1990 project, it was mainly the first generation of Hong Kong video artists—amateurs, non-journalists, the camcorder generation—who did the works. This video document is a landmark to announce the fading of the colonial age and entrance into the post-'97 era.

Andy, Nam June, and Me at the Zoo

Today, it’s funny to look back only five years at the first YouTube video, “Me at the Zoo” by Google co-founder Jawed Karim, and consider Andy Warhol’s cliched “15 minutes” in light of the Internet, YouTube and 21st century video art. As misguided as the concept unfortunately may be, fame is no longer relative to time and has rooted itself in the act of participation, sharing, and community. It is obvious today that Nam June Paik was correct in his prediction that something would happen to not only offer us access to millions of channels but to allow us to create, curate, and critique for a global critical mass that is interacting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Billions of ephemeral stars looking to connect with others with the slight, almost random chance of reaching a “too real to be true” state of popular acclaim.

On Access

Earlier this year I was invited by SAW Video to do research into their Public Domain project, in which seven artists were given access to copyright-free material (not limited to, but including film footage) from the collection of Library and Archives Canada in order to make new single-channel videos. The resulting videos premiered in June; some can be found on the Web and all will be released on a DVD with Creative Commons licenses later this year.

The Art of Platforms

As a consequence of their ease of use, and as a result of their mass popularity, Internet platforms have become the preeminent domain of and locus for the development of collective authorship. Their speed, ease, and omnipresence make them extremely well suited as a place for quickly launching ideas, responding to others, or adapting existing work and reusing it. A new generation of artists use platforms like YouTube to simultaneously work with others and create new works on the spot. A single idea, concept, or video gets transformed in different variations through easy online sharing—the comment being the essential element for continuous development. The artworks that arise from these collective processes lie in a continuum with other works, references, and commentaries, often leading to different versions and forms of one work.


I am sitting in Southend Central library, a minor classic of provincial Brutalist architecture by the southern English coast, watching a pop video from 1984 by Yello in a purpose-built screening room designed by the artist James Richards (who recently featured in the New Museum’s Younger Than Jesus exhibition).

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