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Art review: Artists discuss video art in the 90s at Art Basel

Technological improvements gave way to video art in the 1990s, and serve as the new gateway to film and new media art forms. "[After] the post-film period [and entering] into the period in which video was more easily accessible in terms of equipment, what became important [for the development of video art] was the fact that video cameras became cheaper," she said. "The Final Cut Pro was a very important element that any artist could have just as one had tubes of oil paint," Ms. Malani, whose work expanded from the realms of painting to film and video since the 1990s, added. Final Cut Pro is a video editing software released by Apple in the early 1990s that is packed with features such as colour correction, sound mixing and special effects. Priced at a mere US $1000, the programme was significantly cheaper than those released by the film industry's then superpower, Avid, whose systems ranged in prices from US $50,000 to $100,000. "My idea for making video art was because the language of the moving image is much better understood. Montage is very quickly understood by an Indian public because they are used to seeing it in advertisements, television and all of that," she said. The emergence of video arts in Asia during the 1990s was attributed to technology and culture, Zhang Peili, a Chinese contemporary artist and the Director of the Embodied Media Studio at the School of Intermedia in Hangzhou, China said. "Technology is being imported to China and is known by the people in China and used here. On the other hand, people's awareness of arts and culture changed. And because of that, they would abstain from what they did before," he added, "That's how video art came into being." Barbara London, an American curator and founder …

Society & Politics

Art Review: The Stars Exhibition in Art Basel

This year, the 10th Chancery Lane Gallery especially displayed early artworks of a trio of avant-garde artists to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a historically important art event, which challenged official aesthetics and called for free artistic expression in the Post-Mao Era. Wandering at the colourful Art Basel, visitors could not help but slowed down their pace when a series of black and white photographic documentation came into sight. On an early morning in fall in 1979, the year after China initiated the economic reforms, a group of non-academy Chinese artists exhibited a total of 163 works with distinctive Modernist style and rebellious thoughts, displayed on the iron railings of The National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) after they were deprived the right to use an official exhibition space. Curators named exhibition with the word, Star, which means each star exists as an independent illuminator rather than the only illuminator during the Cultural Revolution when Mao Ze-dong was hailed as sun. This art exhibition without official permission gained huge supports from art students and famous artists at that time. On the following day of the opening, however, the police from the Dongcheng District of Beijing arrested two core curators, Huang Rui and Ma Deng-sheng, and acclaimed that The Star Exhibition affected the daily life of the masses and social order. After two months of demonstrations and negotiations, folk artists from The Stars Art Group eventually got legal permission to exhibit their artworks at the gallery of Beijing Artists Association, which attracted more than two hundred thousand audience. The second edition of The Stars Exhibition was successfully held in 1980, yet, it aroused the panic among senior figures of Chinese art field. An art exhibition jointly organized by Huang Rui, Ma Deng-sheng and Wang Ke-ping was banned due to the Anti-Spiritual-Pollution Campaign launched …

People

Weekend Review: Word art on signboards remains in Hong Kong

Two of our reporters join a signboards tour in San Po Kong and uncover the untold tale of a historical Chinese word font. Ever heard of the Chinese font Li Han Kong Kai ? Before it stepped foot into the world of typography, it was made up of 3600 Chinese word samples from Li Han, who used to be a signboard calligrapher before he retired. Those word samples were later passed down to his grandson Lee Kin-ming, who is continuing Mr.Li Han’s work in their family-run factory. "Signboards of large companies are everywhere and everyone can notice them,  but it is not the same for small shops' handmade signboards," said Mr. Lee Kin-ming, who holds regular guided tours in the weekends to introduce long-standing signboards in the city that are usually overlooked.  Compared to other old  districts such as Kwun Tong, most of the shops  in San Po Kong have a longer history so their signboards are still reserved, according to Mr. Lee in one of his guided tour held in the weekend before. He said signboards in Hong Kong are usually clear and visible from a distance. "Hong Kong shop keepers prefer grandeur fonts with thick strokes. For example, the Beiwei font looks  imposing since hooks inside the characters are relatively large," he said. Bone clinics and martial clubs usually use the Beiwei font for their  signboards, while the Clerical script font is for more artistic uses, he added.   For sign boards with  more complicated characters. Mr. Lee said  he uses rulers and French curves to draw curved alphabets such as the English letter "U" and for numbers,  he photocopies those on his calendar and follow them to draw. For example, the Biaukai font, of which strokes in words are usually separated,  has been disliked by many signboard …

People

Weekend Review: Post 90s woman writes to break social stigma

Comprised of stories shared by 29 individuals from the post 90s, Choy Po-yin talked about her book, Salt To The Sea: Interviews of The Post 90s’ Generation, in a sharing event organised by the Art and Culture Outreach in Lok Sin Tong Wong Chung Ming Secondary last Saturday. "Apart from writing a novel, I hold talks to discuss the topic [labelling the post 90s in society] with the public to change people's perception of the post 90s" explained to Choy Po-yin, writer of the book, Salt To The Sea: Interviews of The Post 90s" Generation. "I can feel that I [as part of the post 90s] carry a lot of labels, so I want to clear all of them," she said. There is a phenomenon in society that the post 90s, who value their opinions and embrace diversity, "are always on the frontline," she added. More people [those of the post 90s] has already met their basic living needs, so they turned to focus on other concerns, said Jacob, born in 1992 and was reluctant to reveal their full name, said.   "The post 90's may be satisfied with their material lives but  it does not fulfill their spiritual desires, so they are stepping up to pursue something more valuable, such as equality and justice," said Kilo, another interviewee born in 1994. Author Ms. Choy said various banners seen in Hong Kong's large-scale socio-political movements on issues including climate change and civic engagement have been demonstrating a society they [the post 90s] desire.

Society & Politics

Somewhere over the rainbow - How an 8-year-old boy experience China's education gulf

Every morning at 8:30, the muddy ocher-coloured cottage is blasted with young voices reading aloud textbook passages, so loud that it can be heard across the cement-levelled playground far from the school gate. There are three classrooms in the cottage with no lights but a rickety ceiling fan each. Drawings are repeatedly glued on and ripped off a section of the wall framed with red rice paper. On top, it wrote sloppily "In Celebration of the June First International Children's Day". This is where the eight-year-old Huang Wei-biao goes to school every day with his 22 young schoolmates, a village in the rural area of the East Guangxi province. The nearest town is 45 minutes of serpentine car ride away. One can tell Huang is a diligent student as he reads his textbook with his finger precisely pointing at each word when he pronounces it. One can tell Huang is an assiduous child as the veins of his neck appear every time he utters a word. One can tell Huang is an eager learner as each page of his textbook is torn and curled at the corners. Yet no matter how earnest or smart a student Huang is, he is just one the 13.8 million village primary students in China who are probably receiving education of lower quality than students who study in the urban parts of China. Village schools lack facilities and professionally trained teachers. Pupils do not have classes in other areas such as arts and physical education, let alone school outings. In comparison, the XinXing primary school in the same prefectural city has a multi-story building with a sports ground. There are more than 40 teachers and most of them have received tertiary education. Children's' parents can also find better working opportunities close by and not have …

People

Sugar blow your own figures

  • 2017-04-23

While the local craftmanship slowly dies out, a lady still refuses to let go of sugar-blowing, which is a part of many's childhood. Chung Choi Wan, 60, is one of the remaining three craftsmen in Hong Kong who knows how to blow sugar-coated figurine, also known as sugar- blown figure, classified as one of the Hong Kong's intangible cultural heritage according to the Hong Kong In- tangible Cultural Heritage Database. Making such figurine requires a high degree of patience and it is easy to fail during the making process. Until now, there isn't any license issued by the government to ensure the right of sugar-blowing hawkers, which becomes one of the potential obstacles for such craftsmanship to exists throughout the century, said Chung. Sugar-coated figurine have over 300 years of history and made of maltose that has been treated with secret formulas. Chung said that she could not reveal the special treatment for maltose as it can only pass on to her apprentice according to traditional rules. Craftsman can change maltose into different shapes by bare hands and using simple tools like toothpicks to carve out the pattern of animal fur. Chung can made maltose into animal shapes such as dolphin and swan. The technique of blowing a large ball shape from a droplet-like maltose is to blow it instantly when the maltose is still hot enough to change its shape. "When the maltose ball is in dumpling size, blow it slowly until it change to the size of an egg", said Chung. "Blowing ball, laughing more" is Chung's slogan, which also written in front of her movable cart. Spread- ing the joy around is why Chung starts to learn this traditional art. The colorful coatings of the figures can easily attract eyeballs. She recalled that once a four-person family …

People

The Man Dances with Fire and Knife

  • 2017-04-11

by Erica Chin and Kobie Li When we talk about circuses, what pops into your head? A large tent with red and yellow stripes? Or clowns who juggle? Although Hong Kong Circus has neither, Chris Leung, the chairman shows his passion for performing arts through fire knife dance. Unlike most of the circus performers, Chris knew nothing about the circus at his early age. "I had never imagined myself to be a performer when I was working as a dresser in the backstage," he said. Chris worked with his wife, Margaret, a dancer of the circus in the theme park. He had no idea to perform on the grand stage before his interest in fire knife dance sparked. The immense interest towards this mysterious and danger art is triggered after Chris watched fire knife dance performance by chance for the first time. "I was amazed by how they control fire, the so-called ‘symbol of danger', so smoothly and easily," he said. Chris then started to practice the dance by using artists' baton during spare and lunch time. Later, he went to Hawaii twice for competition and to learn fire knife dance from a Tahiti fire knife master, Joseph Cadousteau. The road for him to learn was not smooth at the beginning. Chris recalled that it's not easy for him to pick up a new skill at the age of 20. "Many people, even some of my family members said that I am too old for it and it is too dangerous to learn fire knife dance." However, the objection from parents did not discourage him. The scars on his body marked the hard work he paid to practices and the spirit of never give up. Things began to change after years of efforts, circus started to gain popularity. His family members …

People

Getting Away from Petty People

  • 2017-03-16

Did 2016 go well for you? If not, consider hiring a ‘petty person beater' to beat away the bad luck.

People

Local entrepreneur make taking nice profile-picture a business

  • 2016-12-15

Mandy Cheng presents new possibilities to a traditional market by Emily Xu The bustling Mong Kok district is a shopping paradise. Argyle Centre is one of the most popular shopping centres there. Among the array of shops lies a unique photo studio. Fresh Studio, famous for shooting good-looking profile pictures for your passport photos and icons, was opened recently by 28-year-old Ms Mandy Cheng Ming-wai. "Like many people, I find my passport photos ugly, which inspired me to open this shop," said Ms Cheng. Her studio provides all-in-one services including makeup, clothing, photography and editing. As an entrepreneur, she described herself as ambitious, cautious and organised. "I have been brainstorming to start my business for a long time and considered it as a necessity of my life," she said. Although she had the plan for a long time, she waited for a suitable time to open the shop. She spent hours preparing. "I think working for yourself can give you a great sense of achievement and it is everlasting. Moreover, I want a more challenging life," she said. However, the expensive rent in Hong Kong and the lack of sufficient deposit stopped her until Argyle Centre introduced its zero rental plan. The plan is designed for people with creative ideas and can rent a shop for three months without paying rent. Ms Cheng handed in her proposal in July. After a successful interview in early August, she resigned from her previous job. The shop was finally opened in late August. "Nearly all the customers have been satisfied with their photo," she added. "Although I am busier than before and have had little time to rest, I really enjoy the moments. I am getting a lot of satisfactions from my business." Ms Joanna Tsoi, a customer of Flash Studio, said her …

People

Beating all odds with positivity

  • 2016-11-11

The positive life led by the ordeal dealer by Celia Lai At the age of 67, Stephen Char Shik-ngor is still wearing different hats: a barrister at law, a mediator, a columnist. Straddling different fields, he is renowned for being an activist in the frontier of health protection. Having an abscess on his bottom lip because of sweltering, the grey-haired man laughed about his hectic but happy life. "I can take a break when I am taking the train," Mr Char said with a smile creasing his face. The wrinkles marked his ups and downs. Nicknamed the "expert of ordeals", he had experienced family loss, cancer and two divorces. However the misery in his life has never beaten him. "Life is a combination of sorrow and happiness. One has to accept the fact of life," he said. Liver cancer became a watershed in his life. In sight of no helping hand to turn to while he was suffering from the disease, the survivor set up the first organization for liver cancer sufferers in Hong Kong, during the year of 1994. Besides providing medical and spiritual support, the organization was running for liver transplants. He was crowned one of the top ten fighters of regeneration, for his contribution in 1998. For the sake of patients' rights, the cancer fighter even confronted the Hospital Authority (HA) himself, in 2003. To fight for the rights while minimising the adverse effects, Mr Char resigned from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), where he had worked for 28 years. He negotiated with an HA official who wanted to close down the liver transplant centre in Prince of Wales Hospital due to a fiscal deficit after SARS. "Meanwhile there was a generous businessman offering HKD$40 million to continue the transplant centre. Yet, HA asked me about …