MTR West Kowloon Terminus Public Art

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The Art in Architecture programme for the Hong Kong High Speed Rail Station marked significant change embracing non-traditional public artist of the art project. The challenge of this curatorial project drawn in the complex infrastructure, circulatory connections, and spatial design. The construction sits next to the future development of the arts hub in Hong Kong.

The curator was nominated and selected among the public art committee appointed by the MTR management to identified to curator Hong Kong’s first railway station and significant public art programme. The appointed curator selected among over 20 nominated curators, mainly art curators worked in existing gallery or museum, my proposal reflected in the perspective remains one of the most unique and indelible experiments, both as an artist and architect, in the significant topic of infrastructure arts.

The project situated in the ever expanding China’s railway station and airport project. The role of the public art is given another dimension, in these capital development project. In addition to symbolizing a place, the work now serves the traveller—welcoming, grounding, or inspiring them. As passengers do look up from the busy activity of a trip, thoughtfully curated artworks can be humanizing reminders.

To encourage the growth and continuation of these programs, my project gather to support the creation and growth of art programs in transportation facilities around the world. It inspired for best practices, experiments and experiences, the members of the field can bolster their existing programs in many of the transportation hubs.

Sounding Architecture

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Sound may be invisible, but it is no less an architectural material than wood, glass, concrete or light. It is shaped and contained by design. By the same token, sound describes an environment—be it an open space, enclosed area or dedicated building. To help our students and the community at large become aware of the limited dialogue on the subject of sound and space, Sounding Architecture critically and creatively examines the liminal space where architecture, sound, and music overlap.

Presently, sound is rarely considered in design practice except for concert halls or lecture rooms (this is the domain of sound engineers or acousticians). Anyone who has heard a piece of music in a space can learn to be sensitive to the fact that the architecture is a contributing factor to the acoustics and, therefore, the sonic fabric of the music as it unfolds in a space. This is fine, but it does not address the fact that the built environment is ostensibly an instrument under all sonic conditions—anywhere, anytime.

Hong Kong also inspired us to revisit Cage’s work critically. The extreme forms which the built environment takes here in Hong Kong compels us to rethink of architecture as shaping the soundscape in a dramatic, even harmful way. Think of the density of the urban grid, the tunnels of sound that run through the city, or the pervasiveness of construction sites. These characteristics of the city determine its soundscape and require new forms of investigation informed by the expertise of musicians and sound experts as well as new types of architectural practice to counter. In building the basis for such a practice, the aims to not only sensitise the audience to the mutual implication of sound and the built environment, but also offers new ideas to professionals and policymakers as they address the question of a “sound” built environment.

Cloud of Unknowing: A City with Seven Streets

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Cloud of Unknowing: A City with Seven Streets (2014) is a key exhibition organized by the museum in conjunction with the city government’s celebration for the 130th Anniversary of Taipei’s Founding in 2014. Because this marks the first time for the museum to present a themed exhibition on the subject of urban spatiality and issues pertainace, therefore, two important scholars from Taiwan and Hong Kong specializing in spatial discourses are invited as co-curators, and they are: Professor Thomas TSANG from the University of Hong Kong and Professor Ching Yueh ROAN from Taiwan’s Yuan Ze University. The exhibition includes 25 important artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Japan, whose artistic focuses are on spatial contents, location-specific memories, and habitation relationships, with many new site-specific artworks to be presented.

The central theme of the exhibition deals with the multiple angles observed in today’s society, and by forgoing urban psychical structures and architectures, the focus is placed on examining the cultural elements and historical contexts contained in a city’s composition, and to closely investigate the interconnected links and implications that have evolved and been derived from urban spaces and cultural memories. Moreover, the exhibition further attempts to think outside of the box from the museum’s conventional approaches and habits with its venue, and from which, the third-floor tube-shaped space is transformed to simulate a cityscape containing seven streets. From the artists’ spatial interpretations and transformations, the core subjectivity of the city in the modern life is reexamined, and through the distinctive features expressed through the various media of sounds, installations, constructions, images, manuscripts, and objects, the audience is guided to observe the interdependent contraposition between the architectural space and the body’s memory in the chaotic and vague modern city, where elusion and reality are intermixed.

Unbuilt Drawing

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The Unbuilt Drawing (2016- ) frame the intention of ‘undoing’ in relation to communities of practice and discourse with common approaches and language in architectural drawing. Formations of words with ‘un’ and other similar negative prefixes indicate oppositional, critical and challenging actions. The found commonalities of meaning between the practice and discourse of art and the practice and discourse of architecture, the field of fashion yielded a different set of meanings when this approach was taken in the drawing. By referencing and working with other fields; distinct and potential ways to subvert actions, methods, and modes of fashion practice can be more acutely revealed. This becomes a fundamental way to critique and reflect on the representation of architectural drawing; through the use of provocative strategies that are practiced within fields such as art.

The act of digitalization: capturing and recording a frame of analog drawing and viewing it on a screen, preserves the quality of the drawing at the moment it was captured. By capturing the series of drawings, allows one to reflect on their drawing process, the transformation of the drawing can be reviewed.

The conception of drawing has been dramatically reconfigured by the arrival of digital media. Drawings are not simply one fixed frame but constantly transforming and unfolding, revealing and inspiring ideas. During the creation of the Unbuilt Drawing, we draw and think, regularly reviewing what comes before the current drawing, and adjusting what comes after it. Many drawings are suspended from time, unanchored from the particular fixed image, it brings freedom and improvisation, that one which not only holds an important part of the gives the drawing rhythm and tempo, in which provides an additional layer of information of the drawing. Combining with sound, we are able to see the music, or listen to the drawing, in the understanding of drawing and building.

 

Sounding Architecture

Principal Investigator: Thomas TSANG
Funding body: Mellon Visiting Artist Residency at Wellesley College

Abstract

Sound and Space. Architecture and Music. Building as Instrument. This project aims to exchange knowledge between the Department of Architecture and the Department of Music in the design and production of new musical instruments as inspired by the theory and practice of architectural furniture; and to offer the public a different experience of musical performance and the utilization of objects.

Aeolus is inspired by the epic meeting between Odysseus and Aeolus, the keeper of the winds in Homer’s Odyssey who lives on a floating island in the sea. The opera reimagines these mythic personalities through a series of abstract performance diptychs pitting Keno Ueno’s extended vocal techniques (as Aeolus) against Majel Connery’s fluid, lyrical mode (as Odysseus). Thomas Tsang’s fluid, mobile scenic design evokes the features of Aeolus’s windswept island. Robert Hass’s libretto features the voice of the author and consists of haiku-like bridging texts, meditations on the connection of breath to body and to death.

“Aeolus” (formerly “Hong Kong Graft”) is the second opera by Rome- and Berlin-Prize winning composer/performer, Ken Ueno, and is written in conjunction with librettist Robert Hass (2008 Pulizer Prize and 1995-97 U.S. poet laureate), architect Thomas Tsang, and vocalist Majel Connery. Originally commissioned by Opera Cabal, the first module of “Aeolus” was workshopped during a residency at High Concept Laboratories/Mana Contemporary (Chicago) in April 2015.

Objectives

Working in bold, experimental paradigms, on the possibilities and limitations of real-time collaborative work, and the pragmatics of developing performance with stakes in the professional art world. Exploring topics on artistic that include 21st-century opera; modern experimental vocal and compositional techniques; site-specific fabrication in modern architecture; sound/space installation; political art in China since 1997; and the collaborative artistic process in multimedia.

Results

A music preview of the entire opera will be presented at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston) with string ensemble A Far Cry on April 20, 2017.

Outputs

  • Ken Ueno, Majel Connery, Thomas Tsang, a residency and performance at High Concept Laboratories/Mana Contemporary (Chicago) in April 2015.
  • Ken Ueno, Majel Connery & Thomas Tsang, a residency and performance at High Concept Laboratories/Mana Contemporary (Chicago) in April 2015.
  • Thomas Tsang, Jose Vicente Neglia, Deborah Waugh. Sounding Architecture. HKU Interdisclipinary Knowledge Exchange Fund. Submitted April 2016.
  • Thomas Tsang. Sounding Architecture. HKU Experiential Learning Fund. Submitted May 2016.

Anticipated Impact
Newhouse Center at Wellesley College (Spring 2017)

  • Dialogue/Symposium with Wellesley College community:
    • Topic: new directions in multimedia and interdisciplinary art. With guest artists Ken Ueno, Majel Connery & Thomas Tsang, moderated by Martin Brody with Jenny Johnson, Daniela Rivera, Andrew Mowbray (TBD) and Nick Knouf (TBD).
  • Dialogue/Symposium with Welleslley College community:
    • Topic: experimental vocal techniques in 21st-century music and theater. With guest artists Majel Connery and Ken Ueno, moderated by Diego Arciniegas (TBD) with Jenny Johnson and Martin Brody.
  • Dialogue/Symposium with Wellesley College community:
    • Topic: Chinese art and politics in the wake of the 1997. A conversation with guest artist Thomas Tsang moderated by Heping Liu, with Mingwei Song (TBD) and Bill Joseph

BUILDING | EXHIBITING | CURATING ARCHITECTURE

Principal Investigator: Thomas TSANG
Funding body: Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan

Abstract

Cloud of Unknowing: A City with Seven Streets is a key exhibition organized by the museum in conjunction with the city government’s celebration for the 130th Anniversary of Taipei’s Founding in 2014. Because this marks the first time for the museum to present a themed exhibition on the subject of urban spatiality and issues pertaining to space, therefore, two important scholars from Taiwan and Hong Kong specializing in spatial discourses are invited as co-curators, and they are: Professor Thomas Tsang from the University of Hong Kong and Professor Ching Yueh Roan from Taiwan’s Yuan Ze University. The exhibition includes 25 important artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Japan, whose artistic focuses are on spatial contents, location-specific memories, and habitation relationships, with many new site-specific artworks to be presented.

The central theme of the exhibition deals with the multiple angles observed in today’s society, and by forgoing urban psychical structures and architectures, the focus is placed on examining the cultural elements and historical contexts contained in a city’s composition, and to closely investigate the interconnected links and implications that have evolved and been derived from urban spaces and cultural memories. Moreover, the exhibition further attempts to think outside of the box from the museum’s conventional approaches and habits with its venue, and from which, the third floor tube-shaped space is transformed to simulate a cityscape containing seven streets.

Objectives

From the artists’ spatial interpretations and transformations, the core subjectivity of the city in the modern life is reexamined, and through the distinctive features expressed through the various media of sounds, installations, constructions, images, manuscripts, and objects, the audience is guided to observe the interdependent contraposition between the architectural space and the body’s memory in the chaotic and vague modern city, where elusion and reality are intermixed.

Results

A music preview of the entire opera will be presented at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston) with string ensemble A Far Cry on April 20, 2017.

Outputs

  • Roan Ching-Yueh, Thomas Tsang, curator of exhibition, at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.
  • Hong Kong! Hong Kong! Organized and moderated by Roan Ching-Yueh and Thomas Tsang at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 19 July, 2014.
  • Utopia-City Forum. Organized and moderated by Roan Ching-Yueh and Thomas Tsang at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 05 May, 2014.
  • Organized and moderated by Roan Ching-Yueh and Thomas Tsang at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 31 May, 2014.

Anticipated Impact

  • CHINA TIMES 2014. “Top Ten Public Exhibition for 2014 in Taiwan,” Voted #5 for 2014. “Cloud of Unknowing: A City with Seven Street,” Regional, Taiwan.
  • TAISHIN ARTS AWARD FOR VISUAL ARTS
    Nominee for Visual Arts Award, “Cloud of Unknowing: A City with Seven Street,”
    13th (2014) Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture, Regional, 2014, Taiwan.