Illusions of home and hyper-capitalism behind technology, explored in show by Hong Kong artist who finally feels at home … in Finland

Illusions of home and hyper-capitalism behind technology, explored in show by Hong Kong artist who finally feels at home … in Finland

The context for Yiu’s exhibition Everything is a Projection is provided by a documentary-style film of the same name. In it, Yiu explains how it felt to rediscover the Japanese comic books of his childhood in Hong Kong during his first visit since the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hong Kong-born, Finland-based artist Sheung Yiu. Photo: Dan Court

They smelled of dampness and decay after being washed in his family’s storage unit on the rural island of Cheung Chau, an unsavory blight that was as much an olfactory trigger of childhood memories as that ever-present hint of Hong Kong sewage and fumes from antiquated ferries plying Victoria. The port, he says.

We are shown how Yiu tried to preserve one of his comic books using a 3D scanning method called photogrammetry – a painstaking process that nevertheless failed to capture the essence of a much-loved old book.

I want to create a spectacle for the most banal things

Sheung Yiu
As we watch a clip of tech giant Meta’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, in the joys of a virtual home, we’re left to wonder what else, apart from the aromas, the much-hyped paradise of the metaverse.
“Technological products like metaverse or non-exchangeable tokens they are all sold as ‘solutions’ and ‘innovations’ but in fact they are hyper-capitalist enterprises”, says the artist-researcher.

To reflect on what he sees as the marketing hype surrounding such products, his Light objects (2023) is a set of animated replicas of mundane objects that attract attention only because they are projected onto hologram fans.

Two examples of Sheung Yiu’s light objects (2023). The artist has created animations of ordinary objects and projected them onto hologram fans as part of his solo exhibition in Hong Kong, called “Everything is a Projection”. Photo: Enid Tsui

“I like that they’re worthless things, like a used fizzy wine cork and a computer mouse. I want to create a spectacle for the most banal things,” he says.

The replica of his desk, with all the objects left on it, is also flawed, like the virtual copy of the comic book.

It’s all white, for one thing. 3D printing process losing all surface detail. There are also loopholes, as the scanning process is not perfect.
Desktop (altered) (2024), a 3D printed replica of his home workstation in Helsinki by Sheung Yiu. Photo: Enid Tsui

How much for Memory/Data (2023), the glass cabinet with scented wax blocks custom-made by Hong Kong company BeCandle, the effect is not what Yiu hoped for.

He had created a smell that resembled old books, he thought. But visitors seem to come with completely different associations.

“I thought the work would add a new dimension of home to the show; it doesn’t necessarily end up that way,” he says.

Memory/ Data (2023), by Sheung Yiu, includes custom-made candles that he intended to evoke the smell of a musty, damp room. The surrounding LED panels display the phrase “If light gives us knowledge, bacteria gives us memory.” Photo: Enid Tsui

The show, curated by Koon Yeewan, head of the art history department at the University of Hong Kong, who first met Yiu in Helsinki in 2021, might seem to suggest that the house cannot be easily anchored, its essentials are connected to a real place.

But Yiu explains that while he’s skeptical of technology’s ability to provide us with a home, he’s not convinced by a particular notion of “home” either.

The 32-year-old computer-generated imaging PhD student at Helsinki’s Aalto University left Hong Kong in 2017 to seek a different way of life and has found that he is better suited to the culture and lifestyle of Finland than that of his country. of birth.

We can no longer assume that an image is being taken by one person using a single camera lens

Sheung Yiu

“My relationship with Hong Kong is complicated. I grew up never wanting to join the rat race. I have never adjusted to ordinary Hong Kong. I’ve always wanted to leave and see if somewhere else is a better fit.

“As half a ‘digital native’, I’m of a generation whose idea of ​​home is much more flexible anyway,” he says.

Instead, he hopes the show brings out how technology is forcing us to consider “home” and the world around us from multiple perspectives.

“Like the 3D printed table, computational digital images are created from sets of data. We can no longer assume that an image is being taken by one person using a single camera lens. We need to understand the processes to understand what the images are saying,” Yiu says.

“Everything is a Projection”, WMA Space, 8/F Chun Wo Shopping Centre, 23-29 Wing Wo Street, Central, Tue-Sun, 12pm-7pm. Until March 31.

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