One of Canada's original new media artists, Paul Wong continues to produce an astonishing amount of work forty years into his career. The accessibility of video in the 1970s made him an early champion of user-generated content, and it would now seem that the 21st Century has caught up to his vision of a world proliferated by self-representing media. His current solo exhibition at Winsor Gallery – a commercial gallery that has joined the Great Northern Way expansion of local art spaces – demonstrates his ongoing dedication to the ever-expanding medium of media art. By traversing social media tropes and collectively culled representations, these new works align with the artist's lifelong approach to image making.
Paul Wong, Solstice
#paulwong2014 includes 2013's Looking, Looping & Listening, a wall-to-wall installation of forty ten by twelve inch screens dominating the darkened exhibition space. Each screen flickers a glowing series of different animated GIFs (a one or two second moving image file on perpetual loop). The content varies from selfies to abstraction, blurring the shapes and patterns of capture and existence. As individual screens are placed in close proximity to each other, it is nearly impossible to focus for long on any single screen. Taking a step back, it becomes clear that the multitude of content viewed as a whole is meant to captivate our full attention.
Facing this work is Solstice: twenty-four hours time lapsed into a twenty-four-minute wall projection of an alleyway behind the Carnegie Community Centre in Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Bodies, garbage trucks, and buses pass by; sometimes people sit and lie down in this bustling urban zone. It demands your attention in a way that Looking, Looping & Listening cannot. Positioned more in the role of surveillance than expression, Solstice reflects a perpetual cycle of looking and looping, this time of social neglect that exists face to face with our seemingly self-obsessed rabbit holes of online presence.
Along with numerous other works, including new and old neon pieces with his signature and the hash tag appearing as white halos, Wong continues to navigate the sources of how information is generated, consumed, produced, and shared by the populace.
Winsor Gallery: http://www.winsorgallery.com/exhibits.php?event=wong14&page=1
Paul Wong: #PAULWONG14 continues until February 15.
Amy Fung is a writer and organizer who publishes nationally and internationally in journals, magazines, catalogues, and monographs in print and online. She is the Programs Manager at Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society and her ongoings can be found at POSTpacificPOST.com and on Twitter @anotheramyfung. She is Akimblog's Vancouver correspondent.
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