Hong Kong's Urban 'Non-Spaces' Inspire Striking Video Art

Portuguese artist João Vasco Paiva transforms ordinary Hong Kong surroundings into abstract graphic displays.

Sometimes putting yourself in an unfamiliar place can help you observe and experience the world in an unexpected way. Such is the case of Portuguese artist João Vasco Paiva, who’s been living in Hong Kong since 2006. Though the language barrier limits his interaction with locals, his work incorporates the complexity of the urban situation, as well as information shaped by the sociopolitical factors he observes. Paiva then translates this abstract information into aesthetically unified, yet minimal, videos and installations.

SEE MORE FROM

Living on a quiet island off the coast of Hong Kong Island, Paiva commutes back and forth between his home and the densely populated city via ferry and subway every day. The observations he gathers as an outsider are ingrained in his work, as he looks to transform mundane phenomena in “non-spaces” (places without true cultural context, like airports, subway stations, and hotels) into visual and sonic interpretations that one can appreciate in a gallery context.

Subway Turnstiles in Palimseptic (2011)

This creative approach is demonstrated in Paiva’s latest solo show Palimseptic, which has recreated a busy Hong Kong subway station completed with five turnstiles, traveler information diagrams, maps, and signs. Organized in the gallery space, all text on the visuals has been removed to show only the minimalist graphic properties. The turnstiles are programmed to spin according to the number of daily users passing through, creating clicking sounds and movements as if phantoms were entering and exiting the room. A video nearby displays the throngs of subway commuters as blocks of negative colored forms moving scrolling from top to bottom on the screen. Through extraction and abstraction, Palimseptic effectively magnifies the minimalist beauty of an everyday experience.

Subway information board removed of all text in Palimseptic (2011)

Subway information board removed of all text in Palimseptic (2011)

Aside from Chinese urban landscape and lifestyle, Paiva takes inspiration from nature’s patterns and behaviors. His interactive sound installation Chirp (exhibited at The Creators Project: Beijing 2010) and his generative video series Traces, shown at The Creators Project: Beijing 2011, use a wide range of media to interpret his subjects from a completely different perspective, creating unique experiences for viewers.

Chirp (2010)

Traces (2011)

Images courtesy of João Vasco Paiva and Saamlung Gallery.

This post also appears on The Creators Project, an Atlantic partner site. 

The Creators Project, a partnership between Intel and VICE, supports artists across a range of disciplines who are using technology in innovative ways to push the boundaries of creative expression. More


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Video

Just In