"Door Games Window Frames: Near Drama" at "Hong Kong – Tales of the City" with webinar participation in a moderated seminar

Research output: Creative and Literary Works in Non-textual Form (RGC: 42, 43, 44, 46, 47)44_Performance and participation in exhibits

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020


TitleHong Kong – Tales of the City
LocationDenny Dimin Gallery
PlaceUnited States
CityNew York
Period13 March - 18 April 2020


The named video, 11m35s single-channel video, was selected to show the gallery visitors in the US the diversity of what could amount of a tale of the Hong Kong city. One of 8 works in the showcase (1990-2019), my work stands in for videography premised on digital algorithm, as well as the assertion of popular culture as worthy raw material to tell the past of a place. I was also invited to be part of a panel discussion on the second day of the opening, hosted by art critic and historian Barbara Pollack.

"Door Games Window Frames" is a single-channel, 3-window combinatorial drama. The work deploys a database of about 500 movie clips extracted from eleven Cantonese thrillers and melodramas from the early 1960s in Hong Kong. Exploring the mannerism and formulaic structures of such films, Lai discovered a key feature – the frequent use of the opening and closing of doors to introduce a scene, and the use of windows to highlight emotively charged moments in melodrama. The artist extracted the 500 clips with the following interest: (1) door and window shots from the films, (2) the performance of the male protagonists -- mainly 2 actors -- in scenes with doors and windows, (3) the close-up shots of the facial expressions of female protagonists in the films, (4) close-up shots of everyday objects, and (5) outdoor scenes that contain views of urban Hong Kong. Whereas the first three criteria set up the artist’s analytical-visual studies of the genre characteristics of these films, the latter two criteria form the anthropological-ethnographic objectives of this project, acknowledging photography and cinema’s intrinsic power to preserve the looks and appearances of material existence from the past.

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