HAPPENINGText: Samantha Culp

The video feels a bit dated today, with its obvious early-90s excitement at using bright distortions and pastel effects, as well as the constant super-imposition of small video or still-image boxes floating around on the frame. The theme of “patience” becomes very real to the audience as we are challenged to sit through long, boring shots of Law or other collaborators in home settings, sitting in front of the camera eating slowly as they turn different shades of pink or overexposed purple.

Matching 4 with 12 – Mapping Vapour (2002)

We finally become grateful for the little video boxes of video sailing over the screen, as they offer some seemingly-unconnected but far more interesting content: ocean swells; city streets; shirtless Chinese men smiling into the camera, speaking to some unseen interviewer. The later sections of this video opus seem at first to have more unity, such as the one that turns a Hong Kong subway platform into a puzzle game, but then dissolve into a general random-ness that perhaps fits with a mid-90s post-structuralism, but is never very satisfying.

Matching 4 with 12 – Mapping Vapour (2002)

A later piece, “Mapping Vapour,” takes a different direction and explores a simple formal idea with powerful effect. There is a long shot of an ocean harbor and a far set of hills, motionless, sustained, with only a subtle soundtrack burbling along, until about 5 minutes later, a single speedboat crosses the frame from left to right, leaving an enormous disturbance in the water behind it. We are left to watch the boat’s wake as it slowly fades away. This piece was a true, complete exercise in patience, and made the whole screening worthwhile.

The Lab: HK Film and Video Artists Series #3: Jamsen Law
Date: August 27th, 30th, September 15th, 16th, 2005
Place: Agnes B. Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Center
Address: 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2582 0200

Text: Samantha Culp
Photos: Courtesy of Hong Kong Arts Center © Jamsen Law

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