Hong Kong based artist Luke Ching has transformed a newly refurbished room in Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel into a giant pinhole camera, capturing the historic dock area in transformation. Open Eye Gallery Curator Thomas Dukes speaks to us about the project so far…
L: Luke Ching has just spent three weeks in Liverpool working on the project – how did it go?
TD: Oh it was brilliant, scary but then incredibly exciting and relieving. We had the space booked for him at the Titanic Hotel, and then when we talked to Luke he was saying, ‘we’re going to need lots of boards, and chemicals’ and we were thinking ‘are you sure the Titanic Hotel is going to be the right place to do this?!’
So we talked it through a lot with them, and said ‘he’s going to be making a giant pinhole camera’ and they were like ‘Yeh.’ The room was only available for so long, so it was really tight for time, but Luke was really focused on doing it. So at the start, you can imagine roughly what is going to happen in theory – you can look at some past images that he’s made, but when he’s actually in there, you’re like, ‘what’s going on in there? What’s happening?’ You can’t go and see, because the room is so dark and has to stay fixed. Then there was the rubbish weather – really foggy, cloudy and hazy, no sun and not clear, so poor vision out of the windows, so it was like ‘oh god, what is happening?” But I went down and saw him on the second to last day that he was in there. It was the first time I had met him, and he was dead nice and we had a chat and he said did I want to come and have a look. This was amazing; it was so good. Being able to go up and see the work like that – it was a relieving moment, seeing it and knowing that the project was exactly the right thing to do.
L: Give us a sense of how big the pinhole camera is? Is it literally made of the room? How had the room been blacked out?
TD: So you do wonder about the logistics of it! There were two windows in the hotel room, and we’d ordered him loads of 10mm foam board, so he just made giant walls over the windows, and the actual physics and construction of it still baffles me – one of the angles that he’s got, meant that one of the windows wasn’t just straight back, there was a real angle on the projection…so the actual science of it…obviously I suppose that’s why he’s an artist and he works in that way, but yes, the camera was an entire blacked out room.
L: So the camera was temporarily installed for his visit. How were the images recorded?
TD: Yes, he had to build it – so the throw distance of where the paper is in relation to where the pinhole is determines to a degree, focus and what you can see and the scale of things. So for one of the prints it was literally, block off one window, make a pinhole and on the other side of the room the paper was pinned, and on the other one – another of the prints, he had to make a fake backboard that he could tape the paper to, and then he could see. Seeing them was just great. He recorded three images in total – he’s going to turn one of them into a positive as well, which is going to be smashing. And that’s going to be the big one – it looks fantastic. The buildings are of historic significance and then you see them and see how this all came together really nicely.
You can see Luke CHING in Culture Shifts: Global at Open Eye Gallery, 6 April – 18 June 2017
Culture Shifts: Global features commissioned new work by three artists who in the run up to the festival are producing new work that makes connections between Liverpool and Hong Kong. The exhibition explores the city and urbanism through outsider’s eyes.
The exhibition is part of Open Eye Gallery’s Culture Shifts programme, a socially engaged project dedicated to making photography meaningful to various local, national and international communities.
Ben EVANS, Luke Ching Titanic, 2017
Top: Luke CHING, Wall Detail, 2017
Interview with Thomas Dukes
Edited by Anna Taylor http://www.anna-taylor.net
Luke CHING Biography
Widely acknowledged as one of Hong Kong’s most active conceptual artists, Luke Ching Chin Wai challenges the social system with a good mix of humour, responding and interrogating the cultural and political collisions occurring in our city. Ching’s works range from photography, sculpture and video to social intervention, often made as a spontaneous response to his surroundings.
With a particular focus on the city, his works attempt to explore the people and places around him, by careful observation and then rebuilding a city with works that sit in between real life and fiction.
Ching has an incredible sensibility towards the most ordinary daily objects, which he manages to twist and manipulate imaginatively to create a new narrative. Strange yet familiar, and presented with a new context, viewer’s attention is drawn to something easily overlooked in our daily life.
Born in 1972 in Hong Kong, Luke Ching earned his MA in Fine Arts in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Over the past two decades, the artist has participated in exhibitions and residencies abroad including P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center, New York (2000), Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, United Kingdom (2008) and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Residence Program, Japan (2006). Ching’s recent solo exhibitions include Gallery Exit, Hong Kong (2014), Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2008), Hong Kong Visual Art Centre (2007), and Vermont Studio Center, Vermont, US (2006). Notable group exhibitions include 1a space, Hong Kong (2016), Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2015, 2011), Silverlens Gallery, Manila (2015), CAFAM Biennale, Beijing (2014), and Phoenix Art Association, Brighton, UK (2008).
Luke CHING, 41 Salisbury Road, Tsimshatsui, KL, Hong Kong 2004
Luke CHING, 1/F 17 Fung Yi Street, To Kwa Wan, KL, Hong Kong (Door, Wall, Window) 2001