artist support programme (ASP) alumni: Edwin LO Yun-ting
photo by South Ho
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Edwin Lo Yun-ting is an artist and researcher working across video, image, installation, sound, and video games. By utilizing sound as the focal point of his practice, his practice concerns the individuation of sound as a medium, as aesthetic source, and as philosophical reflection.
Since 2008, Edwin’s works have been widely presented in various local and overseas exhibitions, festivals, and residencies, such as Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture (Hong Kong, 2009), Para Site (Hong Kong, 2010), FILE 2010 – Electronic Language International Festival (Brazil, 2010), EMERGEANDSEE Media Art Festival (Germany, 2010), Hong Kong Independent Film Festival (Hong Kong, 2010), City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, 2011), ‘Braunschweig Project’ (Germany, 2013), ‘RPM: Ten Years of Sound Art in China’ (United States, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, 2013), ‘Around Sound’ Art Festival (Japan, 2014), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2014), K11 Foundation (Hong Kong, 2015), Tokyo Arts and Space (Tokyo, 2017), and LOOP Barcelona (Barcelona, 2019).
In 2014 and 2016, Edwin presented two solo exhibitions: ‘Time spent, lost, and regained…’ at Goethe Institut Hong Kong (2014), and ‘Traces and Scenes’ at Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, United States (2016). In 2017, he presented his solo project ‘OBJEKT’ with sound art organization Singuhr in Germany. He was recently the research resident at Tokyo Arts and Space research residency in the summer of 2019, researching the electroacoustic compositions of Jean-Claude Eloy in Tokyo.
Edwin currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
Edwin Lo Yun-ting was supported by soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme 2010–11.
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Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre, Hong Kong
◎ On creation: Breaking through the bottleneck
soundpocket: There have been some twists and turns, looking at your creative journey: you used to make art with visuals and sounds that you captured yourself, but the artwork exhibited in ‘10 years of ASP’ seems no longer to follow this practice. You mentioned it was a game-based and screen-based artwork. Can you tell us more about this?
Edwin: The contexts for the two exhibited artworks are relatively similar. Around 2015–2016, I started to think: every artist creates at a different pace, and some artists encounter a bottleneck at a certain stage. That was how I felt at the time: I don’t know how to say this exactly, but somehow, over the seven years since I graduated, i.e. 2008 to 2015, I still couldn’t really figure out the things that I wanted to do. This was also the reason for me to continue my studies, hoping to gain some inspiration through learning something more theoretical.
[Artist] Ip Yuk-yiu was my teacher at SCM [School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong]. We had been friends since university, and we might meet twice or three times a year before the pandemic. Once he told me, “You should try to make games, or start thinking about them.” In the meantime, he was also doing artworks related to games. I kept his words in mind and started to explore game-based work around 2016. I enjoyed learning new things, and somehow game-based work suited the way I worked, given I am not a very “studio-based” artist. Most of the time I can create on a desk at home.
Yet why would I still say I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do with my creations? Maybe I was aware that I’m not fully capable of handling installation art as I wish, although I know some ways of doing it. In other words, I wanted to explore other artistic mediums before returning to installation art. I started to create with Unity3D [a cross-platform game engine]. I have played games since I was a child, but I had never thought that they could be related to my creations, not until I began to slowly think about this after creating with Unity3D.
Of the two artworks exhibited in ‘10 Years of ASP’, let me begin with “Outlast – Poe Trilogy: Part 1 – The Fall” (2018), this can represent my days between 2018–2019… Gaming is actually a very “cinematic” experience, especially games nowadays that are not only simply pursuing excitement, but also sensory experiences. Some research on gaming shows that they can move people emotionally. Through the focal point of the narrative, the sounds, visuals, animation, and the graphics in the games, I tried to express my thoughts about machinima, gaming and the moving image, and how I could re-intervene in the game experience via sound.
About “Those Who Do Not Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It” (2020), I completed this work smoothly, as I could feel something that I would like to express via the work. I have only experienced this kind of creative gesture in recent years. Back in 2016, when I was working on my solo exhibition “Traces and Scenes – Homage to Akio Suzuki” in the Chicago Experimental Sound Studio, I couldn’t really figure out what I really wanted or the pace of my own creation. I’ve not been able to do that until recent years. Sometimes I told my friends there were both pros and cons of not having exhibitions for a few years, that finally I got the time to review my own art and creative rhythms.
◎ The artwork in ‘10 Years of ASP’: The appropriation and representation of real events
Edwin: This is my creative process for the work: “Outlast” from Red Barrels is quite an innovative game. The avatar in the first-person perspective game is usually designed to attack, but “Outlast” is a survival game. The background of the game is about a group of scientists doing experiments with nanotechnology. The narrative itself is similar to the mythical figure of Prometheus, and some scenes in the game immediately reminded me of the novels by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It’s an attempt to juxtapose psychological horror and the threshold of the body through the game and novel, and therefore the visuals needed to be entirely from the game.
In terms of my understanding of Machinima—or you may know the Milan Machinima Festival from Italy—what is being shown is something obscure, while I would like to present another kind of Machinima that juxtaposes two different things in a justifiable way, and creating a soundscape to intervene there, in order to think about how I could create some relatively new experiences.
soundpocket: How about the sound presented in “The Fall”?
Edwin: I produce all the sounds in my work. The sounds provided by the game are relatively conventional sound effects or music. After studying the relationship between the context of the game scenes and the literary texts by Edgar Allan Poe, I created all the sounds based on my own interpretations.
The game consisted of two episodes: “Outlast 1” and “Outlast 2”. The context of “Outlast 2” is very different from the first, and is based on the “People’s Temple” incident (in Jonestown, USA). For a long time I have been very curious about this. When I was studying the game, I found there were many archival materials about Jonestown from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) online archive, in addition to many audio recordings, videos, and images at the Jonestown Institute. I developed two artworks by studying all these documents, and the first work is being exhibited in ‘10 Years of ASP’.
Regarding the theme of the work, you should know about the context of Jonestown: In 1978, Jim Jones came with a group of people looking for the promised land somewhere in Latin America [Guyana]. At the place where Jim Jones gathered with the people, there was a board on which was written: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” America in the 1970s was indeed quite a wild era, and the event at Jim Jones’ People’s Temple was one of the major incidents in American history. I personally had doubts about Christianity back in the day, and these doubts inspired me to work on this, and probably it’s one of the major motivations of trying to juxtapose these two different things, the games and Edgar Allan Poe’s novel.