The 51st HK Arts Festival

Lost in Hyper- Realistic Ambiguity

Text / Rebecca Lee

Renowned media artist Keith Lam has partnered with composer Fung Lam to create a new programme that questions the nature and very meaning of reality. Hyperreality juxtaposes a live performance of Fung Lam's new work, Four Realities for electronics, strings and saxophone, and a recording of American composer George Crumb's monumental Black Angels played by the Cong Quartet with a kinetic installation designed by Keith Lam to create a hyper-realistic and ambiguous atmosphere.

The concept of "hyperreality" was introduced by philosopher Jean Baudrillard in the 1980s. He foresaw a world where the boundaries between reality and virtual reality were blurred, where everyone could create a "network clone" in the metaverse, and where seeing did not necessarily mean believing.

Keith Lam manipulates light, shade and haze in the concert to immerse the audience in a hyper-realistic space where virtual reality and reality are indistinguishable. Fung Lam will perform Four Realities live on piano and cello, joined by a saxophonist from the Hong Kong Contemporary Music Group and a pre-recorded electronic soundscape, as a response to Crumb's influential string quartet Black Angels. Parts of Four Realities will be performed after each of the three movements of Black Angels, creating a multi-dimensional surround soundscape. The audience at Freespace, located at West Kowloon Cultural District, will be free to move around as they are transported into this hyper-real world created by music, light and shade.

Hyperreality represents the first collaboration between Keith Lam and Fung Lam, who are recognised as outstanding artists in their respective fields. Keith Lam was awarded an Honourary Mention in the category of Interactive Arts at Austria's 2008 Prix Ars Electronica, a prestigious event described as "the Oscars of new multimedia art", and his work has been exhibited around the world. Fung Lam was the first Hong Kong composer to receive a commission from the BBC. In September 2022, he partnered with the renowned photographer/ videographer Wing Shya in a multimedia concert. Incidentally, Keith Lam and Fung Lam are both influenced by the work of Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, an electronica pioneer who has made great contributions to both new-age and ambient music. Their love for Sakamoto has given them a common language that has helped this marriage of arts technology and contemporary music.

In this age of incessant warfare and a prolonged pandemic, many of us may feel the need to escape reality for a while. And Hyperreality offers an opportunity to visit the world envisioned by Baudrillard, one where the boundaries between the real and the virtual no longer exist.

Hyperreality—an installation concert

Detail: https://www.hk.artsfestival.org/en/programme/hyperreality