Emily Davis Gallery, Myers School of Art at The University of Akron

How can interdisciplinary research be understood better through karaoke?

Emily Davis Gallery is part of the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art. During FRONT 2022, the gallery presents its own independent group exhibition, Synapse 15: Intersections of Art and Science, including a new FRONT commission by Hong Kong and New York–based artist Wong Kit Yi.

Here, Wong presents a new video installation based upon her research in Akron and Cleveland. This work explores the links between subjects as disparate as ancient Egyptian practices of dream interpretation; jiāngshī (Chinese hopping vampires); the first voice-box transplant, which took place at the Cleveland Clinic in 1998; nose flutes; fish DNA as a potential medium for memories; and the political transfer of Hong Kong to China. These inquiries are connected through her signature filmmaking mode, which incorporates newly composed songs with karaoke-style running subtitles into associative, essayistic narratives. This novel format opens up the videos to viewers’ embodied interactions. This video installation will be accompanied by a performance-lecture at the CWRU Health Education Campus during FRONT 2022’s opening days and film installation for the run of FRONT, as well as a traveling kit that allows other art venues around the world to also present a version of the project in parallel.

As the artist states, “Ancient temples were the precursors of hospitals, places where body and spirit were meant to be treated together. Modern medicine, however, appears to divorce the concept of treatment from care of the soul.” In her thoroughly interdisciplinary approach, the perceived separation between bodies of knowledge and types of experience are broken down and imagined anew. Wong locates the artistic work of healing in the spaces between established genres.

Wong Kit Yi (黄潔宜), Inner Voice Transplant, 2022. Color HD video with sound, 38 minutes; karaoke lecture performance. Dimensions vary. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with additional support from the Myers School of Art Residency Committee and the Case Western Reserve University, Putnam Fund. © Wong Kit Yi. Photography by Field Studio.

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