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Rhizomatic Labyrinth - Between Virtuality and Actuality

Part 2 Project 2001
Benjamin Boon Chi Tsang
University of Hong Kong | China
Development in information technology has brought major change to traditional culture, value and notion of ¡¥space-time¡¦. New fractional virtual dimension is suggested to the materiality of our physical world. Advents in telecommunication reduces our distance and shrinks our physical space. Our cities are reduced to series of information nodes, scattered, dispersed along the flow of communication.

Museum, as an art venue / information nodes of culture, has long been a defined space with distinct locations and predetermined path. Visits are usually packaged in several prescribed routes, but with technology, the access to any information is now made possible anywhere and anytime. ¡¥Museum can be everywhere¡¦.

The project is located in the context of a disused air raid shelter tunnels underneath a landscape park. The setting initiates the proposal of a new media art venue simultaneously above, below and at the edge of the ground plane.

Art spaces and installations are fragmentized, scattered and placed all around the dual forms of landscape - above, below and in-between with chance encounter points of entry linking by the tunnels and the trails.

The co-presence of art events and park activities, above and below ground experience recalls the co-existence of reality and virtuality. This conception contributes to a number of possible traveling experience with no logical sequence or hierarchy, a network which one follow multiple routes to multiple destinations - a scenographic journey.

The ¡¥Rhizomatic Labyrinth¡¦ contributes a field of events and happenings, ¡§¡K likes pieces on a gameboard, travelers move around within and upon it, discovering possible relationships with other travelers, hiding, seeking, losing, finding, passing by, encountering, entrapping, nearly missing¡K ¡§

Benjamin Boon Chi Tsang

The thesis distinguishes itself in 5 different aspects:

In urbanistic terms, the thesis attempts to provide a cultural experience through the provision of a media-art museum in a well loved landscape park in the heart of the business/tourist district in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Instead of building and competing with the precious greenery in greenery in a downtown setting, the museum is developed in an abandoned air raid shelter/tunnel, neglected since the 1950's, underneath the Kowloon Park. This is an alternative and far more sensible solution to the Government's current proposal to build a Museum of Contemporary Art in the same location, which in effect will destroy over 10% of the park.

The present proposal is also a direct response to the current public outcry for sensible urban renewal, to bring a halt to the continual cycle of destruction and rebuilding privileging the developers while decimating urban neighborhoods and precious greenery.

Media Art is a long neglected art form in Hong Kong, the thesis attempts to bring attention to the development of contemporary art, bridging a gap between the perception of "high art" with the general public. This is achieved firstly by the central and popular location, secondly by the intended method of enticing the viewers to engage with the media exhibitions (a somewhat more "difficult" form of art when compared with public sculpture) through chance encounter while experiencing a typical stroll in a park.

What truly distinguishes the thesis is the brilliant conception of achieving simultaneity in visual and physical experiences, through a network of non-hierarchical path, above, in between and below ground. The almost surreal merger of the natural and the electronic environment, the virtual and the real - a scenographic journey.

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