Chi­tralekha Basu

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CULTURE HK - Fact and fic­tion Re­mote Hong Kong Through young eyes Mind the gap Con­tact the writer at [email protected]­nadai­

Eddy Zee, there were a few knock-off lo­cal ver­sions im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards. “They have bor­rowed the for­mat, but the fi­nesse and tech­nol­ogy of Re­mote Hong Kong would be dif­fi­cult to match,” says Zee.

In­deed, is based on a model that has been tried and tested in around 40 cities across the world. So Hong Kong artists who would like their walks to re­ally talk to the au­di­ence (and not nec­es­sar­ily by adopt­ing the com­mand­ing, ex­hort­ing tone that Re­mote Hong Kong did at times) should prob­a­bly try to find their own voice.

Che­ung says there are signs of that hap­pen­ing. “More and more lo­cal groups are ca­pa­ble of ef­fi­ciently han­dling such shows,” he says. It was the rea­son he opted for com­mis­sion­ing two new pieces rather than im­port­ing a time-tested model.

Chung is not as en­thu­si­as­tic. “The state of im­mer­sive walks in Hong Kong is still in its in­fancy. We need to learn qual­ity con­trol and man­age au­di­ence ex­pec­ta­tions,” she avers.

How­ever, she would give a thumbs up to Lost Shore­line by Rooftop Pro­duc­tions, a mo­bile-app driven walk where par­tic­i­pants ex­plore the older ar­eas of Yau Ma Tei on their own and get to choose from a range of the­ater ex­pe­ri­ences af­ter­wards. Chung also rec­om­mends the jour­ney of the isle de­signed by the the­atre du pif duo Bonni Chan and Sean Cur­ran as it al­lowed par­tic­i­pants to freely leave and re­join a guided walk across Che­ung Chau is­land, “like in a ho­pon, hop-off tourist bus”.

“We met very in­ter­est­ing peo­ple, in­clud­ing a former Can­tonese opera per­former who showed us a few moves,” re­calls Chung. “I thought the blend­ing of play­act­ing, his­tory and real-life sto­ries was very well ex­e­cuted.”

Walks could be­come es­pe­cially mean­ing­ful when fa­mil­iar lo­ca­tions are viewed through new lenses. The ar­chi­tect An­thony Lai led a group of stu­dents from Po Le­ung Kuk Lee Shing Pik Col­lege on a walk around their school in Tsuen Wan. They went up on the ter­race of an in­dus­trial build­ing and vis­ited an aban­doned wet mar­ket among other places. Lai was pleas­antly sur­prised by the orig­i­nal­ity dis­played in some of the pho­to­graphs the stu­dents took. He men­tions an im­age that clicked with him par­tic­u­larly well.

“It’s a photo taken with a hand hang­ing out from the win­dow,

look­ing down with a sin­gle­point per­spec­tive set­ting,” says Lai. “The stu­dent did a good job in cap­tur­ing a photo with an an­gle that is not com­mon to see in ev­ery­day life. The win­dow frames in their semi-opened po­si­tion, to­gether with the struc­ture of the build­ing cre­ates a sense of il­lu­sion whereby the wall be­comes floor. The im­age of­fers a lot of mul­ti­ple read­ings.”

Lai is mak­ing a video out of the pho­tos taken by the stu­dents dur­ing the walk. It will serve as the back­drop of the Hong Kong Episodes con­cert in Jan­uary 2019. De­vel­oped as part of the Jockey Club New Arts Power ini­tia­tive, the event is a tribute to life in Hong Kong on a typ­i­cal day, cre­ated by Lai and the mu­si­cians Fung Lam and Teriver Che­ung.

Lai says the ex­pe­ri­ence of dis­cov­er­ing Hong Kong anew in the com­pany of young peo­ple has been ed­i­fy­ing. “I’m in­spired by how the stu­dents think and see things so purely with­out lim­its and con­straints,” he says.

One wouldn’t have thought there was much left to dis­cover by walk­ing around in down­town Hong Kong, but it seems some­one had a dif­fer­ent idea. In Fe­bru­ary 2019, Hong Kong Arts Fes­ti­val will present Chore­og­ra­phy Walk. Those who sign up will take a walk “from Hol­ly­wood Road Park, and down Soho, the Mid-lev­els and Cen­tral, all the way to Pier 7,” says the event’s chore­og­ra­pher Jus­tine A. Cham­bers.

The pace they are ex­pected to keep will be noth­ing like what the swarm­ing of­fice-go­ing crowd who walk that route on a reg­u­lar week­day is used to do­ing. It will be set at a dif­fer­ent rhythm, where walk­ers en­gage with the sur­round­ings more mind­fully, based on a new aware­ness of “how ar­chi­tec­ture, to­pog­ra­phy, ur­ban plan­ning and civic gover­nance work upon our bod­ies, and in turn how we can ac­ti­vate our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive phys­i­cal power upon these forces”.

Along the way there will be a per­for­mance or two, so un­der­stated that they might be missed if the walk­ers weren’t to­tally alert to the sur­round­ings. At the same time it’s re­quired that “the par­tic­i­pants move as an en­sem­ble with an aware­ness of each other and work to­wards stay­ing to­gether,” notes Cham­bers.

Be­tween walks that can make par­tic­i­pants feel spe­cial in a group to those in which the feel­ing of be­ing part of a group is spe­cial, cu­rated walks in Hong Kong seem to be head­ing in a new di­rec­tion.

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