A STORY OF VISUAL CULTURE
From the clothes we wear and the houses will live in, to the commercial images that flood our lives, visual culture is at the core of our societies. M+ aims to combine various art forms, and a range of artistic and scientific disciplines, to put this fascinating and ever-changing imagery at the heart of its vast collections
Visual culture encompasses the way a society views and represents the world. Paintings, sculptures and photographs belong to visual culture alongside our built landscape, the clothes we wear, the films we watch, and even the commercial images that flood our lives. The study of the subject, too, embraces a spectrum of academic disciplines, both artistic and scientific.
Different research areas combine to put visual culture at the heart of M+’s collections. Hong Kong’s geographical position has played a major part in the richness of its artistic and cultural history, which blends East and West. Despite its global reach, M+ considers the objects in its collections from a local perspective.
The thematic area in one of the museum’s opening exhibitions, ‘Hong Kong: Here and Beyond’, draws on different disciplines to bring together objects from M+’s collections and new commissions to illustrate the multifaceted development of the city’s visual culture since the 1960s. One should look at a piece of visual culture in its entirety, and not just the part that literally meets the eye. Understanding how and why an object was produced, and all aspects of the story behind it, can reveal much about the era in which it was created.
‘When it comes to non-linguistic modes of expression, such as visual art, design and architecture, there is a huge opportunity to engage the general public with new ways of perceiving the world,’ explains Doryun Chong, the museum’s deputy director, curatorial and chief curator. Educating the public in visual literacy is part of M+’s role as a civic institution: ‘The selection of works is based on historical research, and how the forms of objects or images capture moments of time in depth.’ In this way, M+ can trace the emergence of the unique culture of the people of Hong Kong, and the way their mentality is set towards global aspirations that still inspire future generations.