Animator Wong Ping On The Realities Of Finding Creativity In A Pandemic
The animator discusses how his dislike of school as a teenager led to a celebrated career in art
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Artist Wong Ping is the first to admit he has never been an academic type. After failing his final year secondary school exams and facing the prospect of not getting into university, his parents sent him to Australia to finish studying. He decided to study multimedia at an Australian university because the course was assignment- instead of exam-based. “I went there without any clue what Photoshop or design was,” the 37-year-old says.
His lack of love for tests serendipitously ended up leading him down a career path he found he was not only passionate about but also skilled at. After graduating in the mid-Noughties, he returned to Hong Kong to work in broadcasting, but a collaboration with installation artist Nadim Abbas for Art Basel led him to pursue his own calling in the field.
Brightly coloured and evocative of retro video games, Wong’s work is recognised for the shocking and amusing way it addresses all facets of life, from sex and violence to politics. His video animation The Other Side, which uses birth as a metaphor for immigration, made it into the M+ museum and he was awarded the inaugural Camden Arts Centre Emerging Artist Prize, an award created to nurture and celebrate emerging artists.
Here, he explains his work in his own words.
I wasn’t interested in art growing up. I never went to shows or museums; it wasn’t in my friends’ or family’s culture. I didn’t even have any interest in making artwork while I was at university until a teacher on my multimedia course showed us experimental videos. I remember feeling mind-blown at how creative and powerful each one was. Years later, that feeling of being blown away has stayed with me.
Daily life is my inspiration. My process is to live every day, to observe and look around. I wait patiently until I bump into a moment that triggers me and gives me the urge to create work with the scenes that I’ve seen or things I want to say. My work is essentially a diary of all the things I’ve seen over the last few months and there’s never just one thing I want to say; there are hundreds of things in this diary. There’s a mixture of everything from different parts of my life. Sometimes I feel that my work is like a Facebook comment on my own life.
Covid-19 and lockdown didn’t affect the way I interact with stuff because I always work from home anyway, but the pandemic did make me realise that experiences and emotions have become globalised. We all used to have separate time zones and different ways of living but now we’re sharing similar anxieties and experiences, all stuck at home [living] at the same pace. Which is interesting: now I feel I have nothing to say, because there’s no contrast for me to analyse. We’re all telling the same stories and sharing the same feelings.