Convergence of Documentary and Contemporary Art Practices In Hong Kong: Experimental Ethnography

  • MAK, Hoi Shan Anson (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project has a number of unique qualities. i) It will study the overlapping and mutually challenged practices of documentary and contemporary art via the theme of experimental ethnography. The two fields are mutually illuminated in terms of social urgency and political commentary, cultural representation and formal experimentation. On the one hand, ethnography serves as both a research method and a critical framework for subject matters of art works. On the other hand, artistic experimentation further examines the notion of subjectivity and reflexivity to re-inscribe the complexity of the inter-relationships between the personal, social and cultural spectrums. ii) The project will involve video ethnographic research. Apart from the textual analysis of the art works and context analysis (artists’ interviews) undertaken by most scholars, this project will include video shoots of artists’ interviews and the ways they work. An audio-visual presentation can demonstrate the complex and vibrant details of the artists’ lived experiences and artistic practices, which cannot be expressed in writing alone. Hence, in addition to academic papers and conference presentations, the deliverables of this project will consist of a Web-based documentary video project about the making of experimental documentary and moving image (visual) artworks.

The aims of this research are to: i) identify all Hong Kong experimental ethnographies/artists from 1989 (when domestic video equipment became more accessible, and the 4 June movement stimulated moving image art making) to 2015; ii) identify the subject matters of artworks, including identity, community, home, gender/sexuality, health, etc.; iii) examine how the above issues are represented through the convergence of various modes/styles of documentary and contemporary art practices in this group of artists’ works; iv) re-define the position of experimental documentaries in the field of contemporary art in Hong Kong; v) emphasise and practise video ethnographic research as an appropriate research method and form of presentation in the fields of cultural research, documentary film and contemporary arts; and vi) produce academic papers and present the research materials and analysis in the form of audio-visual materials on Web-based platforms (free public access) for both the production and dissemination of cultural knowledge.

Effective start/end date1/01/1631/05/18


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