Text & Critics

淨化 : 真實但非真相 Catharsis : Real But Not True

HUNG Keung

01/ 2015  text by Olivia Ho

Reawakening of the soul, in both emotional and cognitive aspect, is constant and inevitable stage of our lives. The origin of Catharsis, in Greek is translated as ‘cleansing’ or ‘purification’ placing emphasis on the two core components: the emotional and the cognitive aspect. The emotional aspect involves one’s process and condition in emotional states, whereas cognitive aspect is the realization of unconsciousness becoming consciousness, resulting in a positive change of the inner growth. With multiple identity and root, HUNG KEUNG connects his personal experiences and the notion of catharsis and explores the possibility in visualizing the transformation through artistic sense. By using varieties of medium, such as installation, ink and film, HUNG encourages the audience to interact with the common objects in our daily life, and possibly view iconic figures and objects in a new light.

Truth and reality are often understood as two overlapping concepts with a very blur line of difference. HUNG connects the process of identifying the two with the notion of ‘catharsis’. Overcoming fear is perhaps the most relatable and clear example for clarifying the difference between truth and reality. The existence of fear is a truth, and could be symbolized as a mental barrier. However, in reality, this fear is not an unchangeable fact. It is something that could be removed. Stepping into the gallery, immediately the attention is drawn to the bright and bold circular light, accompanied with a circular projection filled with flickering dots of ink. HUNG’s interactive installation <Spatiotemporal Experience of Ink through Light> (墨墨光、默默送) invites the viewers to identify the relationship and difference between reality and truth.

Depending on the light source, the dots of ink will respond differently. Once the viewer stepped into the circle rim of the projector, the dots of ink naturally draw to the created shade. However, when the neon light is switched off, what light source are then the dots of ink draw to? This change in motion questions the concept of reality and truth. In another piece, <Family Photo>(家族照), the notion is projected on a more concrete and physical item, history and photos. Photo, by appearance, is only an object that captured a particular moment in the past. The context is undoubtedly the truth, however, it cannot be repeated again in reality.

Depending on the one’s interpretation, these photos can exist in past tense, present tense or even present continuous tense. By revisiting the photos and re-experiencing the memories through conversations, it gives life back to these dead objects. The revisits also allow HUNG to modify the photo directly according to the relationship between the people inside the photos and choosing whom to place emphasis and focus upon. This creates another spectrum of reality.

Throughout the exhibition, traits of HUNG’s multicultural background and acquaintance with traditional Chinese are visible in his artworks, some through the choice of medium and some through the philosophy behind.

HUNG was first exposed to traditional Chinese calligraphy, painting and ink with a coincidental mistake of being treated as a hyperactive child in primary school. His mother then introduced him to traditional ‘ink-related’ knowledge, and artistic skills, in return strengthening his concentration and self-disciplinary levels. This deep-rooted familiarity and affection for traditional art practices later accompanied him in pursuing studies in design, fine art and media art, slowly becoming part of his character. His upbringing in Hong Kong, a city with diverse and shifting identities also takes part in forming his creative direction. Living in a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, it led to self-questioning of his identity: Is he Indonesian Chinese, Chinese, Chinese-born Hong Kong person or Hong Kongese? Witnessing and aware of Hong Kong’s political and social changes, such as the most recent, Umbrella Movement, these experiences became a main form of inspiration in his later research direction and practice in different contextual layers.

Other works in the exhibition plays with the iconic figures of history and plays with its significance. In the 3 TV sets video <Where to Come From? Where to Go?>(何處來?何處去?),  HUNG visualizes the cultural difference under the name of freedom and the public’s understanding of this concept becomes a product of the social issue itself.



Text by Dr. William Cheung

  • 諸微塵,如來說非微塵,是名微塵。

All of that fine dust is not fine dust, and that that is what is called fine dust. 

The atoms of dust, according to Tathagata, are not atoms of dust, but are merely named ‘atoms of dust’

  • 以三千大千世界,碎為微塵

Pulverizes a great chiliocosm into fine dust.

Take the myriad worlds and crush them to atoms of dust.

  • 三十二相,即是非相,是名三十二相。

The thirty-two marks are not marks, and that that is what is called thirty-two marks.

Thirty-two physical marks, are not physical marks, but they are named ‘thirty-two physical marks.’

  • 此人無我相、無人相、無眾生相,無壽者相

That person will be without lakshana of self, lakshana of human beings, lakshana of self are beings, or lakshana of a soul.

These persons will have no more the characterizing attributes of the ego, of man, and of all beings and personalities.

  • 一切有為法,如夢幻泡影,如露亦如電,應作如是觀。

All conditioned dharmas

are like dreams, like illusions,

like bubbles, like shadows,

like dew, like lightning,

and all of them should be contemplated

in this way

All activities

Should be looked upon merely as being like a dream,

A phantasm, a bubble, a shadow,

A drop of dew, or a flash of lightning.

  • 若菩薩有我相、人相、眾生相、壽者相,即非菩薩。

If a bodhisattva has lakshana of self, lakshana of human beings, lakshana of sentient beings or lakshana of a soul, then he is not a bodhisattva. 

If a Bodhisattva has the characterizing attributes of the ego, of man, and of all beings and personalities, he cannot be a Bodhisattva. 


Graham, T. (2001). Describing the indescribable: A commentary on the Diamond Sutra. Boston: Wisdom.

The Diamond sutra: [Translated from Kumarajiva’s Chinese version].(1967). Hong Kong: H.K. Buddhist Book Distributor Press.



* William Chueng’s comments on Hung Keung’s works


「諸微塵 , 如來說非微塵,是名微塵。」- 金剛經

  • 在點點的彩光下,構成朦朧的夜景,在宇宙的角度下,只是微塵的聚散。

 * The obscure nightscape made up of colorful dots of light is merely the meeting and parting of fine dust from the perspective of the universe.


「以三千世界碎為微塵」- 金剛經

  • 光圈是真實,光影是看見的凡塵現實。

 * While the halo is real, lights and shadows are visible earthly realities.


「三十二相,即是非相,是名三十二相。」- 金剛經

  • 人的經歷有不同階段,由東到西,由西回東,變化才是真實。

 * We pass through different stages in life, from east to west and back. Change is reality.


「此人無我相、無人相、無眾生相、無壽者相。」- 金剛經

  • 在記憶和重現的相片迴廊中,「現」在和「消」失是選擇性的。

* Inside the corridor of memory and reemergence, what is present and what has vanished are selective.



「一切有為法 如夢幻泡影 如露亦如電 應作如是觀」- 金剛經

  • 創作是有為,看創作可以是無為。

* To create is an action, while viewing the creation can be inaction.


「若菩薩有我相、人相、眾生相、壽者相,即非菩薩。」- 金剛經

  • 佛和菩薩都沒有不變的面相,你要看真面目,就是執現相。

 * Buddha and Buddivittsa do not have invariable appearances. Seeking to see the true face is insisting on the superficial.


 Text by Dr. William Cheung

* English Translation: Helena Chung



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