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Lingnan Hung Kuen Across the Century

2017 Hong Kong, China
Cocurator: Sarah Kenderdine, Hing Chao

Historically, Hong Kong is one of the most important centres for traditional Chinese martial arts and, since the mid-20th century, the de facto capital for kung fu films. The interaction between kung fu as a physical practice and mass media since the 1950s is a defining characteristic not only of Hong Kong culture, but it played a key role in forging a transnational Chinese identity and engendering a global fascination with Chinese martial arts. In this process, kung fu was elevated into one of the most powerful and recognizable symbols for Chinese culture. In turn, media – and, in particular, film – representations came to dominate our perception of Chinese martial arts, and had a significant impact on the development of Chinese martial arts over the past 60 years or so. The interactions between the practice and media representations of kung fu are complex and multi-layered. 

Lingnan Hung Kuen Across the Century: Kung Fu Narratives in Cinema and Community was organized discursively by adopting historic and thematic approaches. Under the former approach, the contributions of the Lam and Lau families will be set forth and compared, where applicable, in a diachronic manner, to illustrate how kung fu practice and media representations came together with the birth of mass media in Hong Kong in the early 20th century, and continued to fuel and influence each other's development through the "golden age of kung fu" in the 1970s up to the mid-1980s. This exhibition also adopted a more thematic approach to bring focus to important topics of interest in relation to kung fu development during the past century. Specifically, they deal with: (i) the use of technology and media by the kung fu community – in particular, by the Lam family – to document, teach and promote kung fu; (ii) new media reinterpretations of the legacy of Lau Kar-leung's kung fu cinema; and (iii) the re-imagination of kung fu in an international context.

Key exhibits:

Perspectives of Hung Kuen in Motion
This installation consists of the five-angled simultaneous display of Kung Fu performances by Oscar Lam (fourth generation master of Lam Ka Hung Kuen).

Kung Fu Visualization
This installation shows the animation of Lau Gar Kuen and Monkey Staff performance documented with motion capture.

3D Lam Sai Wing
This 3D animation shows the virtual model of the Hung Kuen master Lam Sai Wing performing Iron Wire Boxing. Motion capture data and studio photographs of Lam Sai Wang are extensively referenced for creating the life real virtual model.

3D rendering of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
This display shows the 3D rendering of the training scene from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Kung Fu movie directed by Lau Kar-leung.

Lau Kar Leung Kung Fu Classics
Scenes from Lau Kar Leung movies were augmented to vintage movie posters.

Linear Navigator of Hung Kuen History
Visitors can travel through 1920 to 2010 to explore the history and development of Hung Kuen in Hong Kong.

Hand-painted Movie Posters from Ghana, West Africa
These hand-painted movie posters witnessed the incredible process of Kung Fu globalization, which has taken Hung Kuen to every corner of the world.

Exhibition Record

2017/9/6 - 9/25:  Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Hong Kong, China

2017/12/9 - 2018/2/1:  Academic 3, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China