Media release: High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese wins New Media Writing Prize!
The collaborative project High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, developed through Oxygen’s Art Centre’s Artist in Residence program, has won the UK based, New Media Writing Prize.
High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese is an interactive website and installation exploring Chinese immigration and settlement in British Columbia. The project was created by a team of Nelson and Vancouver artists including Nicola Harwood, former director of Oxygen Art Centre, Fred Wah, former Poet Laureate of Canada, artist / performers Bessie Wapp and Thomas Loh and composer Jin Zhang. Significant artistic contributions also came from Nelson performer, Hiromoto Ida, Vancouver artists and programmers Tomoyo Ihaya and Phillip Djwa. As well, many community members contributed oral histories and stories, including Cameron Mah and Lawrence Mar, both of Nelson. (www.highmuckamuck.ca)
Jim Pope of Bournemouth University, organizer of the New Media Writing Prize presented the award, revealing that the judges were looking for an “innovative use of digital media” that was both easy and satisfying to use.
Utilizing their varied skillset, the collective married together hand-painted graphics with interactive poems and presented on a map interface that the judges described as “beautiful and visually coherent work.” The digital narrative was one of over the 500 individual entries that have been submitted since the event’s inception in 2010.
Presenting the award was Chris Meade, the mastermind behind the if:book think tank based in New York and London and a key sponsor for the New Media Writing Prize. Accepting the award via Skype, Zhang, Wah and Harwood shared their excitement and thanks with the audience:
“Buildings disappear, stories disappear and racism goes underground shaping continued and subtle patterns of exclusion. Our hope is that High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, unearths some of these layers that make up our shared history of place.”
The process of building High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese mirrored the content rather uncannily because the creation of this piece was also a process of immigration. None of the artists working on it had ever attempted a new media project before.
“We literally created our way toward the outcome of this project not exactly knowing where we were going or what we would find when we landed. Landing here tonight, our immigration story has a very happy ending.”
High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese
An artist and community collaboration, High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, is an interactive exhibition that explores some of the experiences of Chinese Canadians immigrating to Canada and to Nelson. The exhibition opens July 4th at 5pm.
The exhibition was created by a team of Nelson and Vancouver artists including Nicola Harwood, former director of Oxygen Art Centre, Fred Wah, former Poet Laureate of Canada, artist / performers Bessie Wapp and Thomas Loh and composer Jin Zhang. Significant artistic contributions also came from Nelson performer, Hiromoto Ida, visual artist, Tomoyo Ihaya and electronic artist Phillip Djwa. As well, many community members contributed oral histories and stories, including Cameron Mah and Lawrence Mar, both of Nelson.
Visitors are invited to participate in the gamble of immigration by filling in their own family immigration histories and playing the Pak Ah Pu lottery. The materials created by the artists, including poems, images, music, video and interviews are triggered by audience interaction with the lottery – taking each person to their own destination and leaving them with a “fortune.”
The project is also an interactive website where all the materials of the exhibition can be experienced on-line at www.highmuckamuck.ca
High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, opens Friday July 4th at 7pm and will be on exhibition at Oxygen Art Centre, July 5 – July 19, Wednesday to Saturday from 1-5pm. Artist talks will take place July 5 at 1pm. Admission is free and everyone is welcome
Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges support for this project and exhibition from Creative BC, Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, British Columbia Arts Council, Canada Arts Council, Vancouver Foundation and the Province of British Columbia.
© 2019 Oxygen Art Centre