in ten sity

in ten sity
Paul Wong, 1978
5 channel video installation, b/w, 25 min., stereo
single channel edit (1978), single channel mix (2008)

“in ten sity is an endurance piece, a statement of emotional and physical intensity, a visual and vocal expression of a vein of thought and strain of energy”. Dedicated Kenneth Fletcher 1954-1978

Wong climbed into the space and for 25 minutes, he bounced off the walls to the lyrics of The Avengers, Patti Smith and The Sex Pistols. According to a newspaper account the performance culminated in an unscheduled near riot on the part of the audience who threw objects, and then themselves, into the space in an attempt to both reinforce and interrupt Wong’s statement of emotional and physical intensity.

Wong’s recent video performance in ten sity was the result of pure power. And power is an energy that Wong thrives on as he spreads his presence and his art into energetic and hyped personal style. There has never been anything low-keyed in Wong’s photo and video works and in ten sity is no exception. But that’s not really true because in ten sity is exceptional. In fact it is one of the most exceptional works to be witnessed on the west coast (Canada) for some time. For the audience who viewed Wong’s performance at the Vancouver Art Gallery the disturbance created by Wong’s bodily expression was both compelling and emotionally moving. The VAG exhibition space was staged with a four walled cube, 8’X 8’ which was padded internally. The four walls and the open ceiling were monitored by video cameras. Wong entered the gallery, climbed a ladder and disappeared into the blue cube. Personally I was very uneasy about the work at this time. Knowing that Fletcher was a close friend of Wong’s who had only months before committed suicide. I felt perhaps Wong would attempt his own cathartic self-mutilation as we all watched. As Wong’s slow pacing and wall assaulting became more intense the audience picked up the momentum of his energies. The intensity of the performance became overpowering. Not knowing how far Wong has planned his own movements, one began to wonder if he was indeed going to bash himself into unconsciousness as some observers had predicted. The whole scene took on the aura of prize fight and we were watching dumb and stunned into a bank of monitors, hoping for a KO.
-Arthur Perry, Vanguard Magazine 1979

“Just watched the in ten sity remix. Wow. This new version almost improves on the original edit. I really want to go back and watch the original again just to compare. I love being able to see all the screens at once. The new edit really enforces this idea of the panopticon: surveillance, the prison of the self. The piece really communicates what it is like to be inside the space of grief. I’ve always loved this piece, and I found it very powerful, watching it again tonight. In the last two minutes I suddenly felt overwhelmed. When the people enter the room with you, its such a powerful image of communion, of broken isolation. I love how you hold that woman in the most tender way possible and then you wrestle her to the ground. Amazing.”
-Nelson Henricks, 2008

This work was included in Wong’s solo exhibition On Becoming a Man 1995, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Paul Wong from the Collections, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2002 & Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982, Satellite Gallery, Vancouver, amongst many other exhibitions.

Credits:
Sound Composer: Al Mattes
Sound Mix: Al Mattes & Peter Auson, Music Gallery, Toronto
Music courtesy of:
SEX PISTOLS: Anarchy In The UK, Holidays In The Sun
AVENGERS: We Are The One, I Believe In Me
PATTI SMITH: Rock N Roll Nigger, Privilege (Set Me Free)
Project Manager: Annastacia McDonald
Video Engineer: Kate Craig
Sound Engineer: Hank Bull
Lighting: Jeanette Reinhardt
Assisted by: Canada Council, Vancouver Art Gallery
Thanks to:
Carol Hackett, Charlie Rea, Mainstreet Inc., Western Front, Video Inn, Pumps
2008 Digital Mastering: Brian Gotro
Editing: Paul Wong, Brian Gotro

Distributors: Vtape

Installation, Performance, Video