Paul Wong, 2010
installation with video, 4-channel video and sound loops, colour
mahjong table, set of mahjong tiles, 4 chairs

Mimicking the camera angles, tracking and zoom shots of “poker television” and gambling room video surveillance, Paul Wong’s Mahjong (2010) installation reveals the intricate micro-dynamics and verbal and visual queues that are integral to this classic game. As is the case with other of the artist’s works, the repetition and pattern of numbers are crucial. In Mahjong, there are four separate games (rounds) being played, four players playing them and four screens on which the work is presented. The camera emulates the cinematography of television game play: straight cuts, cross fades, overlays, and slow motion. Through a combination of top down, fixed side angle, moving side angle, and close up shots, the camera also mimics the conventions of cable television gambling games such as Poker Television. Yet, here there is no play-by-play, no characters or directions or instructions other than the game itself. Rather the artwork is installed in such a way that invites the viewer to play along to the images. Influenced by the sights and sounds of the Chinese gambling halls of his youth, Paul Wong’s Mahjong is rooted in the visual and oral sensuality of the game–the saturated colours of green in the game pieces and table top, the characters and names, floral patterns and coloured numbers on the dice and game pieces. It is this rich iconography that allows the participants to invent their own rules and play the game according to the images at hand.

Jordan Strom, Curator Game Show

Exhibited at Surrey Art Gallery, 2010. Exhibited as part of 5 at Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.

Video Credits:
Mahjong players: Sun Yat-Sen Gardens Mahjong Club
Videographers: Brian Gotro & Marcus Rogers
Editors: Brian Gotro & Paul Wong
Post Production: Brian Gotro