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  about "comm.blk"  

“If you want to build a ship, then don't drum up men to gather wood, give orders,
and divide the work. Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900-1944, French writer (“The little prince”)

Communication describes the process of exchanging information, usually via a common protocol. Humans communicate in order to share knowledge and experiences, give or receive orders, or cooperate. Common forms of human communication include sign language, speaking, writing or gestures. New communication technologies are being developed rapidly and made more widely available. In the 21st century, the century of modern technology and space travels, information is power. The power that brings our lives together and makes our dreams come true. In a world so small, without boundaries and differences, communication is the true source of the modern world. It provides our path for the future.

The current information revolution is dramatically increasing the potential for sharing information across the globe. But still emotional, cultural and physical communication barriers remain, even grow. It is a commonplace to say that our contemporary world is a complex one, whether we look at the macro-level of international relations or at the micro-level of everyday life. Overall, it seems increasingly difficult for us to have an adequate description and understanding of the world we live in, and correspondingly, how we should communicate within it.

“No one would talk much in society, if he knew how often he misunderstands others.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, German novelist, dramatist, poet, humanist, scientist and philosopher.

As immigration continues and communities of different cultures mix together people will be exposed to new and perhaps even unfamiliar customs, traditions, and languages in their own communities. Today as many as 100 million people are living outside the country of their birth, but millions more latter-generation immigrants maintain their ethnic identities. Technological advances like the Internet allow contact with cultures around the world at the touch of a key, national borders lose their importance, but still failing to share a common communication protocol remains an important barrier in many parts of the world.

“A world community can exist only with world communication, which means something more than extensive shortwave facilities scattered about the globe. It means common understanding, a common tradition, common ideas, and common ideals.”

Robert M. Hutchins, 1899-1977, American educator and university president

Frank Woo’s installation COMM.BLK tries to illustrate the importance of communication and the growing challenge of transferring information between regions and cultures. He created a vivid demonstration of the power and danger of communication. With COMM.BLK Frank Woo animates and encourages visitors to participate and thus educates through an interactive approach, hoping to leave a remaining impact in people’s mind.

The installation describes how the interpretation of the same – verbally or nonverbally exchanged – information varies according to the respective background and influencing factors. The work portrays communication from four different perspectives according to the four points of the compass – North, East, South and West.

COMM.BLK also deals with the barriers, obstructions and blocking factors of communication and the distortion of information through perception, censorship or manipulation as to be found in our everyday life. Visitors can physically experience that in order to get a clear understanding of certain information it may be necessary to give up familiar and habitual communication patterns and to shift paradigms by looking at the information from various perspectives. Only to experience communication from different angles can lead to a wide comprehension, without this leap into different paradigms the absorption of information will be limited to a distant impression and connotation. Thus this installation demonstrates clearly: Whether communication will imply positive or negative effects, whether information evokes negative or positive reactions, will crucially depend on the respective context and point of view.

With COMM.BLK Frank Woo created a colossal walkable art piece, which predominantly consists of polystyrene, a polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum. Polystyrene was accidentally discovered in 1839 by Eduard Simon, an apothecary in Berlin, Germany. The material is widely used as insulation in building structures and as molded packing material for cushioning fragile equipment inside boxes. Frank Woo collected a vast amount of used polystyrene from rubbish dumps and back lanes all around the city. Polystyrene represents one of the non-recyclable wastes of our society. Even though recycle programs for polystyrene exist in other parts of the world, a respective system has not been introduced in Malaysia due to the lacking economic efficiency of polystyrene recycling. By transforming used polystyrene into collectible art pieces, Frank Woo wants to highlight the importance of environmental protection through responsible handling of non-disposable waste. Visitors can pick part of the artwork, their collection will be signed by the artist and their pick will be listed in the documentations on the artwork.

About the artist:

Frank Woo is a young artist from Hong Kong residing in Malaysia. His candid approachability and creative sensitivity along with his casual sincerity and brand of spontaneity form his refreshing, distinct and atypical personality. His previous installation works mainly deal with green politics, issues of refuse and recycling, his art pieces are composed from materials such as egg trays, scraps of metal or pieces of wood that have been discarded or junked by individuals, shops, factories. He had even assembled wood discarded from coffin-making industries for some of his installation works! Frank Woo’s works include the famous gigantic sculpture ‘Dancing Shadow’, which is permanently exhibited in the Hilton Hotel at KL Sentral.

About the exhibition

Galleriiizu Kuala Lumpur, Mezzanine Floor (Above EON Bank),
UOA Centre, Jalan Pinang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur


07th April 2006
(Artwork will be on display until 27th April)

7 p.m.


Tel: 03 23801121
Fax: 03 23801126


Travel Exhibition:
After being exhibited in Kuala Lumpur, the installation will travel throughout South East Asia. During this journey additional features will be added to the installation relating to the respective location. The evaluation of the artwork will be documented and submitted to various Biennales around the world, among others the Biennale in Shanghai and New York.


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