Magdalen Wong: Dreaming of Dying Robots and Artificial Flowers

Installation Views
Press release

Make Room is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition with Magdalen Wong “Dreaming of Dying Robots and Artificial Flowers.”

The exhibition shows a series of her latest works that look at how we as human express our deeper thoughts and desires through our inventions and fantasies. In science fiction, we allow dreams and fears to materialize with imaginary heroes and monsters, robots and aliens, lightsabers and sonic breams. These stories often evoke the social and economic power that control our life and death, and allow us to ponder on the personal and political definitions of mortality and immortality. Though one thing that does last forever is with the discovery of plastic. The invented science of plastic in the 1900s brought an explosion of technological innovations and mass-produced commodities, from weaponries to space shuttles, and from toys to office supplies, substituting many natural materials traditionally used in the everyday. Yet with the high versatility of plastic that may lend itself to great creative possibilities, we also find many uses of this material to reproduce what we find in nature. Like the plastic flowers that decorate shop interiors and homes, the silicon skins on androids, and the synthetic water for modeling. Plastic flowers are becoming more and more realistic with the newest “real touch” flowers that not only look real, but feels real. Molded silicon is painted to imitate human skin on sex toys and robots. Synthetic polymers produce artificial tears, as well as “realistic water” that are used to create artificial ponds in landscape models. Looking at science fictions and plastic products, the works in the exhibition hope to relate our fear of death, our desire to live, and our aspiration to understand and reinvent life to our never-ending dreams of the future.

Last Words is a sound recordings with both male and female voices speaking the last words of dying robots from different scenes in SciFi movies.

Plasticus Flos Botanica is an ongoing series of drawings studying artificial flowers, which was inspired by the traditional botanist doing close scientific study of plant species. These drawings are anatomic studies of the collected artificial flowers from different cities around the world. Though plastic flowers are basically immortal, the drawings will focus particularly on their reproductive parts that no longer function as their natural counterparts, which they replicate.

I Know Why You Cry, But It Is Something I Can Never Do is an ongoing series of photographs taken of artificial tears samples under a microscope. The photographs are microscopic observations of the reactions in artificial tears when subjected to different elements and situations that may ormay not change its chemical compounds. The crystal structures of natural human tears differ depending on the reasons why people cry. Would the artificial tears change when watching a sad movie or listening to a depressing song? Each photo is an image of an artificial tear under the microscope watching or listening or reading from top ten lists found on-line of : the saddest songs, the most tearful movies, the funniest movies that make you cry of laughter, the depressing photos, and the greatest love letters.

Magdalen Wong, (b. 1981 Hong Kong) is a New York-based artist working with ready-made imageries, sounds, and mass-produced products from the dollar stores, the Internet, commercials, and films. Her projects look at the history of how we adapt to social and cultural changes, as well as looking at our imaginary visions of our future and our desire to reinvent nature. Wong had received grants and attended residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Yaddo, Vermont Studio Center, Goyang Art Studio in Seoul, and Fjuk Art Center in Iceland. This year she was invited as a resident guest artist at Institut Supérieur des Beaux Arts de Besançon in France. She had exhibited at Witte de With, Center for Cotemporary Art, The Netherlands; Spring Workshop, Hong Kong; Asia Society, Hong Kong; Para/Site, Hong Kong; Laurence Miller Gallery, NY; NurtureArt, Brooklyn; and Fresh Window Gallery, Brooklyn. She received her BFA at Maryland Institute College of Art, and her MFA with a Trustee Merit Scholarship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.