Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren's Cromniomnacy
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 4:54pm on 19th October 2016
1. Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren, Cromniomnacy, video still, 2016
2. Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren, Cromniomnacy, installation view, 2016 (with carpet)
3. Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren, Cromniomnacy, performance at Rossi & Rossi, 2016
(原文以英文發表，評論〈Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren: Cromniomnacy〉展。)
Cromniomancy is divination – looking into the future - by using onions.
Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren’s Cromniomancy exhibition at Rossi & Rossi was the latest in a series of events, performances, light and sound displays, related to divination and New Age movements, that the artists have undertaken since 2014. (1)
The exhibition reflects back to the 1960s and 70s, of psychedelic experimentation and the influence of Asian/Eastern philosophies on the West and its Judeo-Christian traditions. The resulting hybrid of New Ageism offered, according to the artists, a “homegrown form of mysticism, to yield its dizzying constellation of pantheistic and hybridized forms – forms that have now made their way back East.”
The exhibition was a vivid visual experience of patterned rugs, prints and a video. However, it was the waves of sound, low ‘Om-like’ humming, gradual rhythmic harmonics, almost-chants, that was at the heart, and filled, the exhibition as a complete sound installation.
The techno-coloured, spirally, hexagon-patterned carpets and walls of amorphous and geometric pink prints was a perfect setting for a final-day-of-the-exhibition live performance. In full circle were a group of maroon-gowned performers who sang, hummed and modulated their voices to follow waves of sound from individually worn headsets.
The imagery in Cromniomancy explores frequencies and cosmic divination. The natural patterning of cut onions is similar to the patterning of cymatics, the waves created by the surface vibrations seen on a diaphragm or membrane – which can be seen by sprinkling a layer of dust on the vibrating membrane surface. Some followers of the New Age movement claim that cymatics has special healing properties.
In an explanatory video about cromniomancy, the artists relate the history and use of onions in divination and predictions of the future. Done with straight-faced documentary explanatory voice-overs, but accompanied with jumpy psychedelic-styled graphics, the video is styled like an almost-advertisement. The video ranges from straight fact-giving, dubious assertions to downright buffoonery. At one point, an onion is addressed and berated: “You think you can just go around making people cry!”
It was an elaborate exhibition as warning. Geomancers, soothsayers, tellers of the future, New Aging fortune-tellers, and frauds! And, there were no onions placed around the Rossi & Rossi gallery - or, any that I could see.
(1) See Lesley van Eyck, ‘Third Eye Kaleidoscope’, in Artomity, Number 1, Summer 2016, 174-180 for a full summary of previous projects by Adrian Wong and Shane Aspergren.
Link for further info:
'Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren: Cromniomnacy' @ Rossi & Rossi Hong Kong
This review was originally published in Artomity, Number 2, October 2016.