Eternal Wish Radio
Collaborative Exhibition with Kenneth Jeffrey Kwan Kit Lau
Forest City Gallery, London, ON
Excerpt from "Spooky Action at a Distance", exhibition essay by Nic Wilson.
In Eternal Wish Radio Simon Fuh and Kenneth Jeffrey Kwan Kit Lau have ostensibly made a space for wishing and for dreaming. A fountain is presented as a proxy wishing well and drawings are inscribed on the gallery wall as a record of wishing but their sly gesture makes space for much larger existential questions about how desire is stoked, what it looks like, and the ways that we might—however imperfectly—dream together.
In the 1993 film, We’re Back! a time-travelling philanthropist and inventor named Captain Neweyes constructs a radio that captures the wishes of people across time. This magical creation manifests these wishes as video bubbles that drift from a plum brown Art Deco radio. Out of the cacophony of wishes picked up by the radio, Neweyes determines that the most ubiquitous wish amongst the children of the 1990s was to see a real, live dinosaur. To that end, he abducts five dinosaurs, feeds them a high-tech cereal that imbues them with the consciousness and inhibitions of humans, and sets them free in Manhattan. If only desire were that simple!
Like Captain Neweyes, Simon and Ken have made a machine for wishing which bubbles and churns, but unlike the wish radio, Eternal Wish Radio is not made for wish fulfillment. The images inscribed on the gallery wall are not a Christmas list but instead point to the troubled entanglement between images and desires; making a wish; and the terror of one’s dreams coming true.
Throwing a coin into a fountain and making a wish comes from a long history of offering and prayer. Centuries ago, the miraculousness of clean, drinkable water was enough to inspire both devotion and ceremonial offerings. Ancient Germanic and Norse wells used to be adorned with statues and offerings to the gods that lived within them and now depositing coins into a well is seen as a public health hazard. This is probably for the best—maybe dreaming shouldn’t feel like plugging the meter.
For Simon and Ken’s wish machine, the visualizations are summoned through drawing. This collection of strange dreams is scratched onto the walls of the gallery in the noble tradition of neolithic cave paintings, Roman frescoes, and American bathroom graffiti (for a good time, call_______ ). The act of drawing stands in for a lot of things. In the past, it has been considered a private, preliminary activity carried out in the studio for the artist alone and maybe their patrons. In this instance, I think Simon and Ken are using it like a sacrament, a way of taking images into your body to be metabolized and then externalized through the hand. It is both a symbolic and literal way of ingesting an image, connecting the light in your eyes with the longings that live behind them, in the darker places of one’s heart.
Eternal Wish Radio, 2020. Plastic bowls, wood, water, fountain motors, rocks from Port Stanley Beach, pencil crayons, wall drawings with pencil crayon.