Vexation

Phoebe Hui (HK)

Vexation is a musical instrument built especially to play Erik Satie’s composition Vexation. Satie apparently instructed that the same music should be played 840 times. Inspired by Samuel Biderman’s octave spinet, Vexation builds upon traditional drawing pencils and woodwork together with modern electronics. I made a moving wooden cylinder on which I drew marks using pencils with different-sized leads. These pencil marks function as a score. The contact between the sound circuit and the pencil marks produces audible music. The cylinder can also be seen as a sculptural piece. Its cylindrical shape evokes my understanding of vexation—an endless circulation. In Vexation, I tried to collapse score and performance: The drawing in itself is the physical material that generates the tone. I am interested in transforming existing artworks, presenting them using new forms of notation or mechanical instruments, in order to raise the question: When does something become a different work of art?


Phoebe Hui is an interdisciplinary artist who received her BA in Creative Media from City University of Hong Kong, her MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins and an MFA in Design Media Art at UCLA. She is the recipient of Yale-China Arts Fellowship, HKADC Young Artist Award, Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, Bloomberg Emerging Artist Award, among others. She primarily works on the relationship between language, sound and technology. Hui has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions locally and internationally. She is also the recipient of a number of grants and awards, including Yale-China Art Fellowship, and most recently a Solo show grant from Watermans to coincide with 2012 Olympics Games in London, Hong Kong Design Association Design Student Scholarship.