'Leaving LA' Exhibit
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Presented by Perth Festival 2021
© 2021

This exhibition is a live animation installation presented by Perth Festival 2021 at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. A whirling and dynamic artwork that fully encompasses the viewer, it combines hand-made zoetropes, projection, camera-phones and video that extends the award-winning animated music video for Tim Minchin’s song Leaving LA into real time and space.  

Laying bare the brilliant art and detailed craft of Ng’s internationally recognised animation work, the project is built on his long-term fascination with zoetropes. Simultaneously magical and mechanical, zoetropes have been made since the mid-19th century; they are circular objects featuring still images that, when rotated, create the illusion of movement, much like cinema would employ many years later.  Ng’s use of them here, in combination with digital devices, shows how we make compelling meaning from simple elements. As we encounter these lovingly made components, a whole new world comes to vivid life, one that also pulls us into an intimate relationship with the dynamics of the work’s creation.  

The word zoetrope comes from the union of two Greek terms “life turning”, a fact that perfectly fits the emotional theme of the project.  After all, Minchin wrote the song Leaving LA when the animated film he had been working on for four years was cancelled, an event that prompted him to leave the fabled city. Transforming these feelings into an angry-funny response, Minchin’s song speaks to the ways our will to believe and capacity to be deceived so often go hand in hand.  As he says, “the [Hollywood] sign is so famous and is such a good metaphor for Hollywood.  People travel to see the sign and it’s just this slightly disappointing two-dimensional thing. I spoke to Ken about me being a two-dimensional Tim getting his three-dimensionality back”.   

Ng’s installation here pushes his original response to this brief in a bold yet incredibly moving way; he dramatically stages the moments when we fall into and out of illusions implying, in the process, that such states are as inevitable as they are alluring, exciting and, as Minchin found out, on occasion heartbreaking.