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«Karaoke Night»
2009, Quynh Dong


‘Karaoke Night’ was produced as a response to the work ‘Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House 1983’ by Bill Viola.

‘Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House’ is the consequent observation of the experience of the isolated self. In a room on the upper floor of an empty house the protagonist tries to stay awake constantly for three days.

With ‘Karaoke Night’ Quynh Dong assimilates the theme of isolation and also integrates her transcultural experiences. She regards singing karaoke as an active form of isolation. In doing so she takes elements of Bill Viola into the year 2009. For example the serious questions on birth and death, on image-inventions like happiness and grief, day and night etc. Like in Violas work the sound in Quynh Dong’s work plays a particular role and like Bill Viola, a professional team accompanied her during the shooting.

Within the fourteen hours an artificial sunrise was staged in the karaoke room. Quynh Dong began singing karaoke in darkness and sang until sunrise. As an Asian she lacks a particular enzyme – a deficiency that allows only a humble consumption of alcohol. On this day she drank a bottle of champagne and cognac.

The recordings were shot with an XDCam to show the glamour of karaoke and its transformation into total isolation. By and by one perceives the room and with the amusing Vietnamese hits and folk songs the time passes very quickly. The video becomes increasingly slow; the atmosphere turns dismal and oppressive. Through subtle changes in light and sound and the use of dreamy images and spatial obscurities, the viewer gets a distorted perception of time, space, illusion and reality.