BY Emily Verla Bovino in Reviews | 30 MAR 21

'Ready\Set\Fulfill': Drone Racing with Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope

At de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, a racecourse for drones becomes an arena for exploring the small aircraft's transformative potential

E
BY Emily Verla Bovino in Reviews | 30 MAR 21

After meeting in Hong Kong, artists Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope became hiking partners. Treks across the island eventually led them to collaborate on ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’, an installation of multimedia sculptures that transforms de Sarthe Gallery into a racecourse for first-person view (FPV) drones – with competitions organized by DIY drone shop Flysmart – while reflecting on the ambiguous transformative potential of these small aircraft.

luk swope ready set fulfill
Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope, ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’, 2021, exhibition view, De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

In a mural at the gallery entrance, a hive-like conceptual design for Amazon’s multi-level fulfilment centres is flipped. Taken from the company’s 2017 patent application for a drone-reliant warehouse, Inverted Fulfillment (all works 2021) makes the swarm of surrounding aerial vehicles appear to attack their own base. At the other end of the L-shaped exhibition space, the projection Glass Curtain Dive (22.2488808, 114.1630336) replays a nauseating FPV flight up and down the glazed tower that houses the gallery, appropriately called Global Trade Square. To get to the projection, visitors must circumvent Waggle – steel rods animated by chittering and whirring drone propellers. Titled for the ‘dance’ that foraging bees perform to share information, the sculptures are scaled-up models of a bee tongue.

luk swope ready set fulfill de sarthe
Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope, ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’, 2021, exhibition view, De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

Dragon Cloud Gate is both a ‘gate’ through the artists’ drone raceway and a micro-scale model of the ‘dragon gate’ gaps found in Hong Kong’s luxury high-rises, ascribed geomantic significance for enabling spirit dragons to pass from mountains to sea. Debunkers of the feng shui theory object that everything in Hong Kong is about property value: the towers blocked desired views, so the holes were a compromise. Assembled like a curtain wall from plexiglass with spider fittings, and comically supported on the wheeled bases of two office chairs, Dragon Cloud Gate fogs with vapour from a deconstructed smoke machine. The container of glycerine that generates the smoke bears a Chinglish label, declaring it to be ‘without monism, without limulus’. This accidental lyricism gives Luk and Swope’s show the words to speak for itself. Oblique in form but not in message, ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’ refuses dichotomies but not difference and, without reducing drones to dystopian fantasies, presents them as evolutionary accelerators in an ecosystem where nature remains the ultimate technology.

Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope’s ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’ continues at de Sarthe Gallery until 8 May. Competitive drone races will take place in April.

Main image: Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope, ‘Ready\Set\Fulfill’, 2021, exhibition view, de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

Emily Verla Bovino is an artist and art historian based in Hong Kong.

SHARE THIS