Reflections on Annie Wong’s Centre for Communication and Poetry Research

Centre for Communication and Poetry Research by Annie Wong, 2017

What core purpose does communication serve? We try to attribute meaning to life experiences and it is through the nuanced interactions with those around us that we come to learn more about the world we inhabit. Whether it be through an artistic medium such as poetry or in the mundane conversations we have with each other on a daily basis the search for understanding is everlasting. This quest is innate to us and whether we consciously understand this or not we are bound to explore, investigate, interpret and perceive the energies that surround us. Does the medium through which we choose to communicate matter or does the sharing of energy placate our desire for connection? In her interactive exhibition The Centre for Communication and Poetry Research Annie Wong questions whether the underlying purpose of communication is to elicit an empathic response from another.

In this age of technology in which we are reliant on the fast paced flow of information, the exhibit hypothesizes that genuine communication is more about the linguistic gradations embedded in emotional expression and response and less about the information that is being conveyed. Poetry in and of itself is a means through which writers attempt to convey meaning through the intermingling of words, often in unfamiliar and challenging patterns. Wong juxtaposes poetry with the commonplace telephone conversation; a technology that is becoming antiquated yet continues to be a part of our daily interactions. By reading poetry over the line to a stranger Wong proposes that the meaning of a message is not information but rather the empathic exchange that is conveyed through the tonal shifts and subtle intricacies of the human voice.

Cathy Boyce is a community worker based in Saint John, New Brunswick. She is also a part time freelance writer. Her community practice focuses on social justice issues and currently she works to support people with an intellectual disability to live independently. Cathy’s writing centers on the complexities of human emotion and the practice of empathy within the helping professions and in daily human exchanges. 

Cold Calling is an ongoing interdisciplinary series of performance and public installation projects with visiting artists Vanessa Vaughan, Annie Wong, and Brandon Vickerd. This series examines cultural and personal investment in communication technology, and the positions of vulnerability and power stemming from faith in the promises of technological advancement. With empathy as a guiding perspective for audience engagement, Vaughan, Wong and Vickerd identify respective anxieties surrounding privacy, interpretation and progress.