in ten sity
in ten sity (1978) is a 25 minute black-and-white five-channel video installation by Paul Wong. The work began as a 1978 performance at the Vancouver Art Gallery, in which Paul climbed into an 8' x 8' x 8' padded cube and, for what amounted to the duration of a punk rock concert set, slam danced to the music of Sex Pistols, Avengers and Patti Smith, while eight cameras (some of them embedded in the walls) recorded the action.
The significance of eights can be read in multiple ways. First, eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture; second, when paired with the "ten" in the title, the number replicates the dimensions of the celebrity portrait format (the 8x10 glossy); third, the Mainstreeters had numbered eight people – until the passing of Kenneth Fletcher that summer. in ten sity is dedicated to Kenneth.
In speaking of in ten sity, Paul describes it as "an endurance piece, a statement of emotional and physical intensity, a visual and vocal expression of a vein of thought and strain of energy." Aware as it is of a then-burgeoning punk rock culture, the piece could also be described as a dance floor catharsis born out of the loss of a friend and a collaborator, a performance so diverse in its emotional complexity (grief, anger, guilt, sadness) that it incited those gathered to toss objects into the cube (as an offering? a stoning?) before jumping in themselves. Some of those who jumped into the cube (to rescue Paul? to attack him?) were Mainstreeters.
Although the work is attributed to Paul, it remains, by virtue of its unexpected intervention, a Mainstreeter collaboration. That said, there was a more formal arrangement in place: the project manager is Annastacia McDonald, while Jeanette Reinhardt did the lighting.