BrokenOff was an exhibition that brought together nine New York designers to pay tribute to one of the best designers of his times, Tobias Wong. People do refer to him as a designer but Wong preferred to call himself an artist. Designer or artist, consider him either of the two but he was one who drew a very thin line between conceptual art and design.
All the designers participating in the exhibition found a very dear friend in Wong. Through BrokenOff BrokenOff they came together to reconsider and reinterpret the design legacy of Tobias Wong. One of the nine designers was Fredrick McSwain. He decided to pay tribute to this great designer in a very innovative manner. According to him Wong was ‘one of the funniest people who lived … There was something about the way he saw the world, the way he reacted was the butterfly effect.’ His passing away at the age of 35 was much unexpected and a great loss to the artist fraternity.
Life is a game and no one knows what is there in store for them ahead. There is an element of randomness in everyone’s life and this is well depicted by a dice of a game. Delving into this thought McSwain decided to use this medium to present his art form; a portrait of Wong using dice. Wong himself was well known for his risk taking spirit. The number of die used for this purpose also has a hidden message. The 13,138 die used here are directly related to the number of days Wong lived on his earth. McSwain has presented one die for every day of Wong’s life.
As McSwain perceived Wong to be a ‘very street-level’ force he decided to install his portrait on the floor. Suspending a portrait on the wall takes one away from it. There is a distance created between the portrait and the viewer. On the floor it is among the crowd enabling one to ‘almost interact with it.’
Wong was a Canadian born on June 10, 1974. He moved to New York to complete his education. As a student of architecture he went on to concentrate on sculpture. On May 30, 2010 he committed suicide in his East Village apartment at the young age of 35. According to a New York Times report, Wong had a long history of parasomnia, a kind of sleep disorder. He is said to have hanged himself while sleep walking.