Medium: Photography / Installation
Dimension and quantity: 96cm x 117cm (two, juxtaposition) 10pcs
Dimension and quantity: size variable (installation) 1pc
After my father passed away, my mother unearthed and reorganized all of our old family photos. I was deeply moved when I saw those pictures. These people, my bloodline, each with their lips pursed while they quietly looked into the camera lens, left one picture after another as if documenting the evidence for my origin. Their world in the picture is one I was not and never will be a part of. However, my existence is annotated through the remnants of this illusory world.
Why do we exist? Such is an enigma that has traversed through the ages.
I've been working on a project called "In the Dark" since 2007. The visual experience I gained in the dark enabled me to experience the human heart's pursuit of reality and its willingness to form and shape things on its own. When our senses are compromised, we are able to discover how each sense that we rely on to perceive the world is in fact heavily dependent on one's own will. I used extremely dimly lit photographs to present scenery from everyday life, hoping the viewer will realize how they project their own sense of memory, association, and speculation into reality, while trying to conjecture what the scenery of my photograph might be. Then, to raise the question of reality and existence.
"In the Dark" is about an extremely idealistic point of view, while old family photos call to me from the opposite side. It is a world in which I took no part, and yet it's deeply connected with me. People in the pictures grew up, became educated, obtained jobs, and started their families. Each has a story that will form a distinct characteristic with time. All the details will trickle into a little river that's called "Me", and this river will one day become the origin of another river. These undeniable evidences explain my existence from a place that's forbidden to my mind, and in effect they work in a way that's quite the opposite of "In the Dark".
Idealistic and objective evidences are two opposing qualities that not only do not conflict with each other, but support each other, and sustain the mystery of existence. This is what our existence is all about. With our limited mind and senses we try to approach reality, while the reality based on our unreliable senses has become an illusion. In "Erebus", I wish to present this situation that is both contradictory and uniting. The images of the project are taken from old family photos; the world I was never a part of and therefore have no means to decipher its truthfulness emanates a strong sense of evidence and bloodline, forming an illusory but undeniable truth. Formally, I used almost all white and all black to repress visual elements, hoping the viewer will construct his or her own cognition out of minimal details, hence to emphasize our mind's natural inclination to construct reality from illusion. Black and white are used to compensate visual details in order to enhance the existence of the image that's there, but not quite. At the same time, the juxtaposition of black and white signifies a conflict in our thinking, the ever-present dichotomy of there/not there, idealistic/materialistic, now/then, self/outside, truth/illusion…etc. They are the opposite but do not repel one another, independent from each other but not self-sufficient. Their individual existence is to explain each other. Truth does not lie in one or the other, but in the abstract space constructed by both.
In Greek mythology, Erebus is the name of one of the primordial gods, deep darkness or shadow. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Erebus not only means darkness, but also represents a chaotic state between the world and the underworld, and gave birth to Hemera (goddess of day), Aether (god of sky), Cer (goddess of death), Oneiroi (god of dreams), Hypnos (god of sleep), and Geras (god of old age). This account pointed out indirectly that ancient Greek saw darkness not as a vacuum, but an entity that gave birth to everything in the world. With this word and its imagery, I wish to signify the conflict and complicatedness of our own existence. In between extremely idealistic and materialistic points of view, there exists a tarnished space of being/not being in which we will find our existence.
>> Additional statement for the site-specific installation:
What the heck is this pile?
For the current exhibition at Very Fun Park, I am showing my previous work Erebus, but with an addition some scattered, piled up obscure images. What the heck is this?
Based on Erebus, this added installation is inspired by the current exhibition space. My heart was pumping fast at very first sight when I was scouting the space. A house with long history that emanates memories: traces of past can be seen at every corner, obvious or hidden. From the bookshelves, I pulled out some old notes, doctor’s prescriptions and medicine belonging to the old physician. At that time, my hands could not stop trembling— I felt the scattered memories are illusory and yet real.
In Erebus, I tried to investigate the illusion and reality in bloodline and human existence. In a black-and-white photography, neither black nor white alone can give you the whole picture; there would always be something missing. It is forever up to the viewer to actively fill in the details. Nevertheless, when the two are cross-referenced a completed reality is formed, which seems to leave no room for speculation. And my existence is built on those family images.
The scattered history of the exhibition space inspires and reminds me that it is from the scattered memories that I and everybody come into being. The memory is the source, the origin of us. However, it is also nothing but an illusory object which can never be seen in its entirety. I need to create a piece to praise in awe this journey of no origin and no end.
I’ve always found this inquiry fascinating: does the moon still exist if you’re not looking at it? Therefore, I cut up a picture of a full moon into one hundred different images, and framed them in identical frames to produce, and pile them up at the exhibition space. This is the added installation. The moon is lovely, and you may or may not see it. It is our common memory. These scattered images make up a moon that you will never see in its entirety. But it is indeed there, just like reality or memory. Like the strangers in my family pictures, beautiful women in cheongsams, they are fragmented and illusory, but indeed there.
I was told that bloodline is like a silent violence, because it leaves you with no choice. I tend to think this violence is beyond bloodline and encompasses everything regarding existence. You are left with no choice, and not even doubt. Yet you are driven to move forward toward a certain direction. Existence is meaningful only when you exist. When something is beyond the comprehension of our senses, we can only doubt or question its reality. Strictly speaking, you can never be certain of anything true or false. All is true and false at once, and neither true nor false at the same time if you can never be certain of it. This condition is so indescribable, and can only be termed as nihilistic. However in this nihilistic illusion, we can not help but feel the physical evidence of existence. This is what I consider the absurdity and inevitability of human nature.