My recent photo installation at the Singapore Art Museum, as a part of the TransportAsian exhibition.
The Jungle Book - The Terrain of the Real Fake
Photo installation, 2009
The pair of photographs contribute to an ongoing series of works called The Jungle Books. A long-term project, borrowing its name from Rudyard Kipling's famous collection of stories, is basically a conceptual framework for art works that speak to life in the Mekong sub-region. Each work will draw inspiration and information from diverse sources and issues such as early colonial travelogues and fiction, early anthropology, the natural sciences, popular culture and tabloid trash, current news, local beliefs and mythologies and politics.
In this series, we find the endangered Giant Mekong Catfish washed ashore and expired as the people come to term with the unexpected arrival of a big problem. In the other photograph, Vietnam's first ever satellite has returned home, smoldering as people gaze upon the symbol of national ambition from the safety of their homes.
While the series speaks to the fluidity between fact and fiction, the photographs are fictions themselves, composited using 3D models. No attempt is made to be convincing. The artifice is to be celebrated.
Also, Gilles Massot (LaSalle College of the Arts) and I delivered a short artist presentation titled "Constructed Images: Simulacra in Southeast Asia) on May 29th. He brought up an interesting point that if the ecological conservation of the Mekong is not taken seriously, the Giant Mekong Catfish, like the Tasmanian tiger, will soon be as much a fiction as the photograph, and people will be flocking to Mekong theme parks to take photos and buy stuffed animals of the catfish, then existing solely as a simulacrum.
Posted by on June 1, 2009 2:30 PM | Permalink