Opening reception: June 16, 2011, 6-8pm
Anonymous #53, 2010
Computer punch tape
40" x 30"
Brooklyn, NY – May 18, 2011 – Henry Chung’s latest exhibition of anonymous portraits in his on-going series Identity/Anonymity explores the relationship between technology, memory and identity. Rendered in an obsolete technology no longer accessible, these forgotten faces culled from flea markets and antique stores compel us to ponder the lives lived and memories lost of seemingly familiar or famous people.
Before the advent of disc drives, DVDs, Wi-Fi networks and cellular technology, paper punch tape was used to store and transmit computer data. Rolls of 1" paper tape were punched by a machine attached to a computer that translated the binary information on the computer into a pattern of holes in the tape, a hole for the number one and the paper left uncut for a zero. This tape could then be fed into a punch tape reader connected to other computer equipment and translated back into usable information.
Chung wrote a computer program that translates these found images into 1” strips of data that is then punched by a computer punch tape machine. He then “recomposes” the image by aligning the strips of black paper punch tape. By “drawing” these images of unknown people in holes in paper he is emphasizing the loss of memory and identity he experienced when he found these vintage images. His work acts as a metaphor for loss and exposes the inherent sadness associated with it. This body of work cleverly juxtaposes this loss in both physical and conceptual ways. Physically the image is made though cutting holes in the paper, creating loss in the paper and conceptually by the use of a technology that is obsolete and unreadable, which mimics his experience of finding photographs of unknowable people.
Perhaps his Chinese cultural heritage of honoring one's ancestors is the root of Chung's interest in memorializing lost identities? Whatever the origin, Chung is pointing out to us the importance of permanence and consistency in a time when memory is sketchy and personal identity more fluid than ever. His use of out-dated technologies and our inability to access information hidden in it is a powerful metaphorical tool to explore our personal and cultural understanding of memory and identity.
A native on New York City, Henry Chung studied engineering at Columbia University and photography at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He has maintained his studio in Brooklyn since 1990 where a lives and works. This is his third exhibition with RHV Fine Art.