As the lockdown measures in England have eased further since July, I have been thinking about how physical and digital spaces will coincide.
The Pandemic has highlighted that we can adapt and embrace digital technology when there’s been no alternative. This has, of course, presented positive stories but also challenges which remain to be addressed. But this interplay between digital and physical space has been an ongoing conversation. The Pandemic has just heightened the attention.
The Royal College of Art launched an online exhibition for the MA Sculpture cohort, as well as a physical exhibition Proxy.
Artist Polam Chan has engaged with this interplay of digital and physical spaces through their recent project: “I’m Just Not There” Project HONG KONG. Chan’s project has followed a series of events relating to the changing political landscape in Hong Kong between 2020–2021. The digital aspect of this project can be seen through the selected live streams of protestors hosted on Chan’s website. Perhaps speaking to the title of this project, for those who were not physically present in Hong Kong during this time.
The physical part of the project on display was fascinating. Chan documented opinions, thoughts, political standpoints and emotions from these events, handwritten on Earthware ceramic tiles. With the tiles positioned in a way with the text aligned vertically, you need to be quite close to see what has been written. The scale of the installation meant viewers could easily spend over 15 minutes attempting to read as many tiles as possible.
This method of documentation was interesting since only snippets were captured onto the tiles. Was the text captured significant to Chan? Or does the significance lies with the various authors? Could these tiles present a multifaceted invitation to engage people with events in Hong Kong?
Polam Chan (b.1989) is an artist from Hong Kong based in the UK, who recently completed an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.