If Tomorrow Never Comes
pinhole photography, archival pigment print on paper, programmed light box, video
160x160cm (a set of 5), 14:29 mins
If Tomorrow Never Comes
If tomorrow never comes,
then today, I’ll make every effort
to remember you from tomorrow.
I turn into a camera
the remnants of yesterday you’ve given me.
For you, with this, I shoot a portrait,
one that belongs to tomorrow.
If Tomorrow Never Comes presents a paradox inspired by my own misreading of two simplified Chinese characters: “come/future 来” and “end/apocalypse 末.” Ironically, it is this misreading that best captures the underlying anxiety of our time. To leave or not to leave, to forget or not to forget, these questions constantly waver between the regular and simplified, between collectivism and new order.
For all we know, we may now bid farewell by saying: If tomorrow never comes…
If photography is defined by its practice in which the photographer controls the camera and the camera captures the subject, my work aims precisely to subvert this tripartite relationship. My sitters regain power and decide how they will see and be seen. In an era when cameras have become synonymous with surveillance and control, I shoot in trust and communication in order to re-examine such relational dynamics. This photographic series, in particular, involves those who has left a poignant yet gentle mark in my life. Some have already left, some are soon leaving, some will never leave, but they all remain in the shadow of my tomorrow.
Each participant entrusted to me an object of their past, which I then turned into a pinhole camera. With this, I renounced glass lenses and returned to the most primitive optical means to shoot these portraits of tomorrow. The “decisive moment” in photography was in turn determined by the length of my conversation with each sitter about the future that has yet to come. In doing so, I let go of the mechanical means of capturing the present and also let my subjects restore the relational gaze and conversation. The resulting series of images is one that manifests in the future perfect tense. And the waning and waxing of these images, words, and objects all point in the end to one uncanny question about histories, memories and the future: How are you tomorrow?
In the name of re-search and creation; of examining “disappearance” as an artistic means to challenge “disappearance” as a cultural concept; of re-garding the mechanics of image construction; of re-sisting empty photography in the post-photography era.
被攝者提供有關他們過去的物件，我以這物改裝成針孔相機，拼棄鏡頭，以最原始的光學拍一張明日的肖像。拍攝過程以一段有關未來的對話作為「決定性瞬間」，否定機械操控的瞬間，回歸關係中的對望與對話，建構「過去未來」式的影像。 影像、文字、物件，三者相互建構與消減，探討歷史與記憶，回覆未來的扣問： 明天的您好嗎？
Image courtesy of Tai Kwun Contemporary. Photo: Kwan Sheung Chi.