In The Future
What will we build in the future?
The world before the crisis has been changed.
The Red & Grey Sculpture is a milestone in the story of our civilizations,
as well as the colourful insertion in the black & white pictures.
Humans believe they can rule the world, but within the passing years, the world fell into a state of chaos, confusion, and panic. Politics and disease have modified us. It has been a huge blow: we have lost our normal life, the economy has collapsed, and the global order has lost its balance as countries blame each other…All kinds of behaviours have exposed humanity’s prejudice, selfishness, and ignorance…
We also have discovered new things about ourselves. Did it modify what we care for and what we want? When we get back on our feet, our thoughts about the future are probably much changed.
We experimented the end of many certainties: it is the door towards a new future.
A sense of alienation is always felt in the works of Almond Chu. The title Time Tunnel refers to a journey – the loss and exploration in the transitional journey of life. One after another evasive metaphor comes through the images.
Massive metal aqueducts are important passages in water supply. This is a real-life scenario and a symbol – one that is akin to the bloodstreams that keep creatures alive. The scene is a space surrounded by metal ducts – no exit can be seen in the defined visuals. A pale and fragile lady dressed in glamourous clothes oddly shows up; she is lonelily placed in such a distant environment; she is totally out of place in the setting. Such arrangement, however, generated a supernatural interface that is similar to the fourth dimension.
This is an absurd placement arrangement, which presents an unusual experience. The gesture of the lady reminds one of a ghost: it directly depicts the scene in which the dexterities are out of control and not knowing what should be put where; a sense of strange dislocation is brought out. Although it is an image taken by a long shot, the stiffness of her facial expressions can be vaguely noted – not knowing how to respond to the situation that she exists and being unable to fall into the twisted condition, she demonstrates a kind of gloomy yet detailed loneliness. The feelings of being isolated, getting lost and being alienated come together in an even stronger and dark manner. The focus of the work gradually diverts to contemplation on the situation, the identity and other issues.
As for the arrangements in production, Almond Chu employed a technique that is unique to this series of work: while the handling of black and white in the originally shabby environment highlights its roughness, the work was processed and printed with platinotype, the most elegant method with the highest collectible value in the history of photography. Thanks to the graininess of the visual and the richness of layers, the printing quality and the tones of the picture are almost perfect. If you can look at the original, you will experience the charm of this printing technology. Adding gold leaves and geometric shapes and lines into the photographs, the low and dark tone jumps right up to another level. Another form of unique intervention technique handles the emphasis on the sense of distance through the use of the long shot; it is also an intentional rejection of subjective projection by the artist. Although this is a series of works, each is independent and do not have to be linked together. It also requires no lead in about the ups and downs as the key is about the fine details. As John W. Lennon once said ‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.’
Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking exemplified that passing through a time tunnel is entering “the fourth dimension”. As for the critical point of a time machine, as stressed by Hawking, it would be “the fourth dimension. The fourth dimension is all around us, but it is so small that it can be hardly noticed by the naked eyes. They exist in the rift of space and time.
In his series Horses 2008, Almond Chu gives us yet one more series of exquisitely made photographic works. Known for his superb black and white nudes and his stark compositions during the ʼ90ʼs, Almond Chu has since ventured into several new areas of expression. In recent years he has explored new themes and has worked in colour, both in and out of the studio, including urban documentary, still life, social commentary and experimenting with digital image manipulation.
With Horses 2008, he returns to his beloved monochromatic compositions. The images that were selected for the exhibition titled Zoology (Osage Soho, June 2008), depict semi- abstract compositions of disembodied horseʼs torsos and napes, brightly lit against a black background. The exception are two works depicting horsesʼ heads in circular vignettes. As with most of Almondʼs portraiture, the composition is kept to a minimalist level with clean, strong lines delineating the subject. These images truly bring out the classical and majestic beauty and power of these creatures. The rich texture of the horsesʼ skin and mane, offer a delightful break against the solid black background.
But there is more to Almondʼs photographs than just a strong composition or attention to detail, there is also a non-tangible quality, a sense of deep comprehension. The smoothness of the horsesʼ coat is unexpectedly broken by branding iron scars, intended to surreptitiously remind the viewer that no matter how proudly these animals stand, they are still considered property, they belong to human owners. The detail is impeccable and the choice of medium perfectly complements the subject matter. The series are printed on Hahnemühle Fine Art acid-free paper with pigment based archival inks.
The metaphoric Parade series of Almond Chu appears as a set alarm. For more than a decade these photographs have alerted individuals to the potential crisis of losing one’s identity and voice in a society.
Inspired by the last decades' parades and demonstrations, Almond Chu catches the impossible equation: under the seeming quietness of one unique conformist thought and the posture of Chu's disciplined characters, a new kind of society appears, on the edge of falling apart, and it freaks us. The seeming nihilism of the characters, all facing the same direction, draws the shadow of the revolt which tenses them.
“For years, my works have been exploring the ecology of the society and the issue of existence. I take repeated actions of individuals to represent the value orientation of the society. While the world has been unifying into one, our thinking tends to gear towards one end. People have become faceless with no personal opinion. They blindly follow the trend, repeat what others have said, and are unclear of their values of living."
The multiple repeated images of an individual depicted in the every day landscapes of the city create a harmonious yet disturbing ambience. These surreal parade marching scenarios reflects an inherent violence behind and through the perfectly arranged formations.
The recent events in Hong Kong have further revealed his work as a radiograph of the evolving society, just like a picture you put in a film developer.