Power, Corruption, and Lies
Edition 1 of 3 + 2 APs A sorting algorithm is used to non-destructively reorder pixels of photographs for distinct bodies of works that Cheung creates. Theoretically the images can be reassembled as if a hyper complex jigsaw to metaphorically suggest not repetitions but how history rhymes. ‘New Order’ series was partly inspired by the British band of the same name and from their album cover of ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ where Henri Fantin-Latour’s still life was used by the designer Peter Saville. He said that the flowers "suggested the means by which power, corruption and lies infiltrate our lives. They're seductive.” The title of the album was chosen from a 1981 conceptual art exhibition in Cologne, Germany when on the opening night the artist Gerhard Richter vandalised the exterior of the Kunsthalle by spray painting the text, ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’. Cheung’s New Order series was a reaction to the 2008 global financial crisis that led him to researching about the 1st recorded economic bubble and crash over the surreal speculation of tulip bulbs during the Dutch Golden Age over 370 years ago that at its peak individual bulbs sold for the price of a house. By using an algorithm that re-orders pixels of high resolution Rijksmuseum photographs of Dutch Golden Age still life, often featuring a tulip, they weave the romantic language of fragile mortality and futile materialism, the narratives of the birth of Modern Capitalism with the rise of the Dutch East India Trade company, Tulipmania and the repetition of history as it moves beyond the 2008 Financial crisis in the digital age. Visualised as dissolving digital sands of time, they echo Richter’s signature blurred paintings. The algorithmic blur in the New Order series is a metaphor of our existence in a data-saturated era, an Ozymandian corrosion wrought with degraded memories and histories written by victors. ‘History glitch’ is a series where Cheung uses the sorting algorithm to bear witness to current history by forming visuals that he refers to as ‘digital sands of time’. The ‘blurring’ suggests time in motion and also a meditative space of uncertainty to question the narratives of histories. A glitch is a mistake associated with technology that has been harnessed for aesthetic value to sometimes suggest nostalgia of a particular decade within an era of accelerating change. A glitch can occur when a bug in the code, loss of transmitted information or failure of hardware or software renders the result into strange renderings or for example the ability in games to go through walls and floors. This type of malfunction disrupts the persistence of perception and suspension of disbelief making us aware of the screen, pulling us away from the illusory and flickering in between the spaces of the actual and virtual. This notion of the information landscapes that we all navigate can become thresholds of worlds from where we can meditate about the who, what and why am I to explore questions about our humanity.