Holly Lee - Both Sides Now



The exhibition consists of four series of work: Scapes, PictureWords, Flip-books and Both Sides Now. While photography is the medium, I explore words and images, and ask questions on time. Technology has made everyone a good snap-and-shoot photographer, and it belongs not only to the rich and knowledgeable. I am using photography at a different angle, I paint self-portrait, I shoot what you can see is not all you can get. A good exercise for the eye and mind.

Scapes is about abstractness. Imageries are everywhere. Sometimes they make sense and dance around until you make a move to acknowledge them. To me, these ordinary, banal surfaces have become serene. I filter through them in different dimensions.

PictureWords is an on-going photo project I began in 2014. It is a visual exploration of the Chinese writing system, which dated back more than 3,500 years ago. Fundamentally, Chinese characters were created using a combination of phonetic, ideographic and logographic elements. Over thousands of years these characters have evolved into more sophisticated and complex forms, while their primeval forms recede in time.

My returning passion to Chinese poetry is the main inspiration in PictureWords. In this exhibition, I present three works based on verses taken from three Chinese poets: Du Mu 杜牧 (803-852 AD), Lee Yu 李煜 (937-978 AD) and Xin Qiji 辛棄疾 (1140-1207 AD).

The idea of the Flip-book project was developed a few years ago. While mourning the slow fade-out of the analog medium, I feel constantly overwhelmed by the massive amount of digital images produced every minute and second of the day. Data, despite their huge presence, are invisible and untouchable without a technological device. Without the device, there will be no access to but only vague memories of whatever had been created.

Doing the flip-book is a rebellion. By the mere action of the thumb, it is a naive attempt to claim back a small, chosen fraction of our memories. The process, though labour intensive, does lead to some interesting exploration on the characteristic and meaning of time. Time's relation to movement, the scale of time and the history of time. All so mysterious and philosophical, a question too big to find an answer, if there is one at all.

The series of Both Sides Now consists of objects connected to me in certain points of my life. A bowl, a small figurine, a paper cup, a postcard, a maple leaf. The objects were photographed front and back, and presented with images back to back in selected domestic frames. Every object is a dot of life, pause to a continuing state of consciousness, a link to many missing, forgotten moments of existence.

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