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The Ruins of Lost Souls

Photo Collage

2023-ongoing

The Ruins of Lost Souls is a series of black-and-white collage images, which involves the use of generative AI technology to produce surreal details. This piece is inspired by the research of traditional taboos, body discrimination and bullying of marginal people in my previous series The Skeletons in the Closet (https://www.hungchingyan.com/the-skeletons-in-the-closet). It’s also my visual response to how my family’s health status has impacted my exploration of my own identity and existence in recent years.

 

The background of this creation comes from the fact that my family was diagnosed with a genetic disease - Marfan Syndrome in 2016. At that time, all my family members and I were taken for blood tests. In the end, only I was diagnosed with a negative result of this disorder. As a member of the family, I was surprised and confused by this news. Even though I am not a disease carrier, I feel that my family has been judged by medical authorities as "unwanted people" in the concept of eugenics. This blow made me not know how to face myself and my family, and it also made me question my identity in the family. In the process of entangling with my marginalised identity, I started exploring the world of abandoned sites, which are quiet places to help me temporarily forget my worries. These places are described as "negative spaces", as their existence is not recognisedI felt scared and uneasy at the beginning to enter the ruins, however this feeling turned to a sense of curiosity and an extraordinarily calm. I finally understood that my uneasiness that came from my lack of understanding of these places. Similarly, my uneasiness about my family’s situation came from the lack of understanding of such genetic disease. The abandoned sites made me understand that the source of fear is ignorance of things, and the experience of viewing ruins is a way of self-healing.

 

In addition to the metaphor of abandoned sites, the work also uses "pigeon" and "spider" masks, as well as other body props to imitate the physical characteristics of patients with Marfan syndrome. These patients are also known as "Pigeon Man" or "Spider Man" because of their unusually long bone structure, protruding sternum, curved joints, and drooping facial features. By portraying their looks of exposing the weird appearance I played in front of the camera, I can feel the external gaze received by my family members. Through this experience, I understand how traditional physiognomic concepts affect the way modern people look at disables, and its reflection on the prevalence of body discrimination in modern society.

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