Fei Hao Chen
Fei Hao Chen is a Chinese-born, Canberra-based visual artist, in his second year of study of the Bachelor of Visual Arts Degree (Digital Media) at the Australian National University.
Fei Hao has a broad interest in art. His recent efforts and focus lie in video art, as well as sound and music, and the way they interact with each other.
Three Tourism Commercials is a video piece made as a response to the exhibition Australian Journeys. It draws inspiration from the Australia is Like This archival footage produced for American soldiers who were stepping on Australian soil for the first time. It is a reflection of Australia, of its landscapes, people, atmosphere and attitudes. A lot of the exhibition pieces were often retellings of people's connections with place. These stories were not of the objective kind, but rather, subjective. They were about how people saw Australia and what they thought it to be, so I guess it is appropriate to say that when we were looking at the exhibition works, we were often seeing them through someone else's eyes.
Cinema and photography have a way of weaving stories and constructing realities. Photographs can help represent a nation's identity. Therefore, in this case, Three Tourism Commercials could also be viewed as a representation of Australia. However, the funny thing is, the term 'Australia' here is to a certain degree ambiguous. We will have to ask ourselves what it is exactly? A country? A representation of a country? A person, or it is no more than merely a name?
The technique of tilt shift photography used in this work presumes the viewers' perspectives and positions and the relations between them and the viewed object. It is as if we are gods watching miniature versions of ourselves from above, and it is a comment on the museum-goers' attitudes towards the exhibition. Moreover, it is about the artist himself, and how he felt when he was within that space.
Sound stimulates your imagination, and it is even more effective than visuals, on an emotional level at least. The idea of the audio track laid beneath this video is based on the concept of granular synthesis, which is in short, chopping sounds into tiny fragments on a micro-sound time scale. These bits, called grains, are then rearranged into a new sound.
Granular synthesis explores the nature of sound, and it is utterly relevant to the subject we are talking about here — the history of Australia — from which arises another question: should we read the history as a whole or is it better to split it into sections and examine it in pieces?
Three Tourism Commercials raises a lot of questions, similar to this quest of establishing a nation's identity. It is an ongoing process. There is not a definite answer, or at least we have not found it yet.
Beware! When you look at history on a canvas from a distance, it will look back at you.
Title: Three Tourism Commercials
Date: May 2009
Australia is Like This film
Australia is Like This is an Australian made propaganda film which illustrates an American soldier's letter home through his activities in Australia. The film, produced in around 1944, is featured in the Australia Journeys gallery and highlights the impact of Americans on Australia during World War Two.