Map is a visual record of history. By studying old and new maps, a biography of people’s ideas and struggle for survival is revealed. Reading maps is actually reading people’s faces.
In 2021, I started a project of transforming old Hong Kong maps into abstract artworks. From streets to strokes, buildings to geometric shapes, it feels like mapping on my own skin to work on this series.
I employed a set of aerial photos in 1947 of the Kowloon Peninsula as the reference for “Map of A Myth IV”. The photos were taken during the first large-scale aerial survey by the colonial government after WWII, as part of the plan to rebuild the city in the post-war period.
There are two components in this painting – a face’s side view and street patterns. I arranged the colours and tones in such a way that the street patterns played a dominant role. I intended to lead the viewers to perceive the stripes as streets, but not as part of a human face’s bone structure. Once the viewers follow this line of thinking, the human face is barely recognisable. This is a metaphor for the notion of “alternative histories”. As long as one version of history prevails, it is not easy to see other possible interpretations.
Published in a well-noted magazine, this painting also won me a talent prize.
The concept of “Map of A Myth III” is to integrate street patterns with a human face. This is to reflect the reminiscence of the local history and anticipation of our future from a first-person narrative.
This won me my first participation in a group exhibition in the Switzerland. The project intended to portray the identity of community which deeply resonated for me. This work was also included in another online exhibition and a theme-based collection of works on uncertain identity.
Other paintings from this series took reference to old maps of the Central, villages, the Kwai Chung Container Terminal and the border area.