Artist Truc-Anh reluctantly combines his passion for art with the latest technology in his latest exhibition, The Quantic Family. By Claudia Davaar Lambie. Photos by Vinh Dao.

“I don’t want to put technology on a pedestal,” declared artist Truc-Anh, 33, which is not quite what you’d expect to hear from an artist showcasing their work at TechNoPhobe. The exhibition runs at the city’s newest art spaces, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (FCAC); an exciting venue that combines artwork with state-of-the-art technological apparatus by Saigon-based artists. French-Vietnamese painter Anh has produced a quirky installation named ‘The Quantic Family’. It’s a collection of both photocopied poster-sized images and 3D printed mask sculptures. Upon viewing Anh’s exhibition, the use of technology seems relatively subtle which makes it all the more intriguing, as does the use of some shocking imagery decorating the walls.

Making Sense of the World
Three walls encase the stunning installation, plastered with monocratic halved images of human face portraits stuck to other halved images of robots, carnival masks and Egyptian statue heads. The end result is a myriad of mismatched images that seem to collapse upon one another, capturing Anh’s fascination of a de-centralised sense of self where no person is fixed to any one tradition or location.

These images highlight the duality of the world that we live in: materiality versus spirituality, tradition versus innovation; aggression versus compassion. The expressionistic faces glare back at you, giving a slight sense of uneasiness. You’re not sure where to look.

Four 3D printed mask sculptures from Saigon-based Loga3D are displayed on black columns in front of the postered walls. The sculptures hark back to ceremonial masks used in rituals. They are a mix of indigenous designs combined with future-esque imagery. It’s this part of Anh’s exhibition that cleverly highlights the irony of technology: it is, in fact, devoid from spirituality and ritual.

The name of the installation, ‘The Quantic Family,’ is borrowed from Einstein’s science of quantum physics where one cell occupies two different moments. Explaining this in layman terms, Anh says that in this united ‘family’, people from all walks of life live together in this one world.

Anh helpfully points to the installation to give an example. The beauty pageant queen who adorns the postered walls lives in the same world as the sculptured mask of the woman who hides her face behind her burqa. These two women, from different cultures and different geographical locations, inhabit the world together.

Anh makes clear that the viewer can interpret his work in many different ways. “It’s not a point of view, it’s a belief,” he says. When creating ideas, he doesn’t want to simply illustrate the message. The meanings of his work are juxtaposed which correlates to Anh’s belief that the world is not simply linear.

“There are paradoxes of humans living together,” he says. Humans try to make sense of this world and themselves and, by doing so, create their own identities. ‘The Quantic Family’ allows the viewer to confront different cultures and different beliefs and the utilisation of technology is employed to destablise these accepted norms.

Technology in Art
The very question about using technology in his work highlights Anh’s belief about the world. Although the installation is seemingly low-tech, Anh wants to highlight that the digital era helps to create cultural conflict.

The exhibition TechNoPhobe exemplifies a dichotomy of meanings in itself. On the one hand, technology is embraced and, as Anh mentions, what technology brings to us today is very unique in human history. On the other hand, there is an aversion to technology. It is a powerful and invasive force in life and the very name of the exhibition encapsulates this fear.

Anh was surprised when asked to take part in TechNoPhobe. “I don’t use technology in my work but I saw this as a chance to come out of my comfort zone,” he says. First and foremost a painter, Anh saw the exhibition as a chance to push himself and try something new in his creative output.

Collaborating with RMIT and Loga3D was an experience for him. 3D printers, which work by printing tiny threads of filament on top of the other, are becoming popular. The process of creativity differs greatly in comparison to painting.

“Using technology such as 3D printers means your idea, from the beginning, has to be strong and in your mind, you can’t change [it] throughout the process,” Anh explains.

At first, this seemed strange to Anh who is used to allowing his ideas to evolve and mold, never following a definite concept. There may be an interruption of fluidity in his creations but the artist enjoyed bringing his work to a 3D realisation. In reality, however, for Anh, the medium of painting is his preferred technique for one simple reason. “Technology produces images but does not create them,” he adds.

Visit www.trucanh.com for more information about Anh’s work.