East Vs West - Stereo mirror installation
As human beings we possess many subtle ways of determining who are the "natives" and who are the outsiders. While looks and speech play a role, they are less important than is generally believed. More significant is the common sense of identity that a group's members are able to draw on to recognize each other.
This common sense of identity is developed through many shared cultural experiences and is made up of the collective memory of past events, ideas, people, places, etc. I have found that members of any community, just by discussing random bits of these experiences, can quickly discover those who are native members.
For example most people born in the United States remember, depending on their age, key cultural events. Many can recall vividly where they were on 9/11 or the day Kennedy was shot. They can easily discuss the popular songs of their youth and the clothes that were worn. They know all the “big games” that were won or lost and the celebrations that followed.
However for the first 21 years of my life I experience a completely different set of events. The names, faces, music, food, fashion and sports teams that I remember belong to a different world.
The result is I now have a hybrid cultural identity. It is an identity that is neither entirely Eastern nor Western. This work attempts to capture some the conflict that exists in my own mind between these two identities. The photographs on the right represent the people, places and events that I experienced in Malaysia. The images on the left represent my experiences here in America.
Viewed stereoscopically the human mind cannot perceive both images simultaneously. At any given point in time it must choose one or the other. The work is intentionally confusing and uncomfortable to view in order to convey the difficult choices that cultural outsiders are often required to make.