19th Art Division Grand Prize
50 . Shades of Grey CHUNG Waiching Bryan
CHUNG Waiching Bryan [United Kingdom]
This work is a conceptual and visual art piece that consists of six framed sheets. The artist used a number of old programming languages and software from the past 30 years to create the same graphic pattern with 50 different shades of grey. The title is a reference to the popular novel Fifty Shades of Grey, which was originally published as an ebook and later became a best-selling paperback. Though these software tools were once popular, they are now largely obsolete. The fear of obsolescence is a haunting theme in the computer industry as well as in the digital arts. In this work, the artist revisits each programming language like an old friend and revitalizes it with a new appearance and energy using the latest machinery, creating a visualization of the rise and fall of various forms of technology from the past.
Reason for Award
Unlike analogue media, which is a physical entity, digital media is essentially immaterial. On the other hand, it is based on an invisible world of hardware (machinery) and operation. The two are linked by a programming language. 50 . Shades of Grey consists of six kinds of source codes, which produce 50 gradations, ranging from black to white. Each character string, made up of completely different visual features, elicits the same image on the monitor through a hardware operation, but the result is not apparent for the viewer. A printed code is merely presented as an indecipherable, digital image. According to the artist, the six languages symbolize the historical evolution and obsolescence of computer technology. At the same time, the languages – from BASIC, which was created in 1964, the year the artist was born, to ActionScript, developed in 2000 – overlap with the artist’s life. Though its appearance is almost bluntly simplistic, the work is laudable for its gradually emerging, rich and varied layers. (SATOW Morihiro)