from the series Infinitesimal Residual Vibration of An Unknown Sound
2009 – 2011
I like these photographs. These is a stillness to them that is intoxicating. The wonderful quotation by Charles Babbage (the air as a form of perpetual palimpsest) coupled with Yu’s insight that he sought to capture – through long time exposure, those infinitesimal residual movements of voice and sound trapped in the diffused movements of all the particles in the atmosphere – compliment the work. These are intelligent, emotive, quiet photographs.
Many thankx to Kaho Yu for allowing me to publish the photographs and text in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Kaho Yu and courtesy of the artist.
“The air is one vast library, on whose pages are for ever written all that man has ever said or woman whispered. There, in their mutable but unerring characters, mixed with the earliest, as well as the latest sighs of mortality, stand for ever recorded, vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled, perpetuating in the unified movements of each particle, the testimony of man’s changeful will.”
Charles Babbage, 1837
“The photographs in this series were taken during a period when I was feeling existentially bored. Instead of distracting myself with activities and accumulating new sensations, I decided to “look” at boredom, to study, and perhaps to understand it. The most natural strategy was to observe the immediate environments where my daily activities take place – train stations, cubicles, copy machines room, etc. I carried a medium format camera on a tripod and spent the odd hours wandering alone through those familiar spaces.
My “study” did not lead me to any revelation or answer. Instead, I found myself spending a lot of time waiting in a long silence, between the opening and the closing of the camera shutter.
Charles Babbage, a scientist in 1837, postulated that every voice and sound, once imparted on the air particles, does not dissipate but remains in the diffused movements of all the particles in the atmosphere. Thus, there might one day come a person equipped with the right mathematical knowledge of these motions who will be able to capture the infinitesimal vibrations and to trace back to their ultimate source.
Taking a long exposure, letting the light slowly accumulate an image on the celluloid surface, to me, is not unlike a sound seeker searching in the air particles, for the tiny residual movements that have been conveyed through the history of mankind, from the beginning of time.”
Kaho Yu artist statement