Art Division
Grand Prize

50 . Shades of Grey

Graphic art
CHUNG Waiching Bryan
[United Kingdom]
50 . Shades of Grey
©2015 Bryan Wai-ching CHUNG
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 pa- perback. 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 art- ist revisits each programming language like an old friend and revi- talizes it with a new appearance and energy using the latest machinery, creating a visualization of the rise and fall of various forms of technol- ogy from the past.
Reason for Award
Unlike analogue media, which is a physical entity, digital media is es- sentially 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 fea- tures, elicits the same image on the monitor through a hardware opera- tion, but the result is not apparent. A printed code is merely presented as an indecipherable, digital image. According to the artist, the six lan- guages symbolize the historical evolution and obsolescence of com- puter technology. At the same time, the languages – from BASIC, which was created 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 laud- able for its gradually emerging, rich and varied layers.
(SATOW Morihiro)