A sort of quotidian magic*
The "everyday" is being increasingly celebrated, accelerating at a rate that I tend to find alarming. The Internet has brought out a relentless documentation of the most banal moments—from sweaty party photos that make you seethe with social jealousy (even if the event itself was pretty lame) to the overabundance of archives of daily rituals and the endless blogs and public diaries that publicize their authors' meandering musings, ranging from the mindless to the erratically enlightening (sometimes achieved simultaneously). Reality TV shows allow the most average citizen a chance for fame, embarrassment, and general notoriety, the entire experience becoming normalized and expected. Each of these forums succeed on such a grand scale due to our own desires to break out of anonymity and cash in on what seems like everyone else's illogical good luck. If all those random dudes from college can make it rich on a bad karaoke video, why can't I? After all, I deserve it just as much as any one else.
Yet snapshots, those limitless tokens of our everyday, are eternal. An unabashed, populist classic, really. Now the ubiquitous convenience of the digital camera simultaneously lets us delete the worst photos and frees us from having to throw any away. The editing process becomes blurred and irrelevant, and pure accumulation is the easiest way to cope. And after all those images are absorbed, things become so automatically recognizable you don't even have to look at them—imagine American Surfaces as a modern day Flickr set. Jo-ey Tang takes these snapshots and amends them using scrapbook language—sticker dots, photo corners—so the anonymous photo takes on a sentimental, instead of accumulative, quality. Shot on various trips to locations both exotic and ordinary, these photos refute an otherness and instead replace it with a type of uniformity, a certain relatability provided by lack of specificity: I saw this somewhere, or, I could've seen this somewhere. These souvenirs of collective knowledge of the world provided and identified through 2-D images are made personal by the presence of the artist's hand. His sticker sheets and his photographs are unmistakably parallel, clearly marked only by what was taken away, obscured, and missing. What is left behind is a collectible conflation of the tangible evidence of the artist and the outside world that, no matter how often we capture it, still remains completely autonomous.
*(taken from statement by Jo-ey Tang)