whitepages [2017-2020]

The whitepages project is an object-oriented multimedia installation, with scheduled live performance. It examines the phone book as an archive, simultaneously mediating its continuous present and contextualized history. Using projected datasets, generative number pad sound composition, and prepared/modified phone books, whitepages creates a space to examine names, phone numbers, addresses, and their ongoing relationships to communities of diaspora as citizens and as settlers. 

Today’s population in BC’s Lower Mainland is much more Chinese, vastly different from the one that I grew up with. The rapid influx of Chinese migration from the late 80’s to the early 2000’s was a result of overseas global events, particular foreign policy, and Canada’s now defunct immigrant investor program (IIP); the phone book becomes a time capsule of conditions preceding our contemporary concerns regarding the housing market crisis and linguistic policy. It raises questions about who was permitted to own land, who was recognized according to the government, and even points to a rumoured time when Chinese were allowed to own land, but were recognized by the label ‘CHINESE’ instead of by name in phone books. With contemporary technology, we are now at the tail end of transacting public ‘information’ into the currency of public ‘data’. Access to this digital material is immediate, direct, and efficient. The phone book offers an alternative perspective, one that holds the complexities and weight of the decisions that brought us here.

This project is developed in collaboration with artist and researcher Kevin Day.

Presentations of the whitepages project:

The whitepages project is currently in development, expanding on the ways in which the physical representation of these phone books can be the subject in visual representation.