A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Tran, Tam Van


"I've been thinking about the idea of transmission
and how information and arcane knowledge are transferred and received in both linear and non-linear fashion. How is it that an accomplished Buddhist teacher can transmit essential teachings without language to his students while we pass on information through TV, faxes, emails and glances. To facilitate such ideas, I've been drawing spacecrafts and broken down satellites. They emit signals of different languages from found images such as candy wrappers and newsprint written in Chinese and Vietnamese. I think of these drawings as organic machines in disrepair demanding our services, as it gradually becomes obsolete. There's a humor in trying to keep all the machines that we've created from breaking down. Having grown up in Vietnam I'm continually fascinated by technology especially the potentials of their application.

"These reality machines that inhabit the drawings are like minds, traveling from one thought to the next. Perception is cut up, distorted and full of disillusions. The recent paintings and drawings of buildings, spacecraft and maps are like tonal poems suggesting ideas of home (lessness), escape and displaced feelings. One could say they are 'mindscapes'."

Tam Van Tran, Notes from L.A., [2000]

Gallery of Selected Works