Tower of Angkor Wat

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neon and transformer




Shaping old and new forms of light, I seek to create a new visual language to take the place of the mother tongue I did not inherit. I want to preserve the culture they left behind and what will be lost with the passing of my relatives. Yet, how do I do this when I do not speak the language nor does my family talk about their past? I think about my grandfather who kept journals in a language I cannot read. I think about my grandmother who plays karaoke in a language that I cannot sing along to. How can I tell them that I am there? How can I tell them I belong with you? To honor them and the culture I feel I am losing, I harmonize digital and analog lighting to translate my conflicting self-perception as a descendent of immigrants and as a fully assimilated American. I desire to preserve family heritage yet I face an inability to do so in traditional ways. Through combining nearly obsolete sources with new technological advances, I use neon, digital projection, and artificial intelligence to highlight generational loss while cultivating a new identity.  "Tower of Angkor Wat" is a neon silhouette emulating one of the three towers of the world renown temple of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is the remains of a once all powerful kingdom containing centuries of ancient mythology and is held as one of the largest religious sites in the world. Yet, when thinking of Cambodia, many know it for its unimaginably violent history.  To recreate its image in light gives it new breath and wonder, yet the tangled wires show a foundation in disarray.

About this Artist

Daniella Thach

Daniella Thach

Daniella Thach (born 1998, Chicago, Illinois) is a light artist living and working in Northern Illinois. As a response to a mother tongue they never inherited, Thach creates a new visual language by drawing from old and new forms of light. Experimenting with harmonizing digital and analog lighting allows Thach to translate her desire, and inability, to preserve familial and cultural traditions in the midst of assimilation. In combining nearly obsolete sources of light with new technological advances, Thach uses neon, digital projection, and artificial intelligence to reflect on generational loss and the formation of a new identity.  Thach is of Khmer and Vietnamese descent. They graduated from The School of Art Institute of Chicago in 2021. Thach identifies as non-binary queer and uses they/them and she/her pronouns.
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