#Thai1516 is a reforming collage photographs from an interactive photo project that has been installed at three exhibitions throughout Thailand in 2015-2016: (#memo0515 Photo Exhibition At Angkrit Gallery, Chiang Rai in October 2015 – F/28 | The Chiang Mai Month of Photography at The Old Chiang Mai Culture Center in February 2016 and Journeys of Us Exhibition at Art and Culture Museum, Khon Kaen University in December 2016.)

The project depends on the ubiquity of digital image-making in everyday life and its role in social media as the newest iteration of public space. The photo-booth consists of a backdrop of a sky watermarked with the Thai flag, a digital photo-printer, and a display canvas. During the exhibitions people took their photos before the backdrop, and then uploaded them to social media tagged with hashtags specific to each exhibition.

The hashtags #penthai and #thai express memory, identity, and freedom. The hashtag depends on the ambiguity of Thai national identity; these words can both also mean “free.” Thailand, then, could be translated as “land of the free. A selfie taken in front of a barely visible Thai flag tagged with The hashtags has implications that point to the imagined (and imaged) nature of Thai identity, and the suppression of free speech perpetrated by the current military regime that rules the country.

The photos were then printed out in real time in the gallery and installed on the canvas to create a composite image of the Thai flag. The photo-booth piece embraces the democratized state of image-making that digital media has created and how this relatively new freedom allows people to constantly construct their political, ethnic, sexual, and social selves, even while living under draconian regimes in Thailand.

 

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