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  • Writer's pictureLina Chang

When you trace a line back from your family tree

When time becomes non-linear and sound becomes a way for us to capture a memory of place, people, and emotion, how do we relate to memory that then becomes embodied by listening?


Sound is both a keeper of moments that may not exist in the present with the ability to become a record bearer that’s able to transition in between the past, present, and future. Listening back, you’re able to re-encounter the past and situate yourself into the time that was captured.


During the Sound Laboratory residency, I looked into ways of reinterpreting my relationship to my family's memory and the memory I no longer have direct access to from distant passed-on family members in my family tree book . To imagine this sound, I referenced my own family's archive, jokbo (Korean geneaology book), which has part of my family lineage written down coming from my father's side of the family. By aurally mapping out the very map of my family tree and notes written down from my grandfather, I looked at ways in which how we can transmit our own memories and project them onto a space where the past, present, and future can co-exist at the same time.


By echoing out a voice that comes from the jokbo, I wanted to manipulate my sense of time by having a voice come back to me from the past into the present. A voice from someone in my family that may not be living now in the present, but is able to re-enter the same time and space I'm in by re-encountering their voice.


 

An echo from the map of lines, Lina Chang, 2023, Photograph of my grandfather's note and mixed audio recorded from South Korea, 00:01:00


An echo from the map of lines was a re-imagination of what a voice from my family tree book could manifest as if their voice from the time they were living could be projected onto the present. The original Jokbo spans all the way back, tracing to the first person that shared your last name. Each generation of my family is separated by columns, and as you go further back both in time and through turning the pages of the book, you encounter your distant family members. What would it sound like if the names of those were able to re-incarnate back into the present time in the form of a voice that acknowledges their own presence? If ink on paper of names from my family bled through the many layers of paper and print. Amassing in the form of a voice?


 


Research Diagram during the residency, Lina Chang, 2023.



 

If my body was a map, Lina Chang, 2023, Photo montage from my family's archive and recording of myself, 00:01:35.


If my body was a map is based on an audio essay I wrote where I examined my physical body as an extension of the family jokbo. The work showcases images from my own family's personal archive within the jokbo, showcasing photographs of the village my family on my father's side descended from in South Korea. The essay questions what another version of my family jokbo could look like, if my own body took on a form of a physical map - one that isn't shown just on paper but is housed within my body.



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