8:20 a.m.

By Christie Chan 陳雍希

© 2020 Christie Chan 陳雍希. All rights reserved.

8:20 a.m.
Audio, watercolour on paper, printed paper, bedside table, clock

‘8:20 a.m.’ is an installation that consists of sound, poetry, drawings and found objects. It simulates a personal morning routine during lockdown: waking up to a news report read by a virtual assistant. 

Devoid of human emotion, the synthesised audio announces uncontextualised numbers in relation to specific dates, which in fact represent the cumulative deaths linked to the Covid-19 pandemic in England alone. Given the emotive topic, there is a certain irony in the emotionless tone of the virtual assistant. The re-staging of this desensitising experience, along with a haiku poem written in response to it, invite viewers to reflect on their attitude towards the numbers they hear in the media.

Since Covid has emerged, society has been bombarded with unfathomable statistics of fatalities and mass suffering. It’s unsurprising to see a growing ‘compassion fatigue’ in society, a tendency perhaps ingrained in human nature. However, indifference towards the death toll has manifested itself as the lack of precautions or defiance of the law by some members of the public. The apathy observed in society has inspired the creation of this installation, which is a reminder to not forget the humanity and realities of the individuals behind a numerical death count.

‘8:20 a.m.’ was selected for inclusion in the BALTIC Open Submission 2020 exhibition.

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