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Ads Named Desire

Collage, 2020

The content of this collage is taken from the advertisement section of an issue of the Sing Tao Daily, a newspaper mostly circulated in the Chinese immigrant communities in the US. 


The advertisement section of any newspaper is fundamentally different from all of its other sections in that the information here has a direction. Every piece is an offering. Every offering speaks to human desires – the desire of the advertisers and the desire of the potential viewers. The readers’ desires have been categorized by the topics of the ads: prostitution, marriage, artificial insemination, and obituary (from left to right in this work, and from birth to death in life). The advertisers’ desires are implicit, but have to be stronger to initiate such a flow of information. 


It is difficult to watch the growth and fall of an individual pine tree in the forest of Maine. It is much easier for observation if it is transported to the Sahara desert, where its background offers a sharp contrast. Comparably, human desires are universal, but might be more obvious when an individual is placed out of their “natural habitat”. The US society serves as the stark backdrop for the Chinese immigrants who post and read these ads. 


Does the immigrating pine tree in the Sahara desert share most of the characteristics of its peers in Maine? The act of observation could have an impact on its subjects (even beyond the quantum world), let alone their impressions. Any impression is a layering of subjective bias and objective phenomenon. The existence of the former doesn’t negate, but rather in an unavoidably imperfect way, presents the existence of the latter. Who’s to say the desert-rooted pine tree is any less (or more) pine-tree-y than the forest-rooted ones?

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