Honolulu Museum of Art (2011)

54 digital inkjet prints mounted on wood dowels, rotating laser embedded in PVC pipes with metal brackets / 40 x 60 in


1. fine powdery refuse or fragile perforated wood produced by the activity of boring insects.
2. the excrement of insect larvae.

Chan’s work often ruminates on the ways in which cartography, photography, and printed matter simultaneously offer and occlude information. Frass originated in a rare and obscure source: an insect-damaged accordion book of 19th-century Japanese woodblock illustrations. Intrigued by the complex pattern of wormholes that meandered through the book’s pages, Chan scanned the folios, enlarged them, and superimposed onto their lattice-like surfaces Google Map photographs of approximately 20 miles of the U.S./Mexico Border. The resulting installation is comprised of 10 large-scale digital prints—each a composite of more than 300 intricate screen captures—mounted in the manner of roll-up maps, aligned horizontally, and anchored by a rotating laser that traces the border’s location from one image to the next.

Frass suggests analogies between insect detritus and topography, larvae tracks and the roadways established for the transport of people and goods associated with the Mexican maquiladoras [export assembly plants]. In juxtaposing the vantage points of satellite and worm, authorized cargo and illicit traffic, Frass documents the border as it currently stands and speculates on the imbalance of power between this arbitrary boundary, the individuals who navigate it, and the body politic that transcends it. Scheduled to coincide with the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, taking place in Honolulu in November, Frass reflects on how economic alliances promote free trade, even as they rely on national borders to criminalize the movement of people.

—Theresa Papanikolas, Deputy Director of Art and Programs, Honolulu Museum of Art