The Dust of Commemoration

Assist. Prof. Anupong Charoenmitr

Introduction :

“Reflection” is an art project that was funded by 20th SILPA BHIRASRI CREATIVITY GRANTS. Presents a visual perspective in memory through the process of exploring and reviving the story in the past. Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii are the important persons in the implementation of this project as Laotians who came into Thailand after the revolution in Laos in 1975. The period of Time, words, and stories from Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii had been the source of ideas that led to the creation of new imaginations to render a chance to watch the events that happened in the past. Places, people, events, and the witness object were simulated as representatives. Projection through direct experiences of Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii had not shown as only a specific role of personal story. But, the context area and the story were also a reflection of another perspective of a 17-years-old Laotian teenage girl, who participated in the event with Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii before crossing the Lao border into Thailand around the same time, the teenage girl in the story was “my mother”.

In 2007, before my mother passed away, in the same year. Conversation between mother and son had arisen and was still circulating in my mind. The told story of hers, when she was selling things at Vientiane Market, even if the told story was just like an indistinct picture but it was a meaningful story that had never faded from my reflection. This reflection aroused the search for her root. The stories that she spoke were only superficially led the way in the quest to get to know her during the missing time.

The narrative through the memories of Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii was an important part in projecting the cross border events which was not just the physical borderland, but it had been a borderland that built on the ideal of narrative through a new imagination, the “borderland of memory”.

The borderland of memory is an area of thoughts that has no definite boundaries, it is an unpredictable area. Sometimes the told story led to interest in events, depicted the apparent pictures in the mind, and sometimes also had created some dilemma upon hearing. But the elements of the narrative that happened in 1975 had filled up the dented memory. It is comparable to dust particles that cannot be

seen with the naked eyes thereby forming a picture that moves around the story that is composed like, a Jigsaw. The new creation of representation within the reminiscence is regarded as one of the agendas of the journey in order to stare the memory space with consideration through places, time, and events.

The artwork “The Dust of Commemoration” in the project of “Reflection” is like a journey in the borderland of memories. The destination may not be the end of the journey. But it was likely an important chance to view the story during the journey which presented through the representation in this artwork. It is regarded as an artistic witness object that confirmed the existence of thought to fulfill the hollows of memories. It is presented in a video installation that consists of 2 parts: 1) Moving image with no beginning, no middle part, and there is no end. 2) The dust particles created by the filming process; invisible dust particles can be seen when the incident light is in the proper angle. The particles were brought to enlarge and spread the floating in space to simulate space in memory and create a new environment.

At the end of the implementation of this project may cause the perception of something and although still cannot understand many things, but at least the unclear pictures had appeared in imagination. Therefore, it is considered evidence that reflects the memory that “still remains… in reflection”.


1. To create artwork in the form of video installations.

2. To look for new possibilities in the physical development of artwork.

3. To use artwork to reflect the memory content through the process Practice-Based Research


The origin of the project idea and the development of the artwork including all processes from the beginning. The beginning of the creation of this artwork arose before the time of my mother’s pass- away in 2007. It is the told story of when my mother was a teenage girl in Laos having to travel across the border to Thailand due to the revolution in Laos in 1975. A piece part of the story as an origin opened up a new perspective of getting to know my mother as a Laotian which was a story that she never told. Her photo raised questions about her past that she had never told. Small dust particles floating around in one area of the house covered her photograph. Small dust particles are invisible to the naked eyes, at a certain point in time, the invisible floating dust becomes visible to the eye when the incident light is at the proper angle. “Whenever the incident light appeared then dust particles could be seen. But even without light, the dust particles still exist.”

If living together is an experience and the experience is one of the components of memory formation. The assembling this memory space, it must be an area that expanded the scope or was compacted as much as the imagination launched at that moment. Therefore, memory is a space that cannot be bounded. There is not any borderland that has an area in the measurement unit. The direct experience of confrontation contributed to the formation of memories in many aspects. Sometimes, trying to remember something does not confirm that the subject matter is permanent. Conversely, the experience of a shared memory between mother and son at the beginning of this story, was only a small area in a very short time. Little story that try not to remember but is still ingrained in the memory just like a shadow that doesn’t leave a distance.

Over 10 years, an imperfect story of the mother had been still lingering in my memory that pushed the force in creating the artworks. The search of information from stories, the interviews with Mrs. Kham and Mr. Gaii, who had experience with mother. The details of the narrative do not confirm or influence the historical beliefs of anyone. If that the context area, events, and narratives of the mother reflects on mother’s life as a new memory and moves around in art space which have been created as representation. It’s a part of knowing and understanding. Crossing borders as territory and space may not be the goal of trying to reach. Crossing the present borderland to go into the borderland of memory is regarded as an important part of how moving images opens up a space of possibilities and confirms the existence of the space of memory. A space of memory that was rummaged and

found was an unpredictable border that mixed between the curiosities as well as the dilemma feelings as caused by understanding.

In the process of creating an ideal image to reflect the perspective on the stories in Vientiane Laos in 1975, the appropriation of photographs by journalist and photographer Norman Peagam and photographs from a traveler, Bob Carlsen, in order to create this artwork. Wide-angle landscapes and telephoto views had been brought in synchronize with the narrative to create the ideal images through the experimental process of creating images in Alternative Process Photography. The visualization of the process of the Alternative Process Photography is formed by a chemical reaction that works when the incidence light is on the plane surface coated with a photosensitive substance and, that creates the new appearance, shapes, form, light and shadows to reappear as to represent the pictures in memories. Finally, the reversed process of developing photographic (Negative – Positive – Negative).

The visual field of memory from the experimental process of creating works had reduced the details of the original images. The creation of the new atmosphere of the landscape in order to reflect the perspective on the story in memory is comparable to an opportunity to travel to explore the borderlands of memory. The small dust particles floating in the space move around to create the memory space. The enlargement and projection of dust particles to be bigger that can be seen in several planes of the art space aimed to persuade the interpretation of the existence of things that may not be as visible as compared to dust. “The dust of commemoration” is therefore like a “shrine of remembrance” to affirm the thoughts of the departed person.

Techniques and Materials:

Video Installation, Color, 4K video, sound, Darkroom, Dimension variable

Duration: 9 min 9 sec, Loop


1. Present artwork to reflect personal memories.

2. The development of the creative process and the physicality of the video installation.


Martin Stuart-Fox. (2556). ประวัติศษสตร์ลาว [A HISTORY OF LAOS] (จิราภร วิญญูรัตน์,แปล).กรุงเทพมหานคร: มูลนิธิโครงการำราสังคมศาสตร์และมนุษย์ศาสตร์(ต้นฉบับปีค.ศ.1992).

ซิลเวีย มาร์ติน. (2552). วิดีโออาร์ต [Video Art] (สมพร วาร์นาโด, แปล). กรุงเทพมหานคร: เดอะเกรทไฟน์อารท์ (ต้นฉบับปีค.ศ.2006)


Norman Peagam. (na). Laos These pictures were taken between 1973 and 1977,

mainly in and around Vientiane. [online]. Retrieved 3 January 2021, from: /photos/np485/albums/72157675793994014


Bob Carlsen. (2011). Market in Vientiane. [online]. Retrieved 14 March 2021, from