That way I feel more relieved

(Coming but might not be soon)

Photographs, archival materials, videos, recordings, embroidery.

In the summer of 2016, I received an email from a man I had never met or heard of. The content describes in great detail his intimate relationship with my partner.

Throughout the email, he professes his passionate love for her and his grief and rage at discovering she was also cheating on him with other men. By the end of the writings, he expresses his desire for me to reply and be empathetic so he can relieve his emotional guilt. I couldn’t help but feel a strange mix of anger, curiosity, and sympathy toward this man. Although I wanted to write back, I couldn’t find the words.

5 years later, I revisited the email and determined for a closure. Using my own story as an excuse, I begin interviewing Vietnamese men I encounter in my everyday life, whether they are acquaintances or absolute strangers. Combining their reactions with AI software, I construct a visual response to the email.

The project addresses cheating, a taboo topic in Vietnam that is rarely spoken among men but is regularly gossiped about by women. In a culture heavily influenced by Confucianism with a patriarchal system, it explores the minds of Vietnamese men, anatomizing their thoughts and feelings in perhaps the most extreme circumstances.

The narratives examine the Vietnamese men’s mindset toward women, as well as, the social gaze upon the male position in an ever-changing society, struggling to find its moral compass.

Excerpts from the interviews are used to generate AI photographs, taking advantage of the software’s vast and diverse image databases as a visual survey tool. These AI images then inspire the process of actual image-making. The final photographs are presented as diptychs alongside the AI images in numerical code format.