The difficult task of confronting climate change requires a fundamental reimagining of the power dynamics between people and the natural world, and societal assumptions about property, capitalism, culture, and progress. Frank Chang’s multimedia work rethinks the interconnected issues surrounding climate change activism in an increasingly uncertain future, providing springboards for deeper investigations into the entangled and complex interrelationships between climate, social, and cultural issues. Alongside the increasingly dire climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have foregrounded many of the same inequities and uncertainties, provoking ever more apparent and urgent anxiety—what will the future be like? Chang’s recent work blends historical artifacts and forms with contemporary scientific data, official or bureaucratic documents, and media imagery to make a magpie-minded collection of objects that are both familiar and discordant. These works appropriate historical forms and techniques, such as unfired clay tablets like those originating from Mesopotamia, inked rubbings like those produced throughout Chinese history, and the technique of paper squeeze, developed by 19th-century archaeologists exploring Mayan sites. Works made from Chang’s speculative archaeology are not intended as replicas of specific artifacts, but instead are ways to call attention to the significance of the present moment, similar to strategies used in science fiction and, more recently, “cli-fi” (climate fiction). By collapsing temporality, Chang’s practice unsettles seemingly straightforward concepts such as past/present/future and authenticity/artifice.
Frank Chang’s work has been exhibited at Dartmouth College, the Torrance Art Museum, Museum of Jurassic Technology, LA Design Center, Woodbury University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, among others. Formerly the co-director of Monte Vista Projects in Los Angeles, and he was a contributor to the book Dispatches and Directions: On Artist-Run Organizations in Los Angeles and to the journal MATERIAL. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.