Tristan Cai Singapore


As an artist and researcher, Tristan Cai works with archives and information, translating them into photography and sculpture installations. Drawn to the ambiguities and mysteries surrounding the subjects of death, creation and religion, he is interested in the cultural production of knowledge and the realities that humanity constructs in these domains. He draws inspiration from academic research and first-hand interaction with individuals, ranging from bio-ethicists, neuro-theologians to cult victims. Cai creates oblique narratives that references the challenging intersections of science and religion and the construct of human normalcy, while opening up the discourse on how the authenticity and propagation of visual information may influence our belief systems.


Tristan Cai

Tristan Cai was chosen by Finnish photographer Milja Laurila



Laatikkomo’s interview with Tristan Cai August 10th, 2013

Where are you from? (What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?)

Helsinki Finland- Singapore- San Francisco, USA , Have lived in all three and been influenced by all three places.


Does physical place or history of place hold an important role in your research, or are you more interested in psychological/emotional/theological history?

I am more interested in the ways reality is being constructed, and that includes history of place, as well as psychology, emotions and theology, they are all important.


Your work deals with narratives intertwined with scientific research. Science is for the most part based on a set of very strict rules which where as the practice of art is inconsistent.  How do you bridge or rationalize the gap between art and science?

As you mentioned science for the most part is based upon strict rules, and that is a very commonly accepted perception of science, further attributing to the field its authority. My art seeks to challenge this perception by means of parody, as it becomes increasingly clear that the authority of science like many other power structures are controlled by economics and other systems.


Through your research what questions do you want to reveal?

More than challenging power structures and authority, the tenacity and costs of how we try to determine knowledge about creation, religion and the supernatural makes an interesting and important reflection on humanity and where we are heading.


What questions are often overlooked?

With increasing access to media, is propaganda working much more effectively today, or do you think you are getting more ‘truths’ ?


Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work?

Propaganda, Politics, Reality, Circus, Authority, Perception, History, Future


What is your earliest memory of photography?

When I was about 8, I was appalled looking at photographs of my younger self, the way my parents dressed me up and made me pose in photographs. Photography has always been a ritual in my family, same faces, same events, year after year. Did I mention the same poses, props and composition?


Thank you Tristan!