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Judy Cheung: FreeLinK tele-transportation

Travel around the world on a global highway through this exhibit that works like a tele-transporter.

There have been many schemes to connect the geographic world, but none have come close to realizing this vision as the Internet—the virtual highway. The concept of globalization is manifesting itself in many ways, including in a new media exhibition by Canadian artist Judy Cheung.

freeLink combines the optimism and opportunity of bridging between continents, both geographically and technologically. Cheung’s installation simulates a global highway that offers "passengers" transportation at the speed of light, free from the risks of natural disasters or terrorist attack. She has transformed the TechLab into a kind of tele-transporter (inspired by Star Trek) where visitors can be "beamed’ to new locations around the world.

Cheung has wrapped the TechLab with representations of the physical world—cities, mountains, water, bridges, and historical sites. Within this imagery are five miniature screens showing real-time Internet webcam broadcasts of current highway traffic conditions from around the world. When a visitor explores a particular location of freeLink’s geography, they might discover their own image appearing within the screen as though in another city. If they look long enough their virtual being might travel at the speed of light, to be taken on a virtual trip down the highway. Or they can walk around the world in the TechLab, following the virtual highway that links the world.

For Cheung, freeLink “reflects current socio-political consciousness while foreshadowing a utopian future—aspirations of freedom, equality, security, mobility and speed.” She says, “my artwork has involved a continuous inquiry into perceptual realities; examining ephemeral aspects of human activity evoked through transitory moments within the context of societal movements and urbanism. freeLink explores the travel phenomenon, inviting participants into a sensory and experiential journey, blending data from real space and fictional spaces, and offering an alternative perspective to existing social paradigms.”

About the Artist

Judy Cheung’s art practice considers ideas about homogeneity, globalization, and consumerism using the media of video, film, text, sound, and teleconferencing. She has exhibited across Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Her video work will appear at the 2006 Havana Biennial. She received her BFA from the University of Calgary and MFA from Pratt Institute, New York. Currently based in Vancouver, Cheung is also active as a teacher and curator.

Image credit, Judy Cheung, freeLink webcam image of Shanghai with figure.