Grant Hao-Wei Lin

Oculus VR Headset, Blender, Epson Inkjet Large Format Printer

Tools Used

Parsons School of Design MFA Photography

School

Year

2022

Covenant Eyes is my Parsons MFA 2022 Photography Graduation Thesis. It is an introspective project rebuilding the truth and memory of the three years I spent at a religious cult as a gay man dealing with the ambiguity of brotherhood, masculinity, intimacy, and oppression. The project aims to question the connection between photography and memory by referencing Giulio Camillo's design of a Theater of Memory.

Covenant Eyes

Growing up as a closeted gay man within a conservative culture in Taiwan and immigrating to the US alone to join a distant religious family and eventually a cult, I had to take a long journey of breaking and repairing hostile relationships and communities life placed me into in order to live authentically today. While my life was abundantly documented in both analog and digital photographs, these photos from my early life don’t always reflect the reality of my memory.

Using the 3D modeling software Blender, I recreated a memory theater where I take photographs and retell the narrative of decisive moments that led to the traumas I had as a semi-closeted gay man in the church. I believe my personal narrative acts as a reminder for queer folks who have gone through or are currently going through similar experience that they have the power to bring their own narrative into the light.

The Zine

As I began to unpack the many untold stories of my time in the cult, my hope for the future is to create a detailed written narrative of how my journey took place in a graphic novel format. My zine acts as an exploration for that narrative.

Written in a somewhat linear yet occasionally fragmented timeline, the zine mixed in key internal and external dialogues that led to the initiation of my cult experience. It is ultimately a prelude to the different ways my identity as a gay man and my feeling as an outcast worked together with the cult’s aggressive evangelical tactics and led me into the traumatic, highly controlled, and monitored three years of my life.

 

Through this act of curating manifestations of my past, I want the viewers to see a glimpse of the different facets of the cult and my personal relationship with it.

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