/13 Vietnam

Binh Danh


Immortality: The Remnants of the Vietnam and American War

In this series, I have recorded the images of the Vietnam War onto and into tropical plants. One summer, I was motivated to experiment with photosynthesis and its pigments after observing how grass changed color under a water hose that was left on the lawn. Soon after that, I was making chlorophyll prints. In my work, photosynthesis is used to record images onto leaves using only chlorophyll and light: the life source of plants and, consequently the Earth. The leaves are then cast in resin, like biological samples for scientific studies. This process deals with the idea of elemental transmigration: the decomposition and composition of matter into other forms. The images of war are part of the leaves, and live inside and outside of them. The leaves express the continuum of war. They contain the residue of the Vietnam War: bombs, blood, sweat, tears, and metals. The dead have been incorporated into the landscape of Vietnam during the cycles of birth, life, and death; through the recycling and transformation of materials, and the creation of new materials. As matter is neither created nor destroyed, but only transformed, the remnants of the Vietnam and American War live on forever in the Vietnamese landscape.