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Every Contact

Ink Bottle (Francis Galton)

Heinz 57 Varieties (Ronnie Biggs)

Lightbulb (George Armstrong)

“Every contact leaves a trace” – Edmond Locard (1877-1966), French criminologist.

Fingerprints, a form of contact trace transfer, has since been extended from its traditional use for identifying criminals to its contemporary use as a biometric data to access security areas, electronic devices and border control. Its increasingly widespread use today poses potential security risks such as data breach and identity fraud, as well as potential misuse by authorities.

Every Contact is a series of works inspired by these issues. Its point of departure is the appropriation of fingerprint records from public archives. Fong conducted research at the National Archives and photographed (with permission) the fingerprint records of people of historical interest, such as the Great Train Robbers (1963) and Sir Francis Galton (pioneer in fingerprint analysis). Templates were then created from the photographed fingerprints and used as a resist for etching onto glass objects relevant to the history of the subjects. The works invite the viewer to explore the story behind the objects and consider the issues surrounding the contemporary usage of fingerprint and other biometric data.