Monday, 27 December 2010

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Friday, 24 December 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010


(The Little One is Dreaming, Study, 1881, Paul Gauguin)

Tate Britain's Eadweard Muybridge is surprisingly beautiful. The works are more than 130 years old but still inspiring. White Cube's Gregory Crewdson's Sanctuary was surprisingly boring, but as usual, pretty. White Chapel's Walid Raad's Miraculous Beginnings is highly conceptual, systematic and impressive. I like the second room - Making the Familiar Strange in Paul Gauguin's Tate Modern exhibition.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Every term one of the most exciting and enjoying part is the crit. Unlike previous ones which we printed and stick on white walls, this year we use projector. The Rollei film projector is amazing with such a vivid cinematic quality, but as the film mount is only good for 6 X 6 or 6 X 4.5 and our trannie is 6 X 7, we have to use the digital projector to project the scanned images, which the quality can not compare with the film one. The reaction was nice especially the formal qualities. Although most of the mates are ok with conceptual idea, there are a few who do not get it. We might put some statement in final submission. There are quite a few good projects and shots. For me, the most impressive was Anonymity in the City. I love the sense of isolation expressed by the beautifully lighted series.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


by Muntean / Rosenblum

Finally, as the project and the essay are finishing, I managed to have some free time to wandering around galleries. London is full of hidden gems. Maybe not hidden for others, but for me, they are hidden. Most galleries I visited today are for the first time. First Photofusion (Member group show), then Jerwood Space (This Must be the Place curated by David Campany), Gagosian is closed, Maureen Poley (Muntean / Rosenblum) and Finally Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Show. I instantly fell for Muntean/Rosenblum’s works. The image plus the text are very touching. It is cinematic, concise, and poetic… which has a very strong impact on me. I did not found this years portrait prize show intriguing. I felt that the statement from many photographers are overplaying the issues of social study, relationship etc… I did not have the same refreshing feel as last year. I found myself is sometimes seeing too much biography (just like the media, critics, and statement do), story and context, rather than the image itself. I would rather free myself to see and feel more of an image than the discursive analysis.

Monday, 6 December 2010


To quote Robert’s writing from our group blog:

Final shoot: less flesh in the shots makes a difference, so we needed to ensure that any exposed flesh was well lit.

Composing the image to suggest a tension between the woman gazing at the priest whilst being held by the hand and in the loving? desiring? gaze of another woman.

Suggesting a conflict between the women and the priest, the church and beyond regarding their relationship? Sexuality?

There is an absence of rhetoric from the church about love between women, sex between women thus made invisible and therefore silenced. The image suggests all sorts of possible relationships between the characters. The priest is looking away which is significant - a way of ignoring, silencing the 'other' and not acknowledging their existence,

Sunday, 5 December 2010


We used 90mm which is equivalent to around 44mm and hence there is still wider angle than our standard 50 at D700. It explains the small perspective difference and the little inconvenience to get rid of he rim of the curtain while using D700 50 lens was of no problem at all at the same position at that time. We used 127 for the first week though. 110 equivalent 53, 125 equivalent 62. I didn't do the proper lens research until now, another hindsight!

There are a wide variety of lenses available for the RZ67:

4 wide-angle lenses:

37 mm f/4.5 Fisheye, the widest RZ lens ever produced, 18 mm equivalent in 135-format

50 mm f/4.5 ULD L, 2 versions (the older one is inferior in terms of contrast and resolution, the ULD version has an additional floating system focus ring), 24 mm equivalent

65 mm f/4, two versions (the second one has a floating element), 32 mm equivalent

75 mm f/3.5, with floating element, 36 mm equivalent

3 normal lenses:

90 mm f/3.5, 44 mm equivalent

110 mm f/2.8, smallest of the RZ lenses, also has largest aperture, 53 mm equivalent

127 mm f/3.5 and an older model f/3.8, 62 mm equivalent

8 telephoto lenses:

150 mm f/3.5, 73 mm equivalent

180 mm f/4.5, 87 mm equivalent

210 mm f/4.5 APO, apochromatically corrected design, 102 mm equivalent

250 mm f/4.5, 2 versions (newer one is APO), 121 mm equivalent

350 mm f/5.6 APO, 170 mm equivalent

360 mm f/6.0, an older lens, 175 mm equivalent

500 mm f/6 APO and an older model f/8, longest of the RZ lenses, 238 mm equivalent

6 specialty lenses:

75 mm f/4.5 Short Barrel, possible to use with a tilt/shift adapter for perspective and focus plane control, needs an SB spacer for normal 75 mm use, 36 mm equivalent

75 mm f/4.5 Shift, perspective control lens, needs manual cocking of the shutter, 36 mm equivalent

140 mm f/4.5 Macro, two versions (the newer one with floating element system), able to shoot 1:3 without extension tubes or bellows and 1:1 with extension tubes 1 and 2, 68 mm equivalent

180 mm f/4 Variable Soft Focus, uses three interchangeable diffusion and spherical aberration disks for soft effect, 87 mm equivalent

180 mm f/4.5 Short Barrel, for tilt and shift adapter, needs an SB spacer for normal 180 mm use, 87 mm equivalent

100-200 mm f/5.2 Zoom, the only RZ zoom lens, 48-97 mm equivalent

Monday, 29 November 2010


Frame 3 – Work in Progress

We did the fourth shooting. This time we managed to finish the third frame. It was quite improvising. We brought quite a few props, and tried different set-ups out. Photography is a visual way to express. Sometimes you can visualise in mind but you better shoot and see the image to decide if you like or not. On top of this, you could try different setups by just combining different props when shooting, and sometimes there might be something different than you have expected. Anyway, we tried to create a signifier for colonisation. I became one of the models. Standing or kneeling for even just one hour will be quite tiresome. When I had to freeze myself for the final film shooting after digital trials, it was not easy after long time of modelling, I could feel myself move a little, which I knew it is so bad for shooting, as a tiny movement will cause some inaccuracy of composition. Constructive shooting needs everything to be precise as planned, prop position, model posture, lighting, exposure, focus, everything… It has to be a combination of perfection to achieve a good constructed photo. Anyway, it was quite tiresome maybe because my knee problem etc. As we run out of Polaroid we were not quite sure of the final result. Look forward to seeing the transparency to be developed next week. It should be ok.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Rachel has given us a new tutorial session of scanning and retouching designed specifically for our group project on transparency. It’s hard to remember. Will need some practice…

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Five of us went to see ParisPhoto 2010.

We first went to the Le Bal to see ‘Unamed America’ curate by David Campany. It showed American prospect in a cold and detached way. Jeff Wall’s heavily constructed but photojournalism style images were the most attractive. It depicted a turning point in daily American life narrative. Lewis Baltz’s minimalism industrial park shot looked impressive in the grid presentation. I saw his work before but in a single shot format and this grid presentation made a difference in visual impact.

The main Paris Photo exhibition is in Luvre. I was overwhelmed by thousands of images. I walked around and around but could not finish viewing everything in good time. I tried to shoot the images that I like. Maybe because I studied Affect Theory, I spotted many artworks on body. I would have never paid much attention to those works before. There are quite a few images with darkness and void. I am always interested in this issue and I decided to work on my own version of darkness and void images. Another thing I found is that Photoshop is my handicap in my photography. Many artists used photoshop to created so many fantastic jobs. I am not sure if I could achieve this due to my constraint of photoshop skill. Anyway, it was hard to tell which image is the most impressive and how many images I could remember vividly. There are just too many…

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Scanned from Transparency

Studio 5

Some minute changes in set up with a new model and we finalised the second set up. A little changes in eye direction or position of the model etc makes great changes in the composition. A few Polaroid and another roll of transparency! The second Frame done.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Scanned from Transparency

Studio 5

I became the cameraman for the first shot. After a few tests on digital, based on the lighting set up in the second shooting, I used Mamiya RB67 for Polaroid test with 80mm lens and then started shooting on Fuji Provia 100 transparency. I shot the 10 frame in one go bracketing. I was quite nervous even though I am familiar with the set up and the sitters. It was quite pressurising. I understood the sitter was standing there for a long time and I really wanted just to finish shooting and achieve the assignment. At the same time, I worried about the quality of the shot and was afraid to re-shoot in case of any imperfection. Anyway, in hindsight…

The focus is not easy especially when modelling light is not bright enough, so I should have increase the modelling light intensity and focus in a proper environment, though the focus was accurate.

I was bit clumsy, as I was not familiar with RB67. I used smaller Bronica and Mamiya before but RB67 is the first time, so I should have played with the kit to get familiar before shooting.

The scene in the viewfinder is smaller than the actual shot. I noticed it in the Polaroid print but I was not sure and hoping it was not the same for film. So I should have known the camera better.

I wanted change the set up by asking the sitters to step back a bit, but I just didn’t. I was worrying making too much hassle for them.

Anyway, the developed transparency looked nice but due to the viewfinder problem the black background rim showed at left and right edges of the each frame. There was one perfect though. We will use this one for scanning, printing and submission.

Monday, 22 November 2010


F8 125 fill @ 75% and red filtered light. Honey comb light at 30%.

Studio 2; Elinchrom Lighting Kit; 2 Power Packs; Honeycomb etc.

Scanned from Polaroid.

We shot for the second time in studio. The only difference is that we have put a light with red gel at the background. Red always goes with religion culturally and the final result is quite atmospheric.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Prolinca Studio Lights Kit
Lighting Inspired by Caravaggio

We started the first shooting studio 4. It was great, well, I think! It is the manoeuvre that is the key to an excellent image. A tiny little change in the position of any lighting, the tiny little change of the amount of the lighting, the tiny angle and position of the camera…then the minute and subtle posture and complexion of the sitters, and of course the key eye moods… We spent hours in playing around these subtle changes. The accessory such as soft box and honeycomb gives great lighting effects. I found the honeycomb is amazing; it changes the harsh light into such directed softer dramatic light. We used digital and finalised the shooting with Polaroid by Mamiya RB67.

I prefer this shot as the front sitter stands out by the silhouette, while the soft lighting on the body and face create the moody ambiance, as opposed to the well lit back sitter. Both eyes direction work perfectly well. Composition is well balanced but it might be a little too filling the frame and at the same time, it might need a little crop at the bottom to make the naked perception continue.

We will shoot formally in one-week time.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Untitled 1, from My Series 'Distance No. 7'

One of my images was selected as an invitation poster by WestPhoto...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Courtesy: Yinka Shoibare from Diary of a Victorian Dandy

Originated during Renaissance in painting, Caravaggio took the concept further by developing chiaroscuro further to tenebrism – violent contrast of light and dark. This painterly approach was widely used in cinema and photography. Notable photographers include Eugene Smith, Ralph Gibson, etc. It was widely used in cinema. I clearly remembered Kubrik’s dramatically beautifully lit candle scene in Barry Lyndon. Sven Nykvist used chiaroscuro realism in most of Bergman’s films as well. We will try to achieve this effect by shooting some mock up scenes in studio this week.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


We had an afternoon practice at Robert’s place. The purpose is to get familiar with the chunky Mamiya RB67 and the Prolinca portable studio lights. We played with different set-ups of Prolinca 400 and Prolinca 250, which gives so much different lightly effects! We plan to adopt very pronounced chiaroscuro lighting, as it goes with our theme due to long history of chiaroscuro usage in religious painting. Hands on experience is so different. We created some high contrast portraiture. We found that it is essential to have some accessories such as honeycomb, barns door etc. We also played some through/reflex umbrella.

Monday, 1 November 2010


We had another round of discussion starting with drawing on papers whatever in mind. Not quite successful, but we eventually decide to create the scenes with religious context.

To quote Robert’s wording:

There will be a priest in each of the images, representing the church as state, as oppressor and silencer - silencing those within and without.

Image 1: A priest and a woman. With an image or statue of Mary Magdalene.

Image 2: A priest and a man. A box of MANSIZE tissues. Shame silences abuse. ? how to represent shame as a silencer.

Image 3: A priest and a same sex couple - kissing? Maybe the priest ignores their presence, is aroused by it? Repelled?

Image 4: Naked priest with his institutional garments hung up. Taking off the institutional clothing.

The next step is to plan the props and the scenes specifically, while at the same time do some further visual research.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Edvard Munch, 1893

I am still considering scream is one of the reactions of ‘silenced’. Maybe we could construct scream scenes to represent our ‘silenced’ theme. The conflicting things normally co-exist. One extreme results in the other extreme. I am considering a scene with low key dark tone, some traces of discursive institutions as mise-en-scene, people screaming into the darkness with deformed facial expression…

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Courtesy: Shirin Neshat

A gun, an eye, half face imprinted by Persian characters… I am moved by Shirin Neshat’s portraiture…

It is a simple representation but there is so much behind the image. I am considering constructing a simple but meaningful scene for our theme ‘silenced’.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


From our discussions and review of the media, we began to see a theme related to people and organisations being silenced – by the state and other institutions. We finalised our purpose as follows:

To visually represent the inter-play between the silenced and the silencer, to stimulate thought and discussion about our relationship to being silenced and to silencing.

My instant first idea…

1. Auditorium.

Everyone of audiences with 'shut up' seal on mouth; shoot from behind the speakers shoulder

2. Cathedral

3. Retail environment

4. In open natural field.

Everyone screams.

It is literal and cliché like the images I gathered from the internet. I need to go beyond this.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


The initial purpose is to create 6 film stills with each one can be conceptually engaging in its own. A total of more than 12 scenes were planned together with lighting set up. I used bounced flash with room ambiance light to create a balanced lighting effect. I then used Photoshop for montage. Although the lighting and composition is preset the same, because of bounced light, the changing position of the subject changed the reflected lights to everywhere. This result in tiny different colour hue to everything. Therefore, when photo montage, it is not easy to match the colour seamlessly. I should have considered this bounced lighting limit before the shooting. Another issue is that bed is soft, when sitting or lying on it in different area, the surface deformed. This makes impossible to photo montage perfectly as it is not possible match the bed linen checker. Only 8 works are reasonably ok. However, I found that the scenes with facial expression are too literal to create any conceptual engaging platform. Deadpan works much better and it could create multi layers of meaning behind the scenes. It was not my intention to create a sequence in the fist place, but sequenced edition works better by chance.

In general, I am reasonably happy about the first double portraiture project but not happy about the technicality of lighting, montage and the scenes set up.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010


We were shown the whole process how to set up a scene using Prolinca monolight kit. Andy Golding asked us to create a stage lighting effect and then showed us his entire gadget range from reflection/through umbrella, colour gel, barndoor kit, honey cone etc. Most of the stage lights are located quite high; therefore, to emulate it, we put the moonlight in the highest possible position with barndoor half close to create the spot light effect. To emulate sunshine, we need to take reflector off. To create a justified lamp post light, we need to use flagging to create the ambiance. We then worked out synchronizing of 2 monolight kit via slave sensor. Of course, the metering, posing, composition etc.

The amazing part is that he used a white plastic board to block some of the motivated stage lighting to create some shadow and high contract to achieve the right ‘staging light’ effect. This subtle usage did make a huge difference in the final shoot. The other thing is that he used blue gel in front lighting and yellow gel in back light, to contrast the stage light and cosy backstage lighting.

The final shoot is absolutely fantastic. A perfect Cindy Sherman style! I love studio lighting, as it just makes a bland dull image so dramatically vivid.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


We went to Brighton to visit the biennial. There are four major galleries and dozens of small galleries showing wide ranges of photo works. Martin Parr commissioned three photographers (Stephen Gill, Rinko Kawauchi, and Alec Soth) to shoot Brighton. Rinko’s sensual images are poetic as usual, but I was absolutely amazed by Stephen Gill’s work, the super conceptual approach and the uncanny beauty. He put found objects such as flower, insects, cloth, threads, etc into his medium format camera between the lens and film. This creates such astonishing images. As the objects are all found in the streets of Brighton, the photo renders an extra tangible dimension to my affect reactions.

I was moved by Soth's work.

We rounded off our celebration of the photography with a drop of Monmouth coffee.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


We were shown some painterly lightings usage in a few examples. I quite like the quiet atmosphere created by ‘northern light’ in works of Johannes Vermeer. Then Andy showed us how to emulate sunshine or other light source in studio.

Then we were shown how to darken the sky in daylight by flashgun. It seems easy and straightforward but needs a lot of experimentation.

Andy showed us how he used flashguns in constructed photography shooting. It blew my mind that the flashguns could create such a difference in tone and colour even in the most dull surroundings. I got so excited and wish to do the same very soon.

Monday, 18 October 2010


I planned about 10 set ups. The shooting took place in a hotel room. It was late night and I tried some ambiance light with balanced bounced flash. It worked pretty well.

I like one or two of the images. Four or five failed. The rest could make do, but I do not like them. I put too much dramatic acting and they are not subtle and not bringing any hook to what happened just now and what will happen afterwards – the multiple possible meanings. They failed the conceptual engagement as a film still some how, although the double portraits idea might provoke some thoughts. The shots with deadpan expression worked better. Subtleness can really create a space for spectator to engage. Simplicity creates sophistication. Nothingness creates a lot of significances. Less is more. I like deadpan.

I really need to re-design some set ups but submission time is approaching probably I have to submit and move on to the next project.

Friday, 15 October 2010


We managed to form a group of 4 and had the first group meeting in South Bank. We named our group ‘Fourmat’! The initial discussion pinned down the subject of the project. The project will reflect the ‘silenced’. Society, politics, culture, authority and etc force individual or group not to express or communicate. We would like to construct the ‘found scene’ to convey our ‘reality’ to confront and question the issue.

I did some initial research trying to get some inspirations. I feel this subject is rather social and political. A lot of current events and issues can be involved. Also it is a rather wide topic. Personally I like something more spiritual and more personal. Anyway, it is a challenging subject. Due to the time constraint, I think the most important thing is to narrow down our ideas and concentrate on one or two to get conceptually constructed. I look forward the second meeting.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Initial Shooting. October, 2010

Each one has a lot of selves. The self to be a conformed citizen, self to be a proper student, self to be its own dream seeker, self to be a voyeur, self to be a rebel against the reality, self to be a terminator, self to be its own slave etc. These selves conflict, argue, negotiate, and yield one with another/others all the times. We are not ourselves since the minute we were born to this world. We are all controlled by the influence from society, family, school, peers, capitalism, culture, nature, etc. We are a public production ourselves. There is a self inside each one of us but is the self the real one or the one who comes to terms with all factors around us. Who is controlling the self? What are the selves within one physical body? Do we feel them? Is one self necessarily better than another? Is one identifiable from another? Who are we? I am always confused of all the thoughts above on a daily basis. I would like to shoot a series on this showing the ostensible tip of the iceberg of our ‘selves’.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Courtesy: Martin Parr

Andy showed us a clip of the beginning scene in Mulholland Dr. Lighting, which I took for granted, was de-constructed and explained. I like this approach – deconstructive to separate some familiar things out of the context and then analyse them. He explained how director make the small source light into a ‘motivated light’, (in the specific scenes, how small sourced light be justified as car beam and soft big sourced light be justified as lamp post light) he analysed each scene’s lighting by show us the traces of direction of the light and how big the source is, also, what the purpose of the light and what light means in the setup, to show the ambiance, to infer the location, or to infer some other specific things such as car approaching etc.

We were then shown the first film still everyone does. Quite a variety of work! I am impressed. He analysed them and gave us comment such as how to mask off in a closed corridor etc. He introduced ‘contre jour’. Martin Parr used it all the times to overcome the strong sunshine problem. I used it before but I never crack it in a technical way – readings of the background daylight same as the flash readings against the target. I would like MartinParr something later on. He suggest we dial -1 to -3 to see the difference, (obvious, -1 showing, -2 small edge, -3 subtle). We had some test afterward. We then worked some rear curtain sync etc.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Summer Evening by Edward Hopper, 1947

We were shown the photos taken for the same project from our previous years. A lot of them are about sex and violence. I do not mind sex and violence but I found them bit cliché. I do not have any idea yet. Deadline is ticking and I am bit struggling. Basically, I like some mystery, loneliness, coldness, and deadpan feel in my works. I do not intend to make a super dramatic one using violence and sex and I would rather make some shots to create some subtle feels for viewers.

Low-key lighting is fascinating to me. It is easier to control light in a low-key environment as well. Some kind of darkness creates a certain atmosphere. These should all suit the ‘theme’ – the content. Now I do not have a theme. I just want to come out with some shots look like film stills.

I need to browse a few people’s work to get inspired.

Monday, 11 October 2010


Courtesy: Gregrory Crewdson (from Beneath the Roses)

There are many tableau photography works quite enigmatic to me. There seems some story going on before and after the moment. We can not know explicitly. The atmosphere, protagonist and mise-en-scene are quite subtle. They could mean anything. This subtleness opens a whole new world and creates different conceptual engagements to the viewer. I like the way a good tableau photography implies. These photography depicts the key moment, a turning point and a causal link from one state of the story to another. This is the ‘decisive moment’ in digenesis - narration. In my project, I need to create a stage and catch this decisive moment using subtle mise-en-scene, lighting and acting. I come to love the word ‘subtle’. Photogrpahy is a subtle art. The subtleness in retouching and photomontage blur one reality and with another reality; the subtleness in constructive photography could open many versions of scenarios and lead your mind wondering from one to another.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Courtesy: Mitra Tabrizian (from The Blues 1986-87)

The staging and lighting are the keys to constructed photography. How to set up the scene, how to select and use props, how to direct the sitter’s posture, complexion and feel, how to direct viewer’s sight by lighting, how to create ambience by lighting, how many lights should be used… I found fascinating viewing the works by Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall and Mitra Tabrizian. Whatever message they want to convey, most of the staging and lighting are just fascinating. They create such a theatrical and dramatically feel in the whole setup. Especially Tabrizian’s work, it has a simplicity but just create the atmosphere properly. I like it. Considering my limited resource, I would have to create the film still in a way of simplicity.

Friday, 8 October 2010


Andy Goldin asked us to watch Moholland Dr. to pay attention to the lighting. I love David Lynch’s work even if sometimes I do not know what he is saying after watching. The strong contrast lighting and vivid colour in his films are the most impressive. I remember clearly the atmosphere and the feel in ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Lost Highway’ ‘Inland Empire’. Moholland Dr, I watched in a very small cinema in Paris in a very late winter night in 2003. I still remember vividly the uncanny dark scenes in super saturated colour. Now it is time to pay attention to the lighting!

Friday, 1 October 2010


First session in Constructed Photography! On flashguns. I am not confident in flashguns but after some trials on Nikon SB800, it is quite straightforward. The light inverse square law worked quite well.

The assignment was given. First one is to submit 6 film stills and to build narrative in digital in 3 weeks time. Second one is a group project of 4 film stills in medium format colour transparency printed in A3.

Individual Project: Film Stills (DSLR)

Working in pairs in the taught sessions and independently outside the classroom, you will produce 6 final images in the style of film stills. Each image should have a sense of a key moment taken from a film. You should stage and direct for each shot accordingly and in keeping with the style or genre intended. You will use a flashgun as a component of the lighting, taking care to consider the part the light sources play in the narrative.

Creating narratives in photographs, and carefully controlling the staging and lighting, will empower your images and make them highly persuasive in communicating their intended meanings. This is true for images intended for editorial, campaigning, propaganda, advertising, gallery and even photo journalistic contexts.

Group Project: The Narrative or Sequence.

Working in groups of four, you will produce four linked images of narrative based constructed photographic work. The outcome of each group will be a body of work, which communicates and interrogates an issue or concept.

In week four you will present a (5 minute) group PowerPoint outlining your proposal, preliminary research and related images.

Consider the potential context for your work: Editorial, campaigns, advertising, fashion, the gallery, portraiture, tableaux, posters, billboards, flyers, etc.

In documentary photography a ‘found’ scene is supposed to convey the photographer’s meaning or the supposed ‘reality’ of the situation. This generally assumes a direct relationship between the photograph and reality and tends to reveal effects rather than causes (can a photograph of a march against a war reveal anything about the conflict?) In the studio, or on location, meaning is created through juxtapositions and connotations of objects, people and lighting. Pre-visualization, construction and lighting are crucial considerations in constructed photography.

‘As Brecht says: “. . .less than ever does the mere reflection of reality reveal anything about reality. A photograph of the Krupp Works or the AEG tells us nothing about these institutions. Actual reality has slipped into the functional. The reification of human relations - the factory, say - means that they are no longer explicit. So something must be built up, something artificial, posed”. (Extract from “A Short History of Photography” by Walter Benjamin, 1931.)

Contemporary practitioners construct images with passion, or controlled dispassionateness, insight and sometimes wit, questioning and confronting a wide range of issues.

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Up to one year ago, I had always been paranoid for the most beautiful image in all sorts of situations like travelling, daily life etc, whenever camera was in my hand. Composition, lighting, retouching, printing…I spent long hours to get the best image appealing to eyes.

I knew subconsciously this is not good enough. I knew photography is a tool, not only capturing pretty images but also expressing something. However, I was not quite sure how to utilise this media. This is the motivation to join the course last year.

First year started in 2009. Theory wise, we studied Visual Culture and Modernity and After. They encapsulated so many issues such as photography history, semiotics, modern and contemporary art etc. They offered me a great platform to merge cultural, social, art, language, etc into my photography pot. Slowly, I came to feel the ‘content’. Influenced by the Conceptual Art in 60 and 70’s, I became bit rebellious against the ‘form’. It is the content that matters! I found the conceptual engagement so powerful that overshadows the form.

From one extreme – pretty picture, I transformed myself to the other – the concept. I started to ‘liberate’ myself not bothering about the form any more. This process and the change sometimes baffle me as well. What is more important? I have been constantly questioning myself. The summer vacation gives me a good break. Modernism and Postmodernism arts and theories convoluted inside me and developed organically. It seems that my thoughts reach a fine balance at the moment. Photography practice needs to combine the right form and content. Form can be content and vice versa.

I am pleased that I felt the change inside me, from one end of pendulum to the other and then it reaches the middle. This makes me appreciate more of the essences of Chinese philosophy. Zhong Yong (中庸) the Doctrine of the Mean. I am not sure if this can be called the essences of Chinese philosophy, as China has so many different schools of philosophy. Anyway, these days, the philosophy thousands of years ago in China, such as Ru, Dao, etc really intrigues me.

Tomorrow our new terms starts. The subject is Technologies and Self. It is mainly on philosophies from Descartes to post-Lacan, well, probably. I look forward to the new horizons opening.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I Missed the Degree Show, Free Range Gallery