Artist Statements 2009
When posed the question “what are you?” I answer, a photojournalist. My photographs are mainly of people, places, and events. Yet sometimes I take a photo possessing an eerie quality. The photo goes simply beyond telling a story and starts to ask questions.
The images here are photojournalistic in their nature. They show human tragedy, human triumph, human ingenuity, and I hope most of all, human life. In this sense they are the straight definition of newsworthy events. An accident, an election, a ski race. They are even at the right moment for a news event. The shutter is clicked exactly as the racer crosses the finish or a part is retrieved from the inside of an airplane wing. These two factors should add up to a photo which would grace the page of a local or national newspaper. Other factors however make the photos a bit harder to pin down.
Looking at the images, with the exception of July Fourth, all are clearly manipulated. This is done both through the computer as well as through the use of a specialized lens, which creates an artificial depth of field, creating the illusion of a smaller scale. Beyond the alterations however lies another fact: These shots use different framing than news shots would. Instead of zooming in and cropping to vital information they are much wider, displaying not just the recordable moment but also the surrounding environment.
Viewing a scene through a wide angle lens gives the image a very different feeling. The impression is unnatural and even seems to imply a staged event. In this sense the image is like the work of Gregory Crewdson, whose photographs are elaborately fabricated scenes of unease and sometimes horror. I am intrigued by the interaction of reality and fiction through the camera lens. Where one starts and the other ends is a question I am constantly asking.
I am interested in the things we encounter while outdoors. For my senior thesis, I have examined how human activity interacts with the natural landscape. In my work, I try to capture instances where technology has somehow intersected with or interrupted nature.
I have worked exclusively in black ink drawings because I wanted to simplify my subject matter and examine it in terms of line quality and tonal changes. I also used this medium to give the subject of nature a graphic and mechanical quality. Newspaper text has been used in some of my pieces as an additional aesthetic component, and as a way to give my work a current applicability.
This project began with a desire to find and create beauty in objects that are not traditionally thought of as beautiful. I began to photograph anything that aught my eye, such as puddles, gutters, rocks and tire tracks. I was particularly drawn to interesting contrasts, such as the softness of snow or dirt around rigid man-made structures.
When I began this project, my intentions for its meaning were mainly aesthetic. As the work progressed, however, a subtle theme related to the impact of technology on the natural environment began to emerge. Images of snow banks created by plows and tire tracks through mud and grass became testimonies to the marks left on the earth by technological innovation. My work is about finding the beauty in marks made by humans on the landscape and translating hat information into line drawings.
My work is intimate and personal. Books are tangible and tactile; books can be picked up, moved though, understood as parts, moments, or as a whole. The book as an object can be seen open or closed, but all parts must be relevant and related. Books are things, they are not just images or text, but they are places, units, enclosures, and homes for information, stories, pictures, and secrets.
The moment I was introduced to book art, the spring of my freshman year, I wanted to pursue it as my medium. Suzi Cozzen’s, a book artist and professor, was the first to introduce me to the world of book art and since then I’ve become fascinated with it. With book art as a medium, the results can be vast; sometimes, final pieces do not even look like books.
When creating, I tread a fine line of craftsperson and artist. The content in the work is original and personal to me: home. My original ideas for thesis transformed over the many months spent in and out of the studio. When I began my thesis, I started to research the meaning of home in a very academic sense, reading academic essays and conducting formal interviews. Months later, I decided it was time to stop researching and planning, and time to start making. I turned to my own home, my own definitions and my own experiences for my content. This work explores the home, my home, and the idea of home through it’s physical structure, memory, and meaning.
Hwei Ling Ng
A press of a button and a click of a shutter….For many people, digital photography may appear simple, but for me, it has come to represent a way of life and a mindset of keen observation that forces me to stop and take stock of how I view the world. In many ways, it is a way of coming to see something new in what is already there.
This year, I have worked with a combination of digital projection and photography to create a body of work that has taken me on a journey through various questions of identity and self-value. My work has culminated in an exploration of the pertinent and personal quest of the artist to discover his or herself within the work he or she makes. A large part of my struggles throughout the year have stemmed from difficulties in identifying with my work and attempting to find a connection to and representation of myself within it.
This series of portraits of artists (both myself, and other students) in combination with their work asks the questions: how much is the artist part of the art he or she creates, and how much is the art part of him or her in return? Instead of viewing art as something typically taken from within the artist to be realized externally, these photos seek to place the artist within their own creations.
Photography represents a medium that is still associated with truthful depictions of reality. Working with these expectations of reality allows me to create images that may occasionally startle or confuse the viewer. I choose to work with projection as a technique that effectively blurs the lines between what we understand to be real and fabricated, hopefully culminating in intriguing images that require deeper perusal to really be understood.
The images I am presenting were inspired by earlier work where I explored the photographic possibilities of typical cooking eggs. I was drawn to the contrast between the exterior shell and the delicacy of the fluids inside and it has become a very important aspect of my work to involve the breaking of eggs in the process. I have explored the introduction of items that contrast with the formal simplicity and naturalism of an egg into the setting of breaking or hatching. The inherent cultural symbolism of the egg and the juxtaposition of items that heighten this meaning is of interest to me; providing a subject through which various concepts can be conveyed.
In any culture the egg has its symbolic implications. The ideas of birth, incubation, the culinary arts, rebirth, and the cosmos are all concepts that I consider when choosing particular items or compositions. In this body of images I draw on genetic engineering/manipulation as a foundation for my studies and it has been very enjoyable to work with an array of choices to construct the scenes. I have used the studio set up within this context in an attempt to create an iconic visual appeal.
Surprisingly, working within the context of a studio with a small seamless backdrop has broadened my ideas of what is possible in art. Having complete control of the photographic environment makes the manipulation color, form, lighting, and composition infinite. Operating within the framework of genetic engineering has stimulated me throughout this process and has given important direction to my work. Before I had limited myself to one particular idea, I had felt a bit lost in the expanse of possibilities and this, albeit loose, agenda helped to focus my manipulation of color and form.