Lam Pok Yin Jeff (b.1988) and Chong Ng (b.1987) are artists living in London, who work with sculptural objects, installations and performances, which deal with the ontological nature of the medium. Their practice is heavily process-oriented, as they are interested in how narratives and meanings are generated in the making of the image. In their works, the photographic apparatus, the act and process of photographing, as well as the circulation of images are deconstructed from within, through the creation of his own photographic devices and image-making methodologies. Obsolete technologies and everyday objects are reinvented, adapted and radicalised, and norms around photography are often taken to the extreme, until they start to fall apart, in order to provide alternative understandings of the medium beyond the picture plane.
In an era where image making is dominated by efficiency, spontaneity and shareability, our investigation with elaborated analog processes and obsolete devices may seem irrelevant. It is indeed untimely, because it seeks to understand as an illness, a disability, and a defect something that this epoch is quite rightly proud of .
The prevalence of digital cameras has made image making frictionless and photography has become more affordable and seemingly democratic than ever. However, at the same time, as the camera turns more automatic and intuitive in use, its operation and the predetermined programs within it are more concealed from the users. After all, reality does not just get flattened into an image objectively. Cameras look neutral, because we are all ignorant of the decisions that were made by the designers and manufacturers of the cameras before they reach our hands. The translation of reality into image seems direct because we are ignorant of the process that happens inside the cameras, unaware of exactly how 3-dimensional reality is reduced into a 2- dimension print, or digital data. Cameras play an enormous part in how images are encoded with meaning. The camera is programmed to produce photographs, and every photograph is a realisation of one of the possibilities contained within the program of the camera.
As image-making processes and apparatus become more concealed, what appears to be an expansion of freedom is probably a restriction of how new narratives could be created through photography, for as long as t!here is no way of engaging in such criticism of technical images, we shall remain illiterate.
Thus, this project becomes an attempt to deconstruct and rethink the fundamental elements of photography through looking at the apparatus, methodologies and the image-making process through the hands of two amateur photographers. Through staged performances and elaborate processes, norms and presupposed ideas surrounding photography are taken to the extreme until they begin to fall apart. Obsolete technologies and everyday objects are reinvented, adapted and radicalized. The decision to use “archaic” processes and obsolete devices is not a nostalgic or sentimental one, but rather a realisation that they offer the flexibility and ability for us to elaborate on overlooked mechanisms and the role of the camera in the making of images. This idea is further established through the subverted use of the photographic language from camera manuals. In these instructional images, we, the camera operators, seem to be demonstrating the correct use of the aforementioned apparatus, when actually, we are hacking these devices, violating their original uses, and making them to serve a new purpose.
To view more of Lam Pok Yin Jeff’s work please visit his website.
To view more of Chong Ng’s work please visit his website.
To view more information of this series please visit their series website.