“Do photos not tell a lie?”
Once, I went to a photography workshop held in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia by a photographer. The photographer had a workshop entitled with ‘Telling a Lie with Photos.’ In his first class, the photographer asked the students, “What do you think a photo is?” They confidently answered that photos are document and evidence of a fact. The photographer showed them how well photos can tell a lie. After the workshop was done, he asked the question again. Hesitating to say, they could not answer the question readily.
A Photo, indeed, is a good liar. That is not because now we can use technology such as Photoshop according to development of digital technology. A photo is a congenital liar. It can cunningly tell a lie for a situation, depending on how you compose the rectangular frame; how you set up the distance between the camera and the subject; and which angle you make. Because people think that photos take reality itself, they think that photos cannot tell a lie.
Lies of Lies: On Photography is the exhibition dealing with the topic of photography. 18 artists and photographers actively working these days join this exhibition. Although this exhibition is about photography, it makes us rethink the nature of photography media which is considered fact recording instead of photography as a genre. Moreover, it examines how the mechanical device of photography is tested upon by artists. Therefore, this exhibition shows a variety of installations and video clips, even though it is a photography exhibition. Especially, it is unusual that this exhibition embraces different generations from HWANG Kyutae and KOO Bohnchang to KIM Jinhee and KIM Taedong. Furthermore, it contains the photographers including KDK, KWON Sunkwan, NOH Suntag and Area Park who majored in photography as well as those who did not major in photography but who use photography media as their major genre including JUNG Yeondoo, GWON Osang and WON Seoungwon. This helps the exhibition to become not monotonous and to develop in diversity.
The exhibition starts with the excerpt from ‘Melancholy Objects’ in On Photography by Susan Sontag, “Photography has the unappealing reputation of being the most realistic, therefore facile, of the mimetic art.” It is not that Susan Sontag suggested this proposition in order to denigrate photography, but, her mention, nevertheless, represents the most general and ordinary misunderstanding on photography.”
The work facing with the text by Sontag is the sequence photography, Soap by KOO Bohnchang showing a piece of ordinary half used soap which looks like a beautiful objet. From this work, you will feel the awareness of difference or separation between something that you believe it is true and what you are looking at. Your appreciation will play a variation with other works. First of all, the exhibition consists of the following contents; documentaries that make you strongly believe that photography is the record of a fact (NOH Suntag, Area Park and HA Taebum); photography, text and narrative (BACK Seungwoo and JANG Boyun); the photography on everyday life through artists’ lens by CHUNG Heeseung, MOON Hyungmin and KDK; photography, collages and digital deformation (WON Seoungwon, GWON Osang and HWANG Kyutae); and memories (KWON Sunkwan and JUNG Yeondoo). At the end, the exhibition will embrace Exploration of Hwaseong by YOON Byoungjoo as an epilogue. This work began with a flash of inspiration that identical is the Korean pronunciation of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi province and Mars in the universe. YOON shoot a field of construction in Hwaseong as it looks like somewhere in Mars. When you appreciate Exploration of Hwaseong by YOON Byoungjoo through a crevice between the exhibition spots with the rock in the Total Museum at the end, this exhibition will provide you with time and space to reexamine the nature of photography as media or as technology.