The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts will examine the role of photography in the future to come, from the unprecedented digital images that have impacted conventional visual discourse, to the employment of self-discipline in response to ubiquitous surveillance. Featuring 23 artists from home and abroad, "Anxiety of Images" will run from July 20 through Sept. 22 in Taichung City.
The emergence of photography was intrinsically linked to the advancement of technology. By dint of the viewing apparatus, people have transcended the physical confines of the human eye. Consequently, the definitions of time, space, reality, and periphery have all changed, stretching horizons beyond the state of Dasein — i.e. being present here and now. Galvanized by digital imaging technology, the viewer craves seeing broader, deeper, farther, and clearer, only to find no escape from surveillance.
Two core themes run through "Anxiety of Images," an elaborately organized exhibition on the relations between technology and photography as well as the yearning and anxiety for things to gaze on and being gazed upon. Giving prominence to the photographic works in the museum’s collection, the "Portrait and Landscape" section shall draw attention to how greater manipulation and control have complicated the comprehension of images like never before.
Photography has thus metamorphosed from objective documentary to an act of subjective creation, fueled by countless programmable narrative scenes and text. The power dynamics between seeing and being seen have also been altered by interpretive and critical viewpoints, in which "seeing is perceiving" is no longer an immutable reality. When photography is no longer about what, but how one perceives to see, in what ways can its possibilities be reimagined?
The second section, "Surveillance and Governance," shall tackle the riotous profusion of ethical issues that face the contemporary artist, including data collection and satellite imagery, the generational system on collecting and circulating criminal portraits, private narratives based on endoscopic images, and the dramatic transformation of military-driven border control.
While by no means novel issues, surveillance and governance have grown more subtle, undetectable, yet politically correct. Now that the camera has lost its status as an intimidating weapon, people have forgotten its archival powers. In fact, photography and surveillance can be considered two sides of the same coin — the former reflects anxiety over oblivion and the latter harbors misgivings over omission. One seeks to expose, the other to oversee.
Iris Shu-Ping HUANG, Jay Chun-Chieh LAI
Adam BROOMBERG+Oliver CHANARIN, Julian RÖDER, Paolo CIRIO, Thomas RUFF, Viktoria BINSCHTOK, Walis Labai, Tien-Chang WU, Daniel LEE, Isa HO, Ching-Hui CHOU, Huang-Ti LIN, Wei-Yuan MA, I-Ting HOU, Tung-Lu HUNG, Goang-Ming YUAN, Che-Yu HSU, Hui-Chan KUO, I-Chen KUO, Chieh-Jen CHEN, Go WATANABE, Chien-Hua HUANG, Zhen-Zhong YANG, Pei-Yu LAI
‘Anxiety of Images’