TEXT - б
TITLE : Taro Amano, "A New Sensation", 2009
DATE : 08/23/2011 02:20

In the exhibition reflet BOOMOON-PRESENCE, Johyun gallery, Seoul, 2009


A New Sensation


              Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, an early 19th century photographer, once complained, “hollies, laurels, ivy, and other smooth-leaved evergreens, instead of presenting a sunny effect look rather as if strewn with shining bits of tin or studded with patches of snow”* when photographed in bright sunlight. In early years, aside from their efforts to reproduce the conventional compositions of painting, many photographers found themselves facing more troubles than they had expected to fix the image of their object as they thought accurate recordings was something photography was purported to do. Thanks to the rapid progress of photographic technology, we are now free from such problems as Lady Eastlake had as digital imagery drives out silver halide prints. In the age of digital imagery, you don’t have to worry if your photographs are a failure or not because you can check the result right away in the monitor and retake the shot as many times as you want until you get a really good picture.


Photography, with which the history of photography as a discipline deals today, is not the same as photography was at its conception; just as dogs have become quite different from their original breed through domestication and cross-breeding over generations. Daguerreotype and digital photography are infinitely apart from each other, barely sharing the purpose of fixing reality at a given moment. Above all, they are different in the quantity of information they can store. Even if you digitalize and enlarge a silver-halide print, invisible details remain invisible. On the other hand, when you enlarge a card-size digital image into a print larger than life-size, you will be surprised at the distinctive appearance of minute details that you would have never registered before. We have to admit the incapacity of our eyes to grasp the world in all its details.


Imagine you are looking at The Painter’s Studio by Gustave Courbet at the Orsay Museum, and you will know how hard it is to thoroughly view this image. You may have seen brilliant reproductions of the masterpiece in various art books that clearly show every corner of the image but what you see in the actual painting must be quite different. First it is physically difficult to see the upper part of this gigantic canvas. Secondly, the painting looks far darker than you would expect so you have to strain your eyes to make out each subject.


It is not that digital photography ‘makes up’ things that are not actually there. It can just reveal far more details of whatever there is. Yet it seems to show us a different phase of the world that analog photography has not. The photographs by Boomoon reveal the world in detail making the most of digital photography. What we see in these pictures must be, however, even different from what the photographer saw at each site as everyone is usually unaware that there is a great deal of visual information in the world that our eyesight cannot grasp. At first sight, these landscape photographs may evoke such clichés as ‘deserted’, ‘solitary,’ or ‘bountiful nature’ but soon a great deal of minute details will overwhelm you and blow away such sentimental first impressions.


Photography’s mission has been to represent the world as it is ever since it first surprised people by showing mirror images of the world. Nevertheless, photographs would often surprise photographers with an unexpected result every now and then. There were always unpredictable elements until the paper was soaked in the developer and images appeared. While many film photographers still love this unpredictability, the power of photographs by Boomoon opens a different dimension: the presence of objects overwhelm both the photographer and viewers.


It is sometimes hard to tell which photograph is digital and which is not. Like it or not, we are now acquiring more and more information through digital data. Boomoon seems to be pursuing a new direction of landscape photography in our digital age that stirs up a new sensation in us.


Taro Amano (Curator in Chief, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan)



*Quoted by Peter Galassi in Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, p.29, New York, 1981.