Rfotofolio’s annual call brings to our attention the inspiring work that is being done.
Today we share the work of Wen Hang Lin, one of the selections in the2017 Rfotofolio Call for Entry.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Taiwan, and moved to the United States and studied photography in my early 20s. I earned my B.F.A. at Arizona State University and M.F.A. at The Ohio State University. Currently, I work in the arts as a graphic designer in Scottsdale, Ariz. Arizona is a very hot and dry state. You can expect 110°F/44°C or higher in the summer with less than a quarter-inch of precipitation. I love its vast landscape and blue sky. There are many famous photographers inspired by this unique landscape, such as my former teacher Mark Klett. However, what this wide open landscape really do to me is to help my meditation and distill my thought. I often explore different subject or topics. When I am in doubt, the desert offers me a place to see it clearly.
How did you get started in photography?
When I was senior in high school, the administration decided to start clubs for after school activities. However, we were so busy preparing for university entrance exams no one signed up for any of those clubs. Out of the blues, I was assigned to the photography club by the school even though I had no knowledge of photography nor did I own a camera. Fortunately, my teacher gave me my first camera and helped to start my photography path. Years later, when I had no idea what to do next, I came across Robert Frank’s “The Americans.” His potent and deeply haunting images inspired me to study photography in the United States. I am also grateful that my parents agreed with my crazy idea of being an artist.
Would you share with us one image(not your own) that has stayed with you over time?
It is hard to pinpoint just one image. However, the Chinese painting style in the Song dynasty (960-1279) has an impact on my works. One of the key ideas in Chinese painting is the importance of the negative space. In my project, that space is double as mindful emptiness. By leaving traces of subtle detail, it takes viewers to wander and explore.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
I am a fan of film director and producer, Sir Alfred Hitchcock. His ability to build suspense out of simplicity is simply amazing. The way he imposed tension with long shots and allowing the set space to become a tension device is what I want to achieve in my project.
What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?
In 2016, my project was selected as a finalist for The John Chervinsky Emerging Photographer Scholarship, at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Mass. Later, I had a chance to meet one of the judges, Mary Virginia Swanson. She gave me much wonderful advice about my work, and different venues I may pursue to have a solo exhibition. Although the conversation was short, the lesson I learned is invaluable. In the age of digital technology, we need more good in-person conversation, whether it is a curator or friends. The Facebook “like” or “follower” will not help us grow as an artist.
Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.
In this ongoing project, “Silence in Synesthesia”, I question what is the experience and perception of time and memory. Our conception of reality is a continuous act of layering moments of experience and defined by our belief structure. However, what is the world beyond the visible spectrum? If time can arbitrarily weave together, what do our memories and perception of the moment change?
Using synesthesia, a neurological term for the mixing of senses, as a metaphor, I want to probe the other side of probability and provide a venue to encourage viewers to perceive themselves in the act of perceiving.
To create this project, images are blindly overlapped by rewinding film after it has been exposed. Adopting coincidence as a tool, two separate events—with no apparent or planned connection—are fused together by their colors and open an abstract space. Through an entangled web of intended actions and unintended instances, the act of photography is transformed into a theatrical encounter.
What Image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
Before I start the “Silence in Synesthesia” project, I had tried to photograph different subjects. Unfortunately, nothing really stood out, and I was very frustrated. So, I decided to shift my mind and to work on a non-photography project, “9 to 5”, which is a recording of my usage of a computer mouse during my regular work hours. This project transform time into an abstract illustration. A few years later, when I look back this project again, the idea of time and moment sparked the beginning of this project.
What I learned is I already possess something that is important and meaningful to myself. Instead of searching from the outside, I need to look into myself and honestly ask what truly matters to me.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
After processing film, I love to exam the negative with a loupe on a light table. Since I cannot foresee what I shoot, finding one or two good images after 7 or 8 weeks’ work will make me want to dance on the table.
Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?
Besides my camera, the most important gear is the water bottle. I often wander in the street for a long period of time. Back in June, when the temperature in Phoenix was 120 degrees, I remember my camera became so hot that I almost dropped it. I could suffer heat stroke if I don’t have my water with me. While It is true that a photographer may not suffer malaria or being attacked by a grizzly bear in the urban environment, it is important to protect the well-being of our self just like we take care of the camera.
What is on the horizon?
In order to further emphasize the idea of the experience and perception of time, I am building a photography sculpture. It is 72-by-18 inches in size, accordion folded two images into one. The goal is when two or more people are viewing the image at the same time, they will see different images because of different standing position and viewing angles. This “moving image” effect cannot be achieved by the flat print. I have already built one, and want to create three more if I create suitable images.
Thank you Wen for sharing your work with us.
To learn more about Wen Hang Lin please visit his site at Wen Hang Lin.