It is where the photographic process usually ends that my work begins. I cut up the photographic image in identically wide strips, then reconstitute it on a flat surface. Or else I glue the strips on panels that I set on the floor. By intervening in this way on the photographic mechanism, I am trying to show other aspects of photography.
As soon as the strips are arranged, the photographic image begins to lose its representative character and its immediate suggestive power – it begins to slip into motion. The moment the strips are arranged, the tension is as high-strung as at the moment the picture was taken, the intensity of the décalage between the strips allows one to perceive not only the surface on which I laid out the strips but also the real space of the exhibition where I set up the panels as if having to do with the notion of place.
Cutting the photographic image into strips is not an act of refusal but rather one of reconstituting – through the articulation of the image – the perception process of the place. The perception of the “photographic reality,” which is an existential conjuring up of the real object by the image, is possible when the moment the photo was taken and the moment it is perceived are simultaneous and the place photographed stands in for the place of the viewer. The moment in which we view a photograph is that of the objectification of the real object projected on the optic nerve. This moment coincides with that of the objectification of the real object, which is projected on the film at the moment the photo is taken. To create the illusion, the simultaneousness of these two moments must linger. The moment of the here and now, that is, the moment we actually look at the image, should not be separated from the previous moment when, elsewhere, the image was taken.
Nevertheless, the mechanism of the illusion, which is perceived as the simultaneity between the present and the past, comes up against the rational distinction between the image and the real object; however, this separation diminishes when conscience and imagination intervene – as for example when a work of literature deals with a photographic image. The relation between the present and the past takes place, so to speak, in the indicative, the simultaneity enabling the place shown in the photograph to be perceived as the place of perception – and vice versa. The mechanism of illusion, at the moment of my perception, grants place-status to the place shown in the photograph, whereas the mechanism of the photograph grants the place-status to the place at the moment the photograph was taken. The viewer who looks at the photograph simultaneously perceives the place photographed in the same way as the photograph – through the mechanism of the shot itself – it also being “perceived” as a place. The moment of bodily perception is identical to that mechanical perception.
My work – which begins with the culmination of the photographic process, consists also in opposing the mechanical aspect, necessarily found on the surface, and which is intended to be seen in a space – cannot take the place of perception for granted. The strips laid out at intervals on a white background are in opposition to the place-status of the two-dimensional surface. If the place-status attributed to these strips is as pronounced as the intervals between them, then temporal perception – the movement – will follow accordingly. By arranging them again, the original image of the photograph can be reconstituted. This means that the reality of the photograph in the quantity of light does not mathematically change. However, the photographic units that hinge on my intervention react to a different reality of the flat surface. With respect to the panels on which I glue the strips and then set on the ground, the place-status is more active and open, if only because both the viewer and I set our feet on the same ground and we can see – by moving around – the panels arranged and placed flat on the floor.
The mechanism of photography springs from the analytic principle of linear perspective concerning the space of visual perception, which made possible the process of objectivation. Thus this mechanism adopts the cyclical mechanism of objectivation, to which human visual perception adapts: in the face of the real object, instead of seeing it and smelling it, there is a tendency to react photographically. Furthermore, the usefulness of the photographic mechanism leads to the phenomenon of inflation and objectivation and thus calls for a new photographic language. This demand will be met by the perceptive language of the photographic mechanism, or through the reaction and intervention of the perceptive elements beyond the mechanism. All of this signifies man’s maturity for the perceptive power of the mechanism, and his opening, mastering, and directing of the cyclical structure of objectivation.
Chong Jae-Kyoo, 10 April 1996