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Parsons School of Design MFA Photography program theses2015 (PC020403.11) ➔ The Drawn Towards and the Anticipating/Waiting Line Series


Related people/organizations

James Ramer (thesis advisor)
Parsons School of Design. Photography Department. (sponsoring body)
Shiang-Jiun Chen (photographer)


August 22 2015


Artist Statement of My Thesis Works: The Drawn Towards and the Anticipating

During our passage through life, we spend most of our time dealing with daily movement and challenges, seeking balance with others under structures of power. My experiences of sensing power in daily life are a mixture of contributions and conflicts from multicultural environments, multiple fields of study and work, and cross-generational interactions. They shaped my aesthetic interpretation of power; especially of human interactions and relationships.

While seeking effectiveness in our technologically evolving life, I sensed a lack of awareness when encountering power, being desensitized by its frequent reoccurrence, and a lost understanding of the people and situations surrounding us. Our sense of reality, the feeling of the moments of being, self-driven anticipation, and the existence of influential power became intertwined.

From a culture of authority and my changes in life, I accept systems with embedded rules everywhere subconsciously. But, I also have struggled with the structure of power in relationships, situations or work positions. Those moments of obeying and resisting built a learned pattern.

All these influences gradually show in my work, announcing my discovering the power structure hidden in our time and space, and examining these experiences and our relationship to power in public space. My work aims to evoke thinking in reasoning the mass movement formation and the forces involved.

Lines familiar to our daily life draw people together for many purposes and people execute an array of responses in them. Instead of pointing out the existence of power, I let the people who are drawn towards these structures become the visual evidence of power.

The common quality of my work lies in the unclear purposes of people’s behaviors of gathering together, and the ambiguity between their passively being drawn towards something and their willful anticipation of it. The images integrate both documentary and staged qualities, providing two ways of viewing, the grand view of a moving group, its driving force and shared characteristics, or a connection with the individuals, sensing their unique way of being. The viewers will ponder how each of us cannot resist these journeys.

Through my images, the somewhat familiar but distant scenes of people we pass by and incidentally observe evoke our thinking in finding the hidden structure of power and feeling empathy toward the people surrounding us. Perhaps, my work will raise awareness toward our behaviors encountering power and the gaps between the powerful and the powerless, the influential and the influenced and science/technology and our humanity.

Artist Statement of Waiting Line Series

Waiting Line, a natural waiting scene of a multicultural group of people anticipating an unseen but desired event, describes the special but common moments in social environments, where a mass movement toward some influential factor forms. Regardless of the backgrounds, behaviors and individual moments of being of the people captured, these images reveal the shared group movements through time and bring a broad curiosity toward the unseen forces that draw people together and make them wait willingly. I explored the changes in movement from a pre-set frame where people pass through repeatedly, and connected multiple frames back to their sequential space in time to show the array of different people that can be captured through their movement.

The giant long image of the Waiting Line suggests two directions of viewing. While standing viewing the entire line, it reveals some characteristics of the people in the line, implying all as a group with common goals and movements. However, looking closer at the people’s expressions and behaviors, viewers may find individual differences revealing diverse and interesting moments of being. It is designed to grab the attention of the viewers, forcing them to walk along the piece to see its macro scope, micro details and to think about the hidden factors of the movement. The original length Waiting Line No. 2 (2014) is longer than 40 feet. This canvas print work (21 inch x 30 feet long), creates a painting quality of the image excerpted from the line.

As the documentation occurred in public spaces, the diminished sense of privacy through the lens not only revealed the people’s personal behaviors, but also made the artist publicly noticeable adding performative elements into this series. Through my images, the somewhat familiar but distant scenes of people as we pass by and incidentally observe can evoke our thinking in finding the hidden structure of power and feeling empathy toward the people surrounding us.



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