“Photography is a machine of time | Photography is a machine of existence | Photography is a machine of the oblivion | Photography is a machine of struggle | Photography is a machine of poetry | Photography is a machine of order | Photography is a machine of pleasure | Photography is a machine of a machine.” – Kao Chung-Li
A spectre is haunting the island - the spectre of the imaging machinery.
Through experimental films, photography, animation, sculptures, image installations, visual toy inventions and even essays on visual imagery, Chung-Li Kao exemplifies the complex relationship between viewing, imagery and history, and has never stopped questioning and reflecting on imagery through diverse forms of creation that defy classification. Kao is indeed the most experimental and subversive punctum in Taiwan’s visual arts scene.
Acutely aware of how “image production” influences the development of the history of photography, Kao tries to look for a solution within the anemic visual culture dominated by a preference for “produced images” and the consumption of imagery, on this photographic island that possesses no means of its own to produce images and instead relies on inventions of the imaging machinery. He even transforms himself into a human imagery machine - his eyes a projector, his brain a negative, his mouth a loudspeaker. Using his body and putting imagery into practice, Kao attempts to overturn and surpass the seemingly unmovable power structure that is so deeply entrenched in the development of contemporary photographic history.
“What is photography? What are films? What is it to ‘see’?” Kao asks, his eyes wide. “Why do we not have our own cradle of photography, childhood, or golden age of movies? Why do we not have our own theories of visual perception and neurology? Why do we not have our own imaging machinery industry?” In this special issue, we attempt to answer these questions as we embark on this long journey of reflection, along the lines of Kao’s principles of creation.
In preparation for this issue, we visited Kao several times and compiled his vast and scattered collection of work which has accumulated over the years. We uncovered his earlier 8mm films, slides and manuscripts as we dug through his storeroom, filled to no end with all sorts of imagery machines. We also included in this issue never-before-seen photographs, animated drafts, working notes, objects from his personal collection and several of his essays.
In addition, we invited imagery researchers Shih-Lun Chang, Fang-Tze Hsu, Jau-Lan Guo, Yung-Hao Liu and Wei-Tsung Chen to discuss Kao’s imagery perspective and processes, and artist Ju Lin to talk about Kao and his work. At the same time, we also included the late author Ying-Zhen Chen’s commentary on modernist artwork and critical awareness through the lens of Kao’s works, as well as an in-depth interview with the artist himself.
It will always be a daunting challenge to us when it comes to preparing an artist issue. We would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Chung-Li Kao for his trust, support and generosity, and for sharing his life of art creation with us without any reservations. With our limited capability, we are unable to put into print the entirety of the rich orientation of his art, but what we can do is to share with our beloved readers a record of Kao’s creations and the inspiration we got from the imagery reflections of an artist
VOP ISSUE 22 : 高重黎專號 THE KAO CHUNG-LI SPECIAL listed in:
Periodicals & Magazines 雜誌及期刊
, Voices of Photography 攝影之聲, Taiwan 台灣