Uncertain Identity Photo – Non Facture by Jung Hyun
2011-04-28 13:53:11 , Tuesday

The Paradox of Evidence and Proof
     “Painting belongs to a kind of icons and photography offers an indicator.” - Regis Debray

The models Lee Min-ho selected for her photography is her entourage. In long and lonely foreign life away from home, what makes herself look prominent is the existence of others. We are well aware of the commonplace truth that we ourselves can be defined only through relations with others. The figures in Lee’s photographs are not a man but a unit or a mass of being.

If then, the figures enable the spectators to be freed from an obsession to project themselves into her picture. They stand before our eyes as nothing but an image. The viewers, however, cannot testify or prove the figures standing in her serial work “Identification Photograph”. They are just a man with no any discerning indicators.

The artist deliberately drives the eye section of the figures in “Identification Photograph” out of its frame. The images whose half part of the face disappeared, namely deprived of their gaze and eyes, lose their values as an identification picture. After all, the title, “Identification Photograph” itself is a paradox. It’s because her identification photographs testify nothing. They are rather close to evidence for her everyday life, surroundings and timeness of photography. If then, Lee’s identification pictures are merely a bundle of her individual traces?

Before replying to this question, its work process should be first reviewed. The printing of the photographs taken by the artist is entrusted to an ordinary photo studio. The artist discovers some of her printed photos have a sticker that reads “Non-facture”. It indicates that, differently from Lee’s original intention, the person who takes charge of the process of printing mistakenly accepted them as wrongly taken pictures. As a result, Lee’s pieces are regarded as inappropriate and insignificant, and thus have to be thrown away. In other words, Lee’s identification pictures present the images that go wrong with the purpose of photographic representation.

These images verify nothing in a social context. What’s more preferentially exploited for modern people to prove themselves are ID card, serial numbers, and small identification photos. As Clement Roche points out, this world is filled with deceptive reproductions. The figures with no eyes or presented in a non-academic style are disposed before coming out to the world.

Lee’s identification photograph is after all a proof of individual vestiges and evidence of modern people’s institutionalized viewpoint. It’s also impressive that her identification pictures come to have a meaning through contradiction and paradox.  

The photographs with no gaze and eyes are inevitably not only a proof but also an illusion. This is why the imagery created by light and mirror reflection always appears as an illusion. Oneself reproduced by a medium of photography cannot be proved definitely and is always a ‘simulacre’.

Lee Min-ho poses questions on the matter of self and identity, which are regarded most fundamental and essential. These questions, “Who am I?” and “What people admit as my true nature?” are the be-all and end-all of her life.

By Jung Hyun, Formative Art Study

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