The human condition through the lens of John Clang

Cheong, Elaine (2017) The human condition through the lens of John Clang. Masters thesis, Lasalle college of the arts.

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Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: The human condition through the lens of John Clang
Synopsis:

“The Human Condition Through the Lens of John Clang” examines the centrality of the photographic lens in enabling narrations of the human condition, an existential condition embedded in the seemingly mundane images of the everyday. Although Roland Barthes had once declared that a photograph has no narration on its own, this study will prove that a redefinition of the semantics of looking at photographs yields a kaleidoscope of stories that resonate with all as people face challenges in their daily lives. This is an age where everyone becomes his own author posting photographs on Instagram and Facebook. How then would we situate artists like Clang who use photography in a world where there is a daily deluge of millions of photographs posted? At the same time, it is ironical that in an age inundated with images and photography exhibitions, there is still scant research on photography as contemporary art, in Singapore. Hence this author feels catalysed to embark on a study on how photography becomes the effective language for the human being’s existential conditions.
This discursive topic is approached within a framework that references Singapore but does not limit the scope by locality as photography is borderless. The timeframe spans 23 years from 1993 to 2016, charting the start of the artist’s career to present day, and charting shifts in societal and other events which have had its profound affects on the works. The study is grounded in literature, on the tenets of looking at photography and art, set forth by Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes et al. Other writings such as those on Felix Gonzalez-Torres that bring contemporary sensibilities to looking at photography prove invaluable. It is this author’s fortune to be able to procure primary source information in the form of one-on-one interviews with Clang. Unadulterated knowledge of the artist’s mindset adds a richer resonance to the works and gives rise to a more intuitive analysis.
Summarily, the findings allude to Clang using the lens to bring forth narrations of his own human condition with his own subjectivities, often personal ones that relate his anxieties about mortality (of his aged parents), his guilt, his filial piety, his love for his home in Singapore. Such themes resonate with the spectator, providing an entry point into the work with the spectator’s own story. Time-tested tenets of looking at photography such as photographic images are referents, are naturally invoked throughout. In addition, Clang contemporizes his images with text in the form of captions and phrases that channel the studium to other ‘places’. The photograph becomes again a catalyst for recollecting and reinforcing memories, but is also a document for the future when people will look back at say 2015 the jubilee year of Singapore’s independence and memories come flooding back on how they felt at that point in time. Photography is put to many uses but none as powerful and as indispensable as that in portraying the human condition.

Subjects: Art History
Divisions: Faculty of Fine Arts > Master - Asian Art Histories
Depositing User: Ms Ashalatha Krishnan
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2018 09:49
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 09:49
URI: http://drlib.lasalle.edu.sg/id/eprint/547
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