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Thread: Clang. A Self Portrait

  1. #21

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    I think his work is mediocre to say the least. Honestly.

  2. #22

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    I really appreciate hearing from the horses' mouth, and things are now a bit clearer. I especially appreciated the explanation of "Ghosts". Honestly, though, I would have expected a better technical execution of the concept (eg blobs of water hanging in the air rather than just a stream of water down the frame).

    And I suppose that's what it boils down to. I went down to see technically superior photography (being a photographer myself, that would be what I would be interested in). There was none of that, only artistic sentiments expressed through ordinary snapshots. Even then, I would have expected these sentiments to be expressed with some photographic flair. After all, the artist's claim to fame is as a photographer. I suppose there must have been some reason to withhold the commercial talent in expressing artistic sentiment, and I would be curious to know what that reason was.

    There is too much interpretation required. The work of art should be able to speak for itself. Otherwise it's like a silly, irritating game my kids have picked up from their classmates, where they pose an impossible situation, and ask you to explain it. When you are unable to do so, they give you an answer which you could only have arrived at if you had been aware of a piece of information which had not been previously supplied.

    Anyway, what do I know?

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by clang
    Hi Everyone……This is Clang, writing from NYC. A friend of mine refers me to this interesting page. It seems that a majority of you really dislike my artwork. A few of you actually feel that I’ve wasted your time. And one is not impressed with my attitude in the 8 Days interview. I do apologize for all that.

    My main purpose for putting a show in Singapore is to try to have my own fellow mate understand who I am. There is no doubt I’ve become a very successful photographer but that does not make me a lesser artist. I do not want to defend my work as I appreciate your critique.

    I do feel a bit discourage by your response. It was my decision to show in Singapore despite many objections from my Singapore friends. They warned me that many Singaporeans are not ready for this form of contemporary photography. I knew then and now I know. And also, by doing this exhibition, I do not ‘laugh all the way to the bank’ as one suggested. I have to finance a big portion of it as Singapore is still really new in the contemporary art scene. This is one area I hope we can push further. I thought I could contribute a bit to this development. But I’m probably wrong.

    My work is based on my mental visual diary and they sort of work as a filmstrip. When I look at a photograph, I do not critic its ‘prettiness’ or if ‘I can also shoot this’. I don’t try to challenge the artist motive. I try to feel where he or she is coming from. I do not judge images at a surface level. A seemingly simple image or an image that one quickly dissed as ‘a waste of time’ may surface more voice and nuance if one choose to truly listen with his heart. Good work requires attention and sometimes, we miss out by not paying enough attention to subtleties.

    The ‘process’ of creating an art (not technique) is as important as the art itself. When I look at an image, I also see the artist himself. I can also imagine the moments when the image is being taken. These ‘Self-portraits’ have also demonstrated the true friendship and trust I have with the sitter, Beon. He was a very awkward and extremely inferior guy. Through the process of creating this artwork for the last 4 years, I’ve managed to slowly help him to gain that self-confidence. And I don’t think we do this trying to impress anyone.

    I can’t change your chosen perception of me, especially I’m no longer an underdog that live in a 3-room HDB flat but a new millionaire that everyone loves to hate. But I hope we can all learn to ‘listen’ to every piece of art we encounter, especially one from your fellow Singaporean. Only then we can grow strong together internationally. At this moment, Singaporeans does not qualify for the art program in Moma PS1 in New York.

    And for those who seems unimpressed with other work on my website, I apologize too. It is just my diary that I’ve chosen to share. The people with their backs facing the camera are my parents & parents-in-laws. Not just various people. It is a continuation of my earlier series where their facial features are blurred and deleted. In these images, I was trying to convey how much I miss them, especially now that they are in their golden age. I’m frightened I may not remember their faces in my mind one day. Do check up the earlier series at www.bank-art.com/clang/clang/

    And as for the ‘NYC Ghost’, the water represents a human on the street without their flesh and bones but only the 70% water we contain. This is a reflection of how I feel after 911. I live two blocks away during the tragic event and have witness the 2nd plane crash and the towers collapsing.

    Finally… I think communications should be both sided. I feel that art is not a language that we can instantly use to communicate with one another. It requires patience and willingness, with open mind to see beyond.

    I don’t think I will be doing another show in Singapore in the near future. However, I will continue to support the Singapore art scene.

    Thank you so much for hearing me out. I appreciate it.
    Hey, if you need to explain your "art", then something is wrong. Good luck!

  4. #24

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    Sorry JC...these words still kept playing in my head,"When you paint, your painting depicts you...if you are lost, everyone will. Aesthetics is everywhere." got this advice from a china art lecturer.

  5. #25

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    from JC

    I have grown up and lived in a urban city for the last 30 years. This constantly intense, fast growing environment has sort of moulded me into who I am. I'm a paranoid, a worrier but at the same time an optimist, constantly in survival mode. The idea of simply being alive or
    a life form truly intrigues me.

    My work in a most subtle manner speaks about life and being alive. It is an acute observation or reflection of my persona. My immediate environment effects me in a consistent pattern
    evoking growth. Through my work I understand my life, my obsession and my fear.
    It is a kind of visual dairy which seemingly looks detached from daily life, but emotionally much more intense. It allows me to look at the past with minute details of an emotional and
    mental state, but without a sense of nostaligia. By doing that, it helps me to have a better grasp of the present and future.The passion of living grows with my work, consistently reminding me of the magic of life.

  6. #26

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    Guess everyone has a mental diary to unfold pictorially. I guess my 6 year old niece would be holding her exhibition in MOMA soon too. She uses a p & s now. You should check out her work. She has a lot to show, but not much to explain.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minoxman
    Guess everyone has a mental diary to unfold pictorially. I guess my 6 year old niece would be holding her exhibition in MOMA soon too. She uses a p & s now. You should check out her work. She has a lot to show, but not much to explain.
    i really must see this exhibition soon, so much controversey generated.

    anyhow i also want to go about earning my million dollars, get out from my 3room rathole. shoot for maybe Yohji Yamamoto or Martin Margiala.

    i have already made my first step, bought 2 p&s cameras, going to buy films later. Terry Richardson, watch out......

    no insult to anyone, and please don't love to hate me, learn to understand where i'm coming from. thanks!

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minoxman
    Guess everyone has a mental diary to unfold pictorially. I guess my 6 year old niece would be holding her exhibition in MOMA soon too. She uses a p & s now. You should check out her work. She has a lot to show, but not much to explain.
    I think you've got to get over the whole "technical" aspect of photography. it's just another medium. more important than how technically perfect a piece is is the message within the piece. I'm sure Clang can shoot a pristine picture with the best equipment if he wanted to. if he chooses to shoot in a manner that seems point and shoot perhaps it is because the method suits the concept.

    And yes sometimes artists have to explain their art because people are so caught up focusing on secondary things like how technically perfect a piece is that they miss the artist's intention.

  9. #29
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    Isn't the character the guy who is the cobbler working under the walkway beside the Somerset MRT carpark by the Specialist Center. I think there is quite a resemblance.

    Quote Originally Posted by clang
    These ‘Self-portraits’ have also demonstrated the true friendship and trust I have with the sitter, Beon. He was a very awkward and extremely inferior guy. Through the process of creating this artwork for the last 4 years, I’ve managed to slowly help him to gain that self-confidence. And I don’t think we do this trying to impress anyone.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock
    I think you've got to get over the whole "technical" aspect of photography. it's just another medium. more important than how technically perfect a piece is is the message within the piece. I'm sure Clang can shoot a pristine picture with the best equipment if he wanted to. if he chooses to shoot in a manner that seems point and shoot perhaps it is because the method suits the concept.

    And yes sometimes artists have to explain their art because people are so caught up focusing on secondary things like how technically perfect a piece is that they miss the artist's intention.
    You missed the whole point. Point is, JC's work aren't technically outstanding but commonplace. Anyone with anything to say or a concept to showcase could have done the same thing. If you jumble his work with some of the pictures in this forum, I would have bet you can't pick his masterpieces out from the lot. At least I can't. Now is that unappreciative of his art? Yes and no to different people.
    I am not one for technically perfect pictures. At least if you want to be different, be very different. I am aware others like his stuff and that's pretty cool. Just not to some.
    Like I mentioned, my niece could have been a millionairest too, given the chance and exposure. You too, if you open up your mental diaries.

  11. #31

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    Take a closer look at Ralph Gibson's work. Technically outstanding, unique and stylish. Many may not like his work, but most would be able to pick out his work from the rubbish we see in abundance. That is being different. You won't see him explaining his art online, that's for sure.
    In conclusion, if JC can do it, I don't see why anyone here not able to. That, is solely my personal opinion.
    Last edited by Minoxman; 24th June 2004 at 11:41 PM.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock
    I think you've got to get over the whole "technical" aspect of photography. it's just another medium. more important than how technically perfect a piece is is the message within the piece. I'm sure Clang can shoot a pristine picture with the best equipment if he wanted to. if he chooses to shoot in a manner that seems point and shoot perhaps it is because the method suits the concept.

    And yes sometimes artists have to explain their art because people are so caught up focusing on secondary things like how technically perfect a piece is that they miss the artist's intention.

  13. #33

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    perhaps john is right in saying that singapore is not ready for contemporary art. his works speak of his voice, his feelings towards the subjects. reading through this thread, it seems that the objective isn't about understanding the subjectivity of art but just criticism. the difference here is that he has made it while the rest of us are still talking here. won't that be more time wasting? be it art or street photography, i believe in professionism and professionism comes not with personal attack nor unconstructive criticism. it is indeed true that it is not what goes into the mouth that is harmful but what come out of it that can be.

    i stand in agreement with my fellow singaporean photographer in New York City.
    let's talk less and do more so that people will hear about the photography that is coming out of singapore.

    the least we could do is to let them know that we are not located somewhere in China.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleming
    perhaps john is right in saying that singapore is not ready for contemporary art. his works speak of his voice, his feelings towards the subjects. reading through this thread, it seems that the objective isn't about understanding the subjectivity of art but just criticism. the difference here is that he has made it while the rest of us are still talking here. won't that be more time wasting? be it art or street photography, i believe in professionism and professionism comes not with personal attack nor unconstructive criticism. it is indeed true that it is not what goes into the mouth that is harmful but what come out of it that can be.

    i stand in agreement with my fellow singaporean photographer in New York City.
    let's talk less and do more so that people will hear about the photography that is coming out of singapore.

    the least we could do is to let them know that we are not located somewhere in China.
    Hi Fleming,

    first of all, let me welcome you to clubsnap

    To appreciate a piece of art, you definately have to understand it. But to fully appreciate it, you critize it. An artist must be able to 'defend' his visions and ideas.

    Like JC said himself, art is a 2-way communication. He did some work, we gave some feedback.

    Oh... one more thing which is bothering me.

    NY is indeed the fashion hub of the world. It is the 'most happening' place on earth. BUT that doesn't mean places other than NY is 'backward'.

    Why did I make such a comment?

    I sense a few of the photographers have the mentality that whatever is accepted, loved or popularized in NY means it is accepted else where. If peeps in other places don't like it, it just means that are not 'contemporary' enuff or just not as creative or are just plain backwards.

    I beg to differ. Yes, many interesting and creative idea do fly ard in NY. But what is accepted there only applies to that particular American culture.

    For our instance, this is Singapore. If your stuffs didn't work here.... it didn't. It didn't work here not because this island is not contemporary enuff etc. But you overlooked the difference in the culture and social environment. Don't assume what works there will work here.

    I think it is a good idea that we have fellow singaporeans to bring in fresh ideas from overseas. ANd I don't see why a few critisim is gonna bog any of you down.

    Pardon me for being so loh soh....im a singaporean aftereall :P

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by clang
    Hi Everyone……This is Clang, writing from NYC. A friend of mine refers me to this interesting page. It seems that a majority of you really dislike my artwork. A few of you actually feel that I’ve wasted your time. And one is not impressed with my attitude in the 8 Days interview. I do apologize for all that.

    My main purpose for putting a show in Singapore is to try to have my own fellow mate understand who I am. There is no doubt I’ve become a very successful photographer but that does not make me a lesser artist. I do not want to defend my work as I appreciate your critique.

    I do feel a bit discourage by your response. It was my decision to show in Singapore despite many objections from my Singapore friends. They warned me that many Singaporeans are not ready for this form of contemporary photography. I knew then and now I know. And also, by doing this exhibition, I do not ‘laugh all the way to the bank’ as one suggested. I have to finance a big portion of it as Singapore is still really new in the contemporary art scene. This is one area I hope we can push further. I thought I could contribute a bit to this development. But I’m probably wrong.

    My work is based on my mental visual diary and they sort of work as a filmstrip. When I look at a photograph, I do not critic its ‘prettiness’ or if ‘I can also shoot this’. I don’t try to challenge the artist motive. I try to feel where he or she is coming from. I do not judge images at a surface level. A seemingly simple image or an image that one quickly dissed as ‘a waste of time’ may surface more voice and nuance if one choose to truly listen with his heart. Good work requires attention and sometimes, we miss out by not paying enough attention to subtleties.

    The ‘process’ of creating an art (not technique) is as important as the art itself. When I look at an image, I also see the artist himself. I can also imagine the moments when the image is being taken. These ‘Self-portraits’ have also demonstrated the true friendship and trust I have with the sitter, Beon. He was a very awkward and extremely inferior guy. Through the process of creating this artwork for the last 4 years, I’ve managed to slowly help him to gain that self-confidence. And I don’t think we do this trying to impress anyone.

    I can’t change your chosen perception of me, especially I’m no longer an underdog that live in a 3-room HDB flat but a new millionaire that everyone loves to hate. But I hope we can all learn to ‘listen’ to every piece of art we encounter, especially one from your fellow Singaporean. Only then we can grow strong together internationally. At this moment, Singaporeans does not qualify for the art program in Moma PS1 in New York.

    And for those who seems unimpressed with other work on my website, I apologize too. It is just my diary that I’ve chosen to share. The people with their backs facing the camera are my parents & parents-in-laws. Not just various people. It is a continuation of my earlier series where their facial features are blurred and deleted. In these images, I was trying to convey how much I miss them, especially now that they are in their golden age. I’m frightened I may not remember their faces in my mind one day. Do check up the earlier series at www.bank-art.com/clang/clang/

    And as for the ‘NYC Ghost’, the water represents a human on the street without their flesh and bones but only the 70% water we contain. This is a reflection of how I feel after 911. I live two blocks away during the tragic event and have witness the 2nd plane crash and the towers collapsing.

    Finally… I think communications should be both sided. I feel that art is not a language that we can instantly use to communicate with one another. It requires patience and willingness, with open mind to see beyond.

    I don’t think I will be doing another show in Singapore in the near future. However, I will continue to support the Singapore art scene.

    Thank you so much for hearing me out. I appreciate it.


    What can I say......JC actually you need not to explain anything to anyone. This is just being in Singapore which the Goverment have spoon feed their mouth for the last few decades. Still need to feeding still........

    To me your work do not need be translated. Why should you? I went to New York to see some other photography works by other photographers which has it's own identity and do not need them to translate their work to anyone. It's either you love it or hate it. I think you would have less or no problem over there compare to here.

    But it's good that work is controvesial or else no one will be noticing or talking about it. This is a good sign for you JC. I still think you should bring in works to Singapore art scene. The younger generations need all this exposure to gain experience. I for one will support it.

    Does it matter that much if you are a millionaire? You earn it! Who cares? Many artist all around the world are multi millionaires or billionaires. You are still a human after all.....

    Thanks! My 0.000005 cents worth..........

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by meepokman
    Hi Fleming,

    first of all, let me welcome you to clubsnap

    To appreciate a piece of art, you definately have to understand it. But to fully appreciate it, you critize it. An artist must be able to 'defend' his visions and ideas.

    Like JC said himself, art is a 2-way communication. He did some work, we gave some feedback.

    Oh... one more thing which is bothering me.

    NY is indeed the fashion hub of the world. It is the 'most happening' place on earth. BUT that doesn't mean places other than NY is 'backward'.

    Why did I make such a comment?

    I sense a few of the photographers have the mentality that whatever is accepted, loved or popularized in NY means it is accepted else where. If peeps in other places don't like it, it just means that are not 'contemporary' enuff or just not as creative or are just plain backwards.

    I beg to differ. Yes, many interesting and creative idea do fly ard in NY. But what is accepted there only applies to that particular American culture.

    For our instance, this is Singapore. If your stuffs didn't work here.... it didn't. It didn't work here not because this island is not contemporary enuff etc. But you overlooked the difference in the culture and social environment. Don't assume what works there will work here.

    I think it is a good idea that we have fellow singaporeans to bring in fresh ideas from overseas. ANd I don't see why a few critisim is gonna bog any of you down.

    Pardon me for being so loh soh....im a singaporean aftereall :P
    hi, just in case I gave the wrong impression, the photographic work (fashion-wise) in New York is in fact very diverse and a lot of it is quite european in style even. There are some great magazines , New York is just a point of reference because it seems that many people end up here showcasing their work and there's alot of exposure to work from other countries too (french photo mag WAD is interesting conceptually (just look at the cover on the website page. take a few minutes to figure out what it's saying. took me a week reading the magazine before I actually noticed it), Flaunt is another good magazine to check out.

    In fact there are many chinese artists showcasing their work in New York right now, while personally I am not too impressed by their work, I have to state that their ideas are much more progressive and daring than anything I've seen in Singapore. and I would say that China society is more "backwards" in a sense than Singapore (aren't we supposed to be all high tech and modern). so don't get the wrong impression, Singapore is contemporary but its artistic daring is still very stifled. The culture in New York is VERY different from Singapore of course, but there's a real passion for art and ideas and creativity here. I can personally tell you that my friends and I think that 95% of the work we see in the galleries is crap, but we still have to give them kudos for daring to pursue their vision.

    And Minoxman, if you think it's so easy to pull off a concept why don't you try it? It's one thing to take one photo, it's another totally different story to create a body of work that carries a theme with meaning behind it through. Personally the pictures of the series on the family members with their faces erased out touched a nerve with me. Sure, anyone could do it, just photoshop lah! But would you have had the daring to go and do it? or would you have been caught up in your rules of photography and technical perfection? What were you looking for in the exhibition?
    I know I'm being very biased here but the issue is bigger than just one exhibition, it's the whole idea of our arts scene, be it photography or theater or singers.

    The difference is that even though many people in New York may think alot of the work they see is crap, they're willing to give it a chance. Here we have one of the few artists from our country actually making it big internationally and we can't be more supportive. Is it some sort of singaporean thing? Sun Yanzi had to go to Taiwan to make it big before our own countrymen could acknowledge her. An amazing writer from Singapore (I love his works and place them as highly as Haruki Murakami's works) wants to move to KL because his own country doesn't want to give him support and appreciation. Our own Government would rather spend $300 million building a white elephant of a beautiful building with a yearful $30million upkeep to attract international acts rather than passing that money along to our own country's artists.
    How sad!

    Perhaps we could give our artists more benefit of a doubt and more support, instead of dismissing it straight away. If John Clang's work succeeded internationally perhaps there is some DEPTH to his work that we're not seeing. Perhaps we should have questioned the meaning of his work instead of dismissing it as amateurish straight away! How about that?

    And Minoxman, since you think so highly of your niece maybe you go looking for the chance and exposure for her. You think chance and exposure comes along while you're sitting at home bitching?

  17. #37

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    Matlock, go bitch in your own backyard ok? I was just expressing my own opinion on this issue, like yourself bitching above. Say what you want about JC and leave it at that.
    For what it is wirth, his work is ORDINARY. SO what if he made it? Many ordinary people are millionares with a bit of luck.
    Bitchers.

  18. #38

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    haha yes of course it's a good thing I don't bitch too often.
    Whatever it is,I hope John Clang brings back more work to showcase back home
    It'll definitely inspire some Singaporeans

  19. #39

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    to summarise

    To most, JC made it commercially, big time!
    his customers, the big names in fashion, advertising and brands, buy him.

    To most, JC did not quite make it artistically.
    his customers, the ordinary people, did not quite buy him.

    If Picasso or Monet during their time were to quit practising art due to some critics, then we would not have come to appreciate their art.
    True artists just go on....

    so keep at it, JC, whether on the artistic or commercial platform..
    The world will appreciate you for the art that you bring forth on either platform.

    And let's open it to critique or compliments, isn't this what art is all about?
    But at least keep away the personal gibes...... okay clubsnappers?
    Last edited by snappist; 25th June 2004 at 08:44 AM.

  20. #40

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    hi one last thing
    it'll be good to take a look at his commercial work
    some of it is astounding
    John Clang

    Click on the drop down menu below on the page

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