F-Stop Magazine: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “(PHOTO)graphy”, can you tell us about this project? What led to this project?
Sheung Yiu: A lot of the inspiration for the project comes from realizing how photography is ever evolving. How my experience with photography now is drastically different from the previous generations. Photo paper is not necessary for viewing an image anymore. Image is freed from its physical carrier. When we say ‘photograph’ now, we are referring to the image made by a camera, instead of the photo paper where an image is exposed on. Although the two seems to have very similar meanings, they are distinctly different. In a way, I think something inherent about photography is lost in this transition, one of them being the physicality of a photograph, so (PHOTO)graphy is a project that accentuates this exact quality of a photograph as if photograph is an surrealistic object.
F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?
SY: There is a lot of reading about how people used to make photographs, and also a lot of online research, scrolling through tumblr and looking at photos that is more than just an good image. The rest of it is me figuring out various ways to manipulate the photo paper to bring out the physicality of a photograph, bending it, twisting it and burning it, and understanding how these relates to the image on the photo paper. As I continued trying different methods, I find the flattening of the photographed object onto a 2D plane and resurrecting it to a 3D space through bending the photo paper especially interesting. Working on this basis, I looked for appropriate images online, print them out and work them into my photographs.
F-Stop: How does this project relate to other work or project you have done? Do you approach your projects in the same way as your editorial or travel work?
SY: My approaches to my projects and my travel work are polar opposite. When I worked on projects such as ‘The Domestication of Nature’ and ‘Homely and Unhomely’, I make photos instead of taking them. I think ‘making’ photos gives you more time and space to look beyond the image aspects of photography, and see the medium as a means to bigger goals, instead of an end of itself. Taking good pictures, being there and enjoying the image itself is fun and all, I enjoy the work of Juergen Teller, Stacy Kranitz, Kohei Yoshiyuki and Ume Kayo very much, but I don’t work as well under the pressure of capturing the moment. I tend to work in a slower, more contemplative manner. I think that attitude sparks my interest in learning about the history and application of the medium, which ultimately led me to my projects.
F-Stop: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?
SY: I would ask them to imagine they have never ever seen a photo in their lives and see how strange that a photograph actually is.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
SY: My favorite image is one simply named ‘Photos of Metal Wires’. I talked about how photography translate a 3D object into a 2D plane and through manipulating the photo paper, the image once again return to the 3D reality, I think that image communicate this idea the best. The resulting image has a visual simplicity to it and that simplicity brings out my message among al the images.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
SY: I am currently working on a project about science education. I have been going to library and flipping through science textbooks to understand the logic behind these images. They are fascinating to look at. Some are utterly arbitrary while others are very well conceived and precise. Nonetheless, all depends heavily on the accompanied text to fixate an scientific idea to the image. They are confusing to look at at first glance, almost like a riddle.
To see more of Sheung Yiu’s work: www.sheungyiu.com