Representation, Authenticity, and Photography
Authenticity, Representation & Power
To take a photograph is to exert the power of representation. When we're taking pictures of something, we're exerting our authority to determine what defines this thing. We're separating and replicating specific moments in time and marking them as more significant than other moments.
Whether or not others accept this exertion of power is, well, another power game in itself.
The sense of "authenticity" implies some kind of idea of originality, of realness, of purity. The idea is that once we strip away all the layers and get down to the very core, that's where we can find what something really is.
This rise of technology, including Photoshop, also causes problems for our senses of authenticity. We see this perhaps happening in the music world as well (records, anyone?), where people purposely use lower quality technology to record their images (or music) in order to preserve this realness. Even multi-million dollar companies like American Apparel have ad campaigns that evoke the type of cheap, amateur, flash photography that come with disposable cameras. Candid,
In a place like Hong Kong, that's called the intersection of East and West, the hub of globalization, a place of diverse and hybrid culture, this definition can get quite messy. So what is authentic to Hong Kong?
Perhaps the answer is...subjective? In the eyes of the beholder?
I handed out cameras to people in Hong Kong asking them to take pictures simply of What Represents Hong Kong? The idea was to combine art practice with some theories of photography.
By doing this project, I became more aware that my own implicit definition of authenticity was present in the way I chose to give out cameras: people who have physically occupied the space within the borders of Hong Kong
for some time.