“Photoshop” in Reality 蔡司虹:攝影 VS 色斑

The Unknown《不明物》 Digital Photograph (2006)

The Unknown《不明物》
Digital Photograph (2006) (courtesy of the artist)

[下見中文]

Janet S.H. Choi was a photography graduate from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver sever years ago. She felt deeply lost at times that she wandered around some deserted areas. The strong wind from the Pacific Ocean inspired her to make a stunning photograph called The Unknown, which mystically captured an unknown creature hiding with its unknown fear. Since coming back to Hong Kong, she almost abandoned pursuing art and photography.

Until recent years, Janet got her inspiration at work as a photographer. But once you know what this artist does for living, you will be as curious as me. “I work in the plastic surgery department in a hospital. I take photographs of patients, before and after treatment, as well as the process of surgery.” I showed my utmost interest to the unknown world and she answered me professionally. “My job requires me to take photos of any body part in an identical manner and setting. I also need to remove identification from the photos like earrings, pendants or even moles not related to the surgery. Finally, I will have them cropped to the concerned area. A human body somehow has been objectified, like a packed piece of meat in the market, whereas my role is to reproduce it for clinical use.”

My kind of response was expected. According to her statistic, 90% people eager to know more about plastic surgery while 10% known her well would feel pity for her creative talent and aesthetic passion. When photography acts as a medium at work, Janet starts to relate it to plastic surgery, and explore its nature. “People looking for a treatment are resolute against pigmentation. Think it this way – pigment is formed by prolonged exposure to light which causes ‘photo damage’ on skin. In photography, photo-imaging is formed also by light exposure over time. Through the lens, people aim to reproduce images as they’ve seen in life, not to mention their latest model of top-notch DSLR camera.”

In her recent work, Janet set up an installation of ‘face maps’ which embodied injection and traditional physiognomy. Viewers could choose their own perfect face and adjust their images in front of the mirrors. “On one hand, I would like to express a perfect face is a projection of desire to control one’s own face, or fate. But the face maps like plastic implants and surgeries are controlled by doctors and implant manufacturers. On the other hand, the movement of fitting themselves in front of the mirrors is like adjusting the depth of field in photography. Photography as such does not require a camera.” Following this interesting association, Janet as a master graduate-to-be will continue to explore pigmentations in a photographic discourse for her coming work.

When asked by the nosy interviewer about her work again, Janet remarked, “There were several occasions inside the photography room that patients persuade me to have my single eyelids folded.” If you think Koreans are more receptive to plastic surgery, the clinical photographer tells you that it is equally popular in Hong Kong. People here are just less open to share.

蔡司虹(Janet)七年前畢業於溫哥華Emily Carr藝術及設計學院,主修攝影。她坦言在學期間心情迷失,常常到人跡罕至的地方蹓躂,有次走到荒無之地,受太平洋吹來的強風獲得靈感,創作了描繪《不明物》與無名恐懼的攝影作品,畢業後回流香港幾乎停止藝術創作。直至近年,Janet從工作中再度獲得啟發,重身走上創作路。

一旦知道Janet的工作,相必你也如我好奇萬分。「我是醫院整形外科的臨床攝影師,為病人記錄手術前後和手術室的過程。」簡單幾句已令筆者雙眼放光,顯得無限好奇,而這位臨床攝影師專業地回答:「我每日的工作就是拍攝病人相關身體部份,效果、光線盡可能一模一樣,然後從照片中刪除個人表記如耳環、鍊項、無關整形的癦等,最後我會把照片剪裁至與手術相關的部份。我的臨床工作需要將血肉之軀視為物件並複製至照片上,猶如市場上一片包裝好的肉。」

我過份失儀的反應實屬正常。據Janet統計,九成人知道她的職業後感興趣,餘下一成都是熟悉她卻為她不能追隨藝術創作而感可惜。工作上,她視攝影是媒介,卻漸漸返回攝影的本質,探索整形外科和攝影的關係。「想來做手術的人對色斑很執着;色斑是由於皮膚長時間暴露於陽光下而成的『光損傷』,而攝影的『成像』也要曝光和經歷時間。人們通過鏡頭複製眼目所見的影像,為何要複製?更別提他們手握的是頂級鏡頭和相機了。」

近期的一件裝置作品,Janet造了一系列結合微針療法與傳統墨相的「完美臉譜」。觀者可找一張心水臉龐,把臉在臉譜鏡前對準。「我想藉着作品探討整容是控制臉孔與命運的一種投射,但那些完美臉譜就如醫生為你落刀,植入物有其供應商,其實都不在你控制之內。另一方面,觀眾把臉對準臉譜,其動作就像鏡頭調校景深,如此一來,攝影再不需要相機了。」以此創作脈絡,Janet將會在藝術碩士畢業展中伸延探索攝影論述中色斑的題材。

在筆者再三好奇的提問下,Janet分享了些趣事。「有幾次我在替病人拍攝時,他們遊說我找醫生做雙眼皮。」筆者以為整形外科在韓國較為流行,這位臨床攝影師說其實這裏也普遍,只是香港人不想太張揚罷了。

[The edited version of this article was published in a.m. post July edition.]

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