When I saw the spectacle of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, I was confounded by the scene. It was covered by scaffolding with a life-size painting, an exact replica, of the cathedral. The separation between reality and simulation collapsed before my naked eyes. Depending on where I stood, as my perspective shifted, the building was travelling between the realm of realism and that of hyper-reality. For me, it was surreal.
The life-size painting of the cathedral masked the original, but also stood in for it. The reality of the sight welcomed many passers-by and visitors. There are two streams of thought in art history. One seeks to imitate the real world and the other to project the ideal. These two streams have always been at odds with each other; the history of art has been a dialogue between realism and idealism.
When science advanced during the Renaissance, enabling the representation of perspective, it offered a way to capture three-dimensional reality on a two dimensional plane. The invention of photography in 1839 was sensational as images became so real as to appear life-like. The photography medium made possible to convert a three-dimensional object into a fixed two-dimensions.
However, when a photograph represents a two-dimensional perspective painting, does this represent a three-dimensional reality or offer its mirror image?
My question in "Facade" is: what does such a photography imply? The real or the ideal? The body of work that I produced after carefully observing the St Paul’s Cathedral examines photography’s ambivalent role in representation.
From the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, there was a controversy between a style that imitated the salon-like pictorial atmosphere and that of pictorial photography. In the post-war era, hyper-realism and photo realism emerged. In the digital era, the boundary between painting and photography was blurred, which resulted in hybridising forms. These two genres became indistingusihable.
If a photographic technique produces a visual image to the exact size and shape of the object it represents, would it be a photograph or a painting?
What happens if an artist manipulates a digitalised photographic image using computer techniques to enhance it much better than the previous representation?
In addtion, if an artist literally photogaphed a photo-realist painting, is the resulting image a photograph or a painting?
"Facade" explores the fluidity between the real and the ideal. My photographs portrays the trompe l’oeil paintings decorated on the scaffolding, the covering, and the wall. In my opinion, they are simply there to fulfill the human desire to experience the ideal in this real world. It is the desire instable in the urban spaces in our contemporary era.
— Han Sungpil, December 2005
FeatureFacadeKorean photographer Han Sungpil marvels at the elaborate
photographic illusions erected to hide the construction and architectural
face-lifts of buildings around the world.View Images
Korean photographer Han Sungpil marvels at the elaborate photographic illusions erected to hide the construction and architectural face-lifts of buildings around the world.View Images
Korean photographer Han Sungpil marvels at the elaborate photographic illusions erected to hide the construction and architectural face-lifts of buildings around the world.
Holy Light © Han Sungpil
Janus © Han Sungpil
La vie est belle © Han Sungpil
Neo City © Han Sungpil
Displaced Space © Han Sungpil
Fata Morgana © Han Sungpil
Key of Truth © Han Sungpil
Layers © Han Sungpil
The Dominion of Light © Han Sungpil
Red Curtain © Han Sungpil
Replacement © Han Sungpil
The Hugh Lamplight © Han Sungpil
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