Interview by PHOTO TALKS 2016

Photo Talks is an artist collective based in Taipei, Taiwan.

This is the third consecutive year that Young Art Taipei held Portfolio Review. YAT invited the professionals from Taiwan and around the world, to speak with 26 reviewees about their works. After a whole-day intense discussion and voting between the judges, they decided that the Best Portfolio Review Award goes to Yehlin Lee, and Special Jury Prize to Shujen Chen. Photo Talks conducted a short interview with Yehlin. We invite him to share with us his work and his thoughts about the Portfolio Review.

Could you briefly introduce the theme of your work that you brought to YAT "Portfolio Review"?

The title of this work is “Listening to the Dark”. Most of the images were taken when night starts to fall at the corners of cities in Taiwan since 2011. Moreover, this title comes also from my experience of making sound art since 2001. Back then, the ideal circumstance for both creation and performance is sheer darkness. By doing so, the visual perception recedes, and the aural perception may achieve a higher level of concentration.

Therefore, instead of saying that my theme is about the subject represented by the images, I would say it is more about the images itself and the different phasing between representation and visual perception. (The term 'phasing’ may be understood as the technique in Steve Reich’s composition.) What I care more is the the response of viewers (including myself) while seeing the work. The difference between the first look, the second, and the look after a long while: may it be confusion, emotion, personal memory, associations of meaning, or even poetic sentiment…



This is the second time you joined “Portfolio Review”. What’s the difference of your work both in content and form? How do you react to the opinions of the reviewers last time?


I had a great chance to meet international professionals in 2014. Shen Chao-Liang gave me his opinion on making photo books. Chang Chao-Tang and Masato Seto set the standard of a picture. Gu Zheng and Edward Chiu gave me practical advices on exhibition.

Therefore, the content of my work has greatly changed this time. During the process of taking photos, I start to be aware of the way I look. Once I found I am taking repetitive pictures, I try to get rid of the habitual way of looking. It seems that I have made some progress in the following aspects: on the timing of pressing the shutter, the fluidity within the picture, the openness of meaning, and taking all the accidents and failures during photo taking as gifts. Simply put, because of the awareness of the way I look, I start to shoot with more freedom.

Speaking of the form, I start to make this book since 2013, and the present one is the fourth version. For image sequencing, I focus on the rise and fall of emotional strength. I try to shape the rhythm of reading by using different sizes, blank spaces in pages, spreads andrhymes in content. It is also worth mentioning that luckily I find an excellent Taiwanese designer Ho Chia-Hsing ( a.k.a Timonium Lake). With his professional opinion on paper material, book size, and layout, the whole book becomes a much tightly connected integrity.



Other than the recognition of the prize, what else did you learn in this review? Could you share with us the opinion from reviewers that impressed you the most?


Before this review, all I expect is just to know and receive professional opinions about how to take pictures and how to make a good photo book. I, as a photographer with pre-occupied ideas of the image, often have difficulty on editing. It is not easy to relieve myself of previous thoughts and get a fresh second look of the image. This is the moment that a professional editor’s experience shines.

Mrs. Kimi Himeno from AKAAKA thinks that some images not selected in the book are worth considering again. Although she didn’t specified reasons, I guess her selection is to get a better balance between concrete and abstract for the whole book, and to have more surprise. Meanwhile, she also gave a quote from Daido Moriyama: “Shooting before publishing is the most important.” Now I start to realize the meaning of this saying.



What is your personal opinion of the importance of Portfolio Review?


Portfolio Review makes me to recognize the width and depth in the world of photography. I was also imbued by the enthusiasm from the peer reviewees. The judges coming from different cultural circles make their straight advices from his or her own perspectives. These opinions will be the necessary reminders and challenges in the journey of artistic creation. At the same time, seeing reviewees’ work and exchanging opinions between peers is like what Mr. Shen Chao-Liang said: “It feels so great to bath in developer and fixer these days!”. Feeling this passion of creation, I believe that every reviewee would be moving forward with abundant energy just like me!