“And I Wander” is an ongoing photographic series that acts as a visual metaphor for my struggle to assimilate into American life as an immigrant from Taiwan. It captures the vast, luminous landscapes of the Arizona desert and the urban-dwelling where I call home for the past three decades. Those natural features, yawning blue skies, and lush yellow and green flora are dreamily reflected on the surface of a nebulous humanoid figure, which waxes and wanes in visibility between images: sometimes clearly differentiated against and occasionally hidden within its environment. Yet this chameleonic presence is never fully incorporated. Balancing the ‘yang’ of these landscapes’ tranquil stillness is the potent melancholy ‘yin’ of this solitary figure: conveying my unreconciled yearning for a sense of belonging in America.
Taking inspiration from the Hungarian artist André Kertész and his 1933 series of Distortion photographs, I cut out carnival mirrors to resemble my own silhouette and then placed them within the landscape to function as my metaphorical surrogates. A figure is concealed to varying degrees within each image, depending on its relation to the camera and immediate environment. If foreground and background unite perfectly, visual continuity is maintained. It appears to merge with its surroundings; if not, this continuity is ruptured to surreal effect, making the hazy human form evident. While the figure’s rippling depth appears to be a digital effect, it’s entirely the result of my analog process. Taken on film using 6×7 and 6×12 medium format cameras, I simply focus the camera on the mirror’s uneven surface to engender this impression, which provides a visual analogy for my subjective experience.
All images and text © Wen Hang Lin
By Wen Hang Lin
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