More than meets the eye: Cross-cultural interpretations of digitally manipulated photography: A case study of the photographic artworks of Tae Yang ('Sunny') Hong in his exhibition 'Women Technology Utopia': An Australian perspective

Christine Nicholls

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Abstract

    Interpreting visual information conveyed by artistic traditions based on culturally different epistemological and conceptual frameworks offers significant challenges. There is a good deal of anecdotal evidence that deeply monocultural Australian students learning about certain 'Asian' artistic traditions for the first time are particularly susceptible to making serious interpretive errors 1 when reading 'other-culture' visual imagery, despite the fact that such visual information may look - on the surface at least - very similar to imagery in artworks with which they are culturally familiar. This is a problem that goes well beyond the purely pedagogical, affecting all persons working towards an understanding of the visual information conveyed by cultural products outside of their own experience. Furthermore, this applies to digital art as much as to painting and other media. Therefore it is important that when working in such cross-cultural contexts the understanding that there is often a good deal more to understanding visual artwork than the purely visual - or that which meets the eye - be nurtured and developed. The following analysis of photographic artworks exhibited by South Korean-born, Newcastle-based digital artist Tae Yang ('Sunny') Hong in his recent exhibition WOMEN, TECHNOLOGY, UTOPIA, presents such an interpretive challenge. Sunny Hong uses a blurring technique based on the Chinese philosophical tradition of Taoism, arising directly from the Hun Yuan Qi system. To understand and engage with Hong's oeuvre it is thus essential that one develop a visual and cultural knowledge-based understanding of the belief system underlying Hong's approach. The aim of this paper is therefore to contribute to a greater understanding of the fundamental principle that cultural difference is deeply encrypted in visual information, and that such difference goes beyond the visual, insofar as it resides at the level of the episteme. It should be added that today, as a result of increasing globalisation, there is very little visual art that does not draw upon a range of cultural influences, or evince a level of cultural hybridity, and Hong's oeuvre is no exception. Rosenberg's poetic model of research, developed specifically in relation to visual art and design research, will be brought into play here in order to illuminate Sunny Hong's body of visual artwork.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages546-554
    Number of pages9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2012
    Event16th International Conference on Information Visualisation -
    Duration: 11 Jul 2012 → …

    Conference

    Conference16th International Conference on Information Visualisation
    Period11/07/12 → …

    Keywords

    • cross-cultural interpretation
    • digital photography
    • epistemology
    • Hun Yuan Qi system
    • hybridity
    • poetic research
    • Taoism
    • visual information

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