Taiwanese photographer Lin Yung Cheng uses the female body as his canvas, exploring issues from womanhood to general humanity through the forms and figures that he creates.
Provoking a sense of disgust and intrigue, Cheng’s photography challenges the audience’s perception on various subjects through their interpretation of his own multi-layered images. Emphasising the oddities and capabilities of the body and mind, we are pulled into a visceral agenda that promotes frankness around how we understand, portray and talk about the body.
His photos are stripped back. Bare. With everyday objects like mirrors, pens and string, Cheng commentates on the skin, the blood, the bones that hold us all together. Manipulating his subject's body, shown warts and all under unflattering white light, we are expected to take these images and turn them inwards, looking at ourselves and what our own capabilities and limitations are.
One of the main things that we can derive from the images is an overall feeling of sensation. Cheng thrives on portraying the senses, on capturing moments that make us recoil. From ice cream dripping down the body, its icy cold and sticky liquid form making its way down the subject’s spine to various optical illusions inducing a sense of curiosity about whether we are seeing true contortion or a trick.
He is an art director, which shows through his work, his eye for the impactful immediately obvious. Just as the topics of his photographs, the subject of each are similarly pushed to their extremes, to breaking point, manipulating skin and tendon as far as it’ll go. This makes us stop and think. What if this was us? What would we do?
Despite this sense of extremity, his photographs are conversely defined by a sense of control and discipline. As subjects hold their shape, stitch their skin, lay immovably still in spite of what’s happening to them, we are made to feel the sense of dignity associated with life in the East, as opposed to the excess and lack of control that is becoming increasingly tied to Western cultures.
Moreover, each photograph, in amongst the plethora of senses at play, highlights the sheer wonder of the human body. The geometry that hints at divine perfection, the implausible movements attesting to the versatility of human thought and action. Nothing feels complete in his photographs, more like a work-in-progress, a cyclical process that could keep going on and on. Evolution, in a word.
Somewhere between limitation and possibility, Cheng’s photographs make us wonder what each of his chosen themes really mean and what they mean to us. What can we do? What can’t we? Why?
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