School of Art, Media, and Technology

MFA Photography Multiple Alumni Participating in YOU ARE NOT PARANOID, OBSERVE YOURSELF BEING WATCHED Exhibition

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MiA Collective Art is Curating the exhibition YOU ARE NOT PARANOID, OBSERVE YOURSELF BEING WATCHED Exhibition which features multiple alumni from the MFA Photography program, CHEN XIAO: 2014 WOO RAM JUNG: 2014, JONATHAN DAVID SMYTH: 2014, ZHONG JINMING: 2017, & ZHOU YICHEN: 2012.

Humans care a great deal about being watched. Our behaviors change and are affected by the idea of being alone or under the gaze of someone or something. Once we step outside of our homes, there is nothing entirely private about us. As we wait for the subway in the station, walk on the street, have a cup of coffee at a café or step inside an elevator, there are the gazing eyes of the cameras and people. Whether we consciously or unconsciously realize those gazes, we comply, without a thought, of such situations and leave our traces behind. Are we, then, safe from being watched once we are in our private spaces such as our very own home?

The artists in this exhibition explore the ways in which the digital media affect our understanding of privacy and surveillance. In their performance video, Chen Xiao and Zhou Yichen construct a tension of their violent struggles to be watched and confronted in a public space where the real or performative communication becomes distorted. In his black and white street photography, Woo Ram Jung captures strangers he encounters on the streets noticing that they are being watched through the minuscule camera lens and smartphones. Some greet with a smile, some observe with a wary look, some intentionally avoid and some are indifferent. In her sequential Photographic work, Lee Youngho explores the expansion of human senses and perception by analyzing, deconstructing and reconstructing material misprision. Elegant little film seems like the last gasps of the age of silver based photography, its imagery somewhat magically appearing from a clear photographic swell. On the opposite end of sharing self-portraits on social media, Lu Chong and Luo Xiyu uncover their unwillingly taken “self-portraits” from the surveillance camera at a parking lot. Jonathan David Smyth, with his fullest willingness, posts the overflowing number of his self-portrait images on social media, sharing his digital remains to the unknown. In her 13-hour film, Zhong Jinming presents a real-time narrative by giving the audience access through any digital device, but not allowing the control thereof. Together, these works examine and challenge our understanding of the flow of data in our contemporary lives. As the title, You Are Not Paranoid, Observe Yourself Being Watched, suggests, can we tolerate the supremacy of technology and observe ourselves being watched?

ZHONG JINMING, Nomadic Butterflies & Intellectual Properties From the Long Walk of Steven and Poppy, Including Streets, Songs and Flying Cigarettes, 2017. HD Video, 13 hours © Courtesy of the artist

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