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In-Camera Trickery
December 19, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Artist Li Wei does some amazing things in-camera. Rather than relying on heavy post processing with Photoshop, he prefers trickery with mirrors, acrobatic performers, wire-work, and a well timed camera shutter.

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posted by quin (11 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok, now that was refreshing :)
posted by pjern at 10:10 AM on December 19, 2011


Love Li Wei. I got a book of his about a month ago and it's a pretty fabulous balance of WOW-factor and strong conceptual framework.
posted by Theta States at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2011


Nothing against these photos, but is it just me, or is anybody else always mostly turned off when works of art are presented in a "this was done in a very special way" to start off with?

I'm all for interesting methods, but I am always more intrigued when I like something based on the work alone, and then find out later how it was made.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:18 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


It might not matter how something is made in terms of art (that's a fundamental question of literary criticism, right?), but it definitely matters how a photo is made in terms of documentary. When you see a photo of cops beating a protester or a fashion model with no ribcage or a child holding hands with a lion or buildings falling down in Detroit, it matters very much whether the photo represents reality or Photoshop.

In this case, part of the fun here is the author's claim that he created a real scene that looks like this, so we can try to figure out how on Earth he did it -- they're like little magic tricks or puzzles. Since I know exactly how to recreate these in Photoshop, the game is only fun if Photoshop isn't an option. (Or if you don't want to think of it as a puzzle, you can just be happy that someone really did get to hang upside down in a field to bring you this image.)

I'm not sure he does avoid Photoshop entirely, by the way: "In contrast, another 2007 photo, Never Say failure, features a team of Chinese basketball players appearing to resist gravity's reality. With the help of cables photo-shopped out, they fly through the air with the greatest of ease, slam dunking Li Wei's body into a basketball hoop. This photo is Li Wei's artistic assertion that even against impossible odds, where there is a will, there is always a way."

So one answer to the riddle of these photos is that there are wires you can't see. I'd prefer magic.
posted by jhc at 10:58 AM on December 19, 2011


Monk on a paddleboard is puzzling. I'm not really sure what the trick is supposed to be, other than "LOL, look, a monk on a paddleboard!"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:00 AM on December 19, 2011


The disembodied head ones are kind of freaking me out.
posted by aught at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2011


This feels a bit like those folks who do complex paintings in MS Paint.

Okay, sure it's interesting that you used arcane and difficult means to reach an end that could much more easily and (to my simple brain) more pleasingly done in photoshop. Um, congratulations?
posted by Phreesh at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


In this case, part of the fun here is the author's claim that he created a real scene that looks like this, so we can try to figure out how on Earth he did it -- they're like little magic tricks or puzzles.

By that measure, I can create things in Photoshop, call them authentic unmanipulated photographs, and the effect is the same. But it doesn't read like that to me: in this case, and many others, it reads as "these photos are merely OK but because they were made with mirrors and wires, they are great!"

Also, it basically diminishes all talk about them to the methods.

For the record, I typed this entire post with my penis, and for that, this belongs on your favorites list and also in a museum.

posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Been a fan for awhile. My favorite: Love at the high place 1
posted by gwint at 1:31 PM on December 19, 2011


It is always refreshing to see modern artists relying on the Human mind and it's amazing that he achieved these results with just few tricks and manipulations but you can't deny that his art has a real human side into it which make it extremely relatable. Li Wei's art is very contemporary and it's definitely a mirror of modern society.
posted by AmyMh17 at 6:35 PM on December 19, 2011


The process wouldn't matter as long as we're conceding that we just want to look at art in relation to how the uncontextualized graphic effects us.
Which is totally OK, and how the majority of us perceive a majority of art! Especially in the Internet Age where we are bombarded with novelty and skill.

But that doesn't mean it's silly for people to delve in to the processes and conceptual framework of a body of work, and celebrate it more after that investigation.
posted by Theta States at 5:59 AM on December 20, 2011


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