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攝影與身份 Photography and Identity

2016/4/8 — 9:31

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【文:Anthony W. Lee】

攝影面世之初,其與社會身份的關係便得到注視,可以說與攝影機的發明一樣源遠流長。縱然發明家有其他想法,例如英國 William Henry Fox Talbot 曾提出攝影應輔助自然科學,或任何需要仔細觀察又需容易複製的研究,卻不應與人有關;然而,攝影用於描繪身份,在普羅大眾之間幾乎立即 落地生根,甚至成為它最歷久不衰的作用。早在 1839 年 12 月,即攝影技術剛剛在巴黎和倫敦發表後數月,插畫家 Théodore Maurisset 創作題為 La Daguerreotypomanie 的漫畫,諷刺大眾追捧相片的新熱潮。

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Théodore Maurisset,La Daguerreotypomanie (Daguerreotypomania), 1839 年 12 月,石版畫,The J. Paul Getty Museum, 由 Samuel J. Wagstaff, Jr. 饋贈。電子圖像來自 the Getty's Open Content Program。

Théodore Maurisset,La Daguerreotypomanie (Daguerreotypomania), 1839 年 12 月,石版畫,The J. Paul Getty Museum, 由 Samuel J. Wagstaff, Jr. 饋贈。電子圖像來自 the Getty's Open Content Program。

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在他的版畫中,人們為求買得相機,或得以在自己朝思暮想的風景前拍攝一張相片,不惜在人龍裡苦候,甚至堵塞街道、互相推撞、強行插隊、甚或衝入影樓。警察無法維持秩序;人像畫家深知大勢已去,在遠處上吊自盡。亂局以外,熱氣球上,是一位雄心勃勃的攝影師,正以手中最新的相機,拍攝腳下一幕騷亂景象。以攝影為中心的現代身份認同正在成形!

William Hurd,Ah Chong,1875 年,蛋白印相, 私人收藏。

William Hurd,Ah Chong,1875 年,蛋白印相, 私人收藏。

身份是建構而成的本質,在本年度 WYNG 大師攝影獎依舊貫徹。攝影師以嫻熟的手法,探索在今時今日全球化、相互連結、視覺為主的世界中,身份如何構成。部份攝影師承繼早期攝影師以鏡頭捕拍的野心,例如 Emmanuel Serna 捕捉當今移民工和難民的經驗,探討來自南亞地區的異鄉人。而夏志明以及梁志和 + 黃志恆則探索身份難以解構的一面,而後者關注我們在街上(以及在歷史)邂逅的無名個體。引起梁志和 + 黃志恆興趣的,是在瞬間的相遇中,我們的社會身份常常濃縮到最小的舉動—彎曲的頸項、弓起的背部、指向某處的手指、輕輕的點頭,以至是入時的衣著又或有趣的飾物。在這些攝影師的手中,相片讓人得以被看見,卻永遠無從捕捉個體的全部。李典宇的作品追尋家族的移居史,有他的經歷,亦有他母親的生命經驗。她的經歷通過故事口傳給他,有些人稱之為「後記憶」(Postmemories),縱然他不一定親身感受或經歷,但無損這些回憶對他自我認同的重要性。[2]事實上,她的回憶在他的腦海留下無法磨滅的記號,彷如他曾親歷其境。蕭偉恆的作品拍攝的並非人,而是偷渡往香港的人上岸的地方。這些地方寧靜的景觀,帶著歷史創傷的回響,而非法入境者的活動及官方加諸的約束也構成這些空間。現在我們知道,這樣的矛盾和衝突,在構成身份的過程絕非偶然,反而是不可或缺的成分。

正如早期攝影技術與民權在英法代議政治同步邁進,我們或者會問,香港現狀為何促使我們重燃對身份議題的興趣。其中一個答案由甄祖倫(作品「起義的構作」)提出,就是佔領運動。佔領運動是 2014 年反對北京提出的「香港行政長官選舉方法」的街頭抗爭。在甄祖倫的相片中,我們看見在公民抗命期間,曾經日夜阻隔街道和政府大廈入口的臨時路障,但此刻空無一人。照相機似乎詰問:你們這些站在斷裂的路軌和廢棄的圍欄旁的人,你們身在何處?你們是誰?用你的相機,告訴我。

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註:

1 鞋匠利用攝影的歷史,可見 Anthony W. Lee,
A Shoemaker's Story: Being Chiefly About French Canadian Immigrants, Enterprising Photographers, Rascal Yankees, and
Chinese Cobblers in a Nineteenth-Century Factory Town ,普林斯頓:普林斯頓大學出版社, 2008。

2 關於後記憶,請見 Marianne Hirsch,
Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory,劍橋:哈佛大學出版社,1997。

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The relationship between photography and social identity is as old as the invention of the camera — this, despite the fact that its earliest developers thought that their newfangled device was best suited for other purposes. For example, the Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot argued the camera
best functioned as an aid to the natural sciences or, indeed, for any pursuit requiring careful observation and easy reproduction, as long as it did not have anything to do with people. However, photography’s more expansive role in the depiction of identities — arguably, its more lasting role — almost immediately found fertile ground among commoners. Already in December 1839, mere months after photography's invention was announced in Paris and London, the illustrator Théodore Maurisset drew “La Daguerreotypomanie,”
a caricature about the new craze for pictures (fig. 1). In his lithograph, so many hordes of anonymous people line up to buy a camera or have their picture taken that the landscape is inundated by their frenzy. The people cause havoc, elbowing each other this way and that, clogging the environs, storming the front doors of the small photo studio, leaping from rafters to get a better place in line, hankering for photographs.
The police cannot keep order; portrait painters, realizing their careers are forever changed, hang themselves in the distance; and above the fray, in a hot-air balloon, an eager photographer, with a brand new camera in hand, takes
a picture of the unruly scene spread out below. Modern identities are in the making!

From our perspective, it's easy to see why the camera was embraced by so many people, who thought of it as a means of self-representation, despite what its inventors proclaimed. Previously, those who could afford to have images made of themselves were almost invariably of the upper-middle and ruling classes. They had the income and leisure to sit for the portrait painter. But suddenly, with the camera, the power of such imagery — of a personal and public cry of individuality and self-worth — came within reach of ordinary folk. Portraits and self-portraits seemed to match other political and social developments that gave voice to individuals, like the push for the universal right to vote or, in England and France at the time, the revolution for self-governance amidst traditions of monarchy.

Figure 1: Théodore Maurisset, La Daguerreotypomanie (Daguerreotypomania), December 1839, lithograph, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Gift of Samuel J. Wagstaff, Jr. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Of course, these portraits and self- portraits had their share of fiction. Consider a picture of a Chinese migrant worker, who in the 1870s had made his way across the Pacific Ocean
to California, taken a train across the American continent, and found temporary work as a shoemaker in a factory in Massachusetts (fig. 2). One would never guess his lowly status as a migrant factory worker in the photograph; we might instead be tempted to regard him as something else, a man of taste and leisure, for instance, accessorized in the latest dapper fashion and proud to hold the latest books in English. As the photograph tells us, “identity” was quickly recognized as something that could be manufactured in front of the camera as easily as it might be discovered by it.1

Figure 2: William Hurd, Ah Chong, 1875, albumen photograph, private collection.

The constructed nature of identities, as facilitated by photography, persists in the work of this year's WYNG Masters Award finalists. In very sophisticated ways, they explore how identities are made in today's globalized, interconnected, intensely visual world. In some cases, the ambitions that urged photography's earliest sitters
to take to the lens continue to inform these photographers' practices. These include capturing the experiences of today's migrant workers and refugees, as in Emmanuel Serna's project on the displaced settlers from the Indian subcontinent. In different ways, Remmus Ha and the team of Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong explore the indecipherability or, in the latter case, the anonymity of individuals as we encounter them on the streets (and in history); and they are attentive to how, in these fleeting encounters, our social identities are often boiled down to the smallest gesture—a crooked neck, an arched back, a pointing finger, a passing nod — or to a chic outfit or a revealing accessory. In these photographers' hands, pictures make visible but also cannot hope to capture the fullness of individuals. In Dinu

Li's work, the photographer traces his family's immigrant story, which includes not only his own life experiences but also those of his mother's. The fact that her experiences were passed
down to him as bedtime stories — as “postmemories,” as others have called it, and therefore not things he necessarily felt or remembered himself—do not make them any less important to his sense of self.2 In fact her memories mark him as indelibly as if they were his own. Or consider the work of Siu Wai Hang, who photographs not people but places, especially those sites in and around Hong Kong that served as points of entry for illegal immigrants. In these places, the quiet cityscapes and waterscapes carry echoes of traumatic historical meaning and are shaped by the activities of illegals and the constraints imposed by officials,
of individual desires and the order of law. Such conflicts, we now know, are not incidental to the making of modern identities but in fact deeply constitutive of them.

As in the case of the camera's early relationship to political developments for self-representation in England and France, we might ask what in Hong Kong's current situation has produced a renewed interest in identities of these sorts. One answer, proposed by Johnny Gin in his project on the Architecture of Insurgency, is the recent Occupy Movement, the 2014 street culture of protest that arose in response to the seemingly stage-managed election for Hong Kong's Chief Executive. In Gin’s pictures, we see the makeshift barricades that once clogged the streets and the entrances to government buildings during the long days and nights of civil disobedience. But they are now empty. Where are you, the camera seems to ask, you people who stood by these broken rails and littered fences? What kind of person are you? Tell me more about you. Use your camera to tell me.

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Remarks:

1 On these shoemakers and their use of photographs, see Anthony W. Lee,
A Shoemaker's Story: Being Chiefly About French Canadian Immigrants, Enterprising Photographers, Rascal Yankees, and Chinese Cobblers in a Nineteenth-Century Factory Town (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).

2 On postmemory, see Marianne Hirsch,

Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). 

(本文轉載自2016WYNG大師攝影獎作品展覽目錄。活動網頁按此。)

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