Picture Imperfect : Curated by Roberto Chabet and M.M. Yu
Curated by Roberto Chabet, co curated by MM yu. Opening reception on March 23, Saturday and runs til April 20, 2013 at mo_space. An exhibition presenting Catalina Africa, Poklong Anading, Yason banal, Ringo Bunoan, Roberto Chabet, Mariano Ching, Kiri Dalena, Jed Escueta, Nona Garcia, Katya Guerrero, Nilo Ilarde, Sam Kiyoumarsi, Cocoy Lumbao, At Macalungan, Lani Maestro, Jet Melencio, Paul Mondok, Mawen Ong, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Soler Santos, Yasmin Sison, Gerardo Tan, The Weather Bureau, and MM Yu
Picture Imperfect. written by Cocoy lumbao
Forgive me for such heavy rumination but your presence has turned my otherwise drab condition into a singular, aesthetic, if not entirely philosophical event worthy of my attention, in the same way I can only assume you have given yours to this particular moment. What particular aspect of my existence have you found to be worth your trouble to risk what others might accuse you of becoming redundant? Wasn’t it always enough to know that an apple had fallen by having heard its thud even though no one has seen it? Should my being into this world rest on your desire to usher me within the corners of a frame, before I can be truly counted?
Has it ever occurred to you that in any event that I stand, sit, or am scattered in a position that you can only comprehend as fortuitously formed or has been tactfully arranged, it is you whom I have always tried to picture? It is your movement which I have always tried to inconsolably capture. From the forebears of your humdrum equipment you have grown the ability to take pleasure in the instantaneous reproduction of my image, encoded in a system no longer dense that it can penetrate the very air in which you breathe, and passed on like a germ, shared like a dialect, transported within a matter of seconds. I cannot help but think that through your hands I have evolved from mere depiction into a proclamation that you can send. You are my messenger now as you have once been my witness.
And while I did start aimlessly as a substance of this world, given shape through my creator’s hands, I have seen how you have exceeded his design, and how you have gone as far as to construct, re-fashion, or obliterate me for the sole purpose of existing within your frame. I have seen your struggles in validating yourself from the same stigma that hounded your pioneers who were reduced to the cold mechanism of the apparatus which merely captures, knowing it could never possibly create. In the same light I have seen how you were celebrated for it, like a stern judge who knows only truth, and yet again scorned, in finding out that what you held in your hand was the tool for lies.
I have heard other people say about other objects who do not share my predicament now as being ‘picture perfect.’ It is, paradoxically, a phrase uttered whenever you and I are absent. It is the unusual formation of clouds, the silhouette of a sailboat against a sparkling lake, the child who has wrapped a gentle pet in embrace, when no finger is set to pull the trigger, all may never exist through Polariod prints or reproduction plates except in their actualities, framed only by the viewfinder in our minds, the shutter snaps through the sound of our thoughts—picture perfect.
But what really disturbs me is how it implies that our partnership is only meant for such a state. I, who can no longer understand how to behave in front of you and who is always apprehensive from what kind of treatment I shall get: underexposed, burnt, scanned, scratched, undressed, or concealed, I understand how technology has given you more agents to utilize as messages. And I understand how much time has changed that even the eye that commands the trigger is found looking at the same lens. And as the moment draws near where your finger pulls the trigger, I increasingly feel that I have nothing more to recommend.
I am hard-pressed to say that the only thing that is real for me right now is the product that will come at the other end of this procedure, the image, which is neither you nor this condition that we’re in. It is I who is frozen in time, contrary to what you might have heard critics say about you. It is I, who is being stopped dead on her tracks. I, who’s even reluctant to call you as my subject, I, who believe that you are instead a component within an expression I am trying to make. And although I can never proclaim you as my own creation, it is the story that can be found within you which I am trying to create. The story found in your face, in your appearance, in your arrangement against the story of your foreground or background, as well as the story to be found within what will be the attitude of my viewers toward you. Most of the time, I have totally abandoned the notion of what is photographic and what is non-photographic. And you were right on how technology has changed my view about these things. If it is a picture of an existing picture, then so be it. If it is a loaf of bread I should scan instead of photographing, then so be it. If it is a sentence playing in my head to print, then so be it. In essence I have tried to capture them in the way I have tried to capture an accidental scene or a new species, un-recognizable, which I am only hoping I can comprehend only after I have placed them neatly inside the frame.
And although it is true, that mine will always be second-rate depictions of your actuality in this world, I will never rest from arranging and casting the objects around you, from building you from scratch if necessary just to pacify the desire to see an image that has long been lodged in my head. And that image, incidentally, has been perceived as a photograph and nothing else, the way I have dreamt about dreaming, which how during that moment it is the only way it can make sense; because without the brushstrokes evident in paintings, taking pictures have become an act in itself worth exploring. And by taking into account that the act itself serves as the defining state of photography nowadays, I was able to finally put to rest all my apprehension about being a mere recorder.
I did ask you to be still, to stay where you are. To look into the lens of the apparatus which I have so carefully and endlessly been begging to see what my mind sees, but beyond my deepest wishes I know it can never be exact. People who have studied this phenomenon argue that a photograph testifies to time’s relentless melt.** Instead of showing immortality it exposes a subject’s vulnerability and mutability. This makes me question my own timelessness against yours, as I become fully aware as to how I can easily be in your place instead. Knowing this, I apologize in advance if I can never do justice for what you are originally meant for this world. But if it’s any consolation, the only thing I can promise you is that people will start to look at you in a different way, never again from what you were once meant to. Yet still, on the contrary people might look and say, “It is just a picture, that’s all.” But for now the stage has been set, the moment in my mind is as clear as day, perfect. Click.
*Written account of a correspondence between two participants that took place within 1/30th of a second in a work entitled ‘Self-Portrait with Vertically-oriented Camera Phone.’
**Susan Sontag, On Photogr by Roberto Chabet, co curated by MM yu. Opening reception on March 23, Saturday and runs til April 20, 2013 at mo_space. An exhibition presenting Catalina Africa, Poklong Anading, Yason banal, Ringo Bunoan, Roberto Chabet, Mariano Ching, Kiri Dalena, Jed Escueta, Nona Garcia, Katya Guerrero, Nilo Ilarde, Sam Kiyoumarsi, Cocoy Lumbao, At Macalungan, Lani Maestro, Jet Melencio, Paul Mondok, Mawen Ong, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Soler Santos, Yasmin Sison, Gerardo Tan, The Weather Bureau, and MM Yu