Of all the photographs displayed in the Tang's viewing room, Nikki S. Lee's Senior's Project (13) was definitely one that I initially overlooked while surveying the set of original photographs the Tang owns. At first glance, the photograph did not seem very compelling, particularly in terms of composition. After learning about Lee's artistic process and intent, however, her photograph transformed into one of the most intriguing pieces of the bunch. The lack of strong formalist elements and the striking similarity to amateur snapshot photography suggest that Lee is much more interested in conveying a concept, rather than creating a compositionally impressive piece.
Furthermore, while Senior's Project (13) is a photograph that is in many ways consistent with others in her series Projects—in that it explores issues of identity and self-fashioning—it has certain peculiarities—regarding its size and reference to film director Alfred Hitchcock—that allude to her artistic intentions and processes, thus highlighting her agency as an artist.Some basic visual components of this photograph include the orange date stamp on the bottom right-hand corner, the centering of the subjects, the lack of cropping and proper alignment of verticals and horizontals, the darkness of the background, the brightness of the foreground and the prominent poster of Alfred Hitchcock holding. The composition of this photograph is fairly basic, rather unexciting and seemingly unprofessional. The top of the Hitchcock poster is very noticeably unparallel to the horizontals of the actual photograph.
The image is not perfectly centered, as the sections of dark background on both sides are of unequal width. Because the formal elements of this piece seem rather unimportant to the artist, the viewer is led to wonder: what makes this photograph so unique? What kind of message is the artist trying to convey? The viewer, thus, feels the need to know more about the piece's context and artistic intent in order to derive meaning.
[...] These subtle references to her artistic process through the peculiarities in Senior's Project emphasize that Nikki Lee is very much in control of her artistic process, regardless of whether or not she is the one who takes the picture. Bibliography Coleman, A.D. Directorial Mode: Notes Towards Definition” Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present (1976): 480-491. Corliss, Mary. “Alfred Hitchcock: Behind the Silhouette.” MoMA (1999): 12- 14. Dalton, Jennifer, Nikki S. Lee, Anthony Goicolea, Davin Henry Brown, Jr. “Look at Me: Self- Portrait Photography after Cindy Sherman.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance Art (2000):47-49. Ferguson, Russel. Nikki S. Lee: Projects. [...]
[...] Regardless of whether or not the viewer is familiar with Lee's work, he or she will be drawn to this attention-grabbing image of Hitchcock and will feel compelled to start assigning possible meanings to it and wonder why it is there. Like Lee, Hitchcock is an artist who had complete control over his artistic process. He was known for being very meticulous in crafting the composition of the shots and supervised almost all steps in pre-production, production and post-production. The films that this cinematic genius directed are very artistic in that they include interesting stylistic and formal elements. The presence of the Hitchcock poster, furthermore, celebrates film as an art form and highlights the theatrical aspect of Lee's work. [...]
[...] Lee.” Russel Ferguson, Nikki S. Lee: Projects (Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2001) A.D. Coleman, Directorial Mode: Notes Towards Definition,” Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present (1976): 480-491. Mary Corliss, “Alfred Hitchcock: Behind the Silhouette,” MoMA (1999): 12-14. Parkinson, David, “Hitchcock's Cameos Make Him a Wallflower Compared to Today's Directors,” Guardian, (2009), http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/jan/20/notorious-hitchcock- cameo. Ferguson, Nikki S. [...]
[...] Lee Facebook picture: Beli and Bryan Suzanne and Phillipe on the Train, Long Island by Nan Goldin Alan Sekula, the Invention of Photographic Meaning,” Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1973-1983 (1984): 1-21. Sekula, the Invention of Photographic Meaning,” 3 Nikki S Lee, Girl Stays in the Picture: My Life from the Inside KoreAmJournal (2007), http://www.koreamjournal.com/Magazine/index.php/kj/2007/march/cover_story/th e_girl _stays_in_the_picture. Jennifer Dalton, Nikki S. Lee, Anthony Goicolea, Davin Henry Brown, Jr., “Look at Me: Self-Portrait Photography after Cindy Sherman,” PAJ: A Journal of Performance Art (2000): 47-49. Dalton, “Look at 49. Kendra Greene, “Nikki S. Lee.” Museum of Contemporary Photography, http://www.mocp.org/collections/permanent/lee_nikki_s.php. Greene, “Nikki S. [...]
[...] While these photographs and artists have some similarities, they differ greatly in their intentions. Goldin presents a subculture that she was a part of, thus having a more personal connection to her work and subjects, whereas Lee examines sociological dynamics and concepts like personality and identity. It is undoubtedly necessary to view Lee's Senior's Project knowing about the context in order to appreciate its full meaning and implications. Lee herself said that her pieces cannot be understood in isolation of one another because they are all related and contribute to the meaning of the series as a whole as well as value to the individual images. [...]
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