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Nikki S. Lee’s artistic agency in senior’s project

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  1. Introduction
  2. Basic visual components
  3. Alan Sekula's arguement against the myth of universal photographic truth
  4. Nikki Lee's process behind the series of projects
  5. Typical image of Lee's Senior's project
  6. Views of the article [ti]The Directorial Mode[ti]
  7. The presence of the Hitchcock poster
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

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[10]. 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's artistic agency in senior's project Of all the photographs displayed in the Tang's viewing room, Nikki S. Lee's Senior's Project 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. [...]


[...] This also applies to Projects (13). Firstly, the viewer would not overlook this one as easily as he or she would some of her smaller pieces, since the enlarged size, of what seems to just be a simple snapshot, suggests that there is something more to it. Subsequently, the viewer is compelled to want to ascribe some kind of meaning to this piece because its size takes it from being a simple snapshot to a ?high level and, furthermore, allude to Lee's conceptual intentions. [...]


[...] In his article The Directorial Mode: Notes toward a Definition A.D. Coleman describes what he calls the directorial mode of photography. This mode of photography is not about manipulating the actual print, but what is in front of the camera. He poses that a piece is directorial if the artist has captured a situation that would not have taken place if he or she had not interfered, regardless if he or she has claimed to have captured a ?slice of life?[9]. [...]

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