Photography’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Hailed for its ability to render objectively the world around us the veracity of its results is often open to question. With the recent publication of the three or PhotoShopped four Iranian missiles being the latest in a history of “doctored” photographs that stretches back to the Crimean war. Added to this obvious trickery is the subjective view of the photographer which invariably suggests that, like beauty, truth may well be in the eye of the beholder.
Putting a tentative toe into these somewhat troubled waters is the latest exhibition at the Silverlens Gallery. Where American/Filipino photographer Noelle Katigbak Tan has 31 photographs on display, 18 predominantly white, 13 predominantly black. Made over the five year period of 2001 to 2005, these works explore the subjective nature of the photographer/photograph relationship.
In her untitled black series of photographs Tan exposes hints, with varying degrees of clarity, as to her subject matter with its final resolution being left to her audience. White hot spots, in stark contrast to the surrounding black, attract the eye, although it soon discovers that the underexposed is not devoid of information. Its exact definition is left to the viewers’ imagination.
Tan’s white series of photographs have been made to look like pencil drawings. Deliberately overexposed the information in these photographs is minimal in both detail and scale. Suggestions are offered but the final analysis is left to the eagle eye capabilities of the beholder.
In both series of photographs Tan implores her audience to look into the image. And whilst embracing the fundamentals of the minimal art movement, her addiction to the portrayal of the object overrides the implied aesthetic. She does, however, shift the responsibility of the validation of intent from the photographer to the viewer. Her glimpses of reality, indistinct as they are, underscore the subjectivity of the static presentation of the moment.
Noelle Katigbak Tan’s photographs are on show at Silverlens Gallery, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City until the 27 September. More information can be found at www.silverlensphoto.com.