Yichia Liao from UP Gallery speaks to PHOTOFAIRS | PHOTOFAIRS

Yichia Liao from UP Gallery speaks to PHOTOFAIRS

© Yichia Liao, Learn, 2013, Courtesy of UP Gallery (Taiwan)

PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai is pleased UP Gallery, Taiwan's first gallery that solely dedicates in exhibiting photographic works will be joining us for the fourth edition, opening its doors to visitors this September 8 - 10, 2017.

Yichia Liao practices photography and installation art and is a significant figure in the field of Taiwan's contemporary art photography. His artistic practice surrounds the relationship between time and the universe. Each series he extracts a certain element of the world and probes its relationship with time.


Hi Yichia, can you tell us what brought you to photography?
Time. I often wonder where "time" went, how it affects human beings and its relationship with my surroundings. The camera was the medium that was able to fully capture time and mechanically link itself with time. (To capture an image in various ways the photographer always understands the relationship between the shutter and aperture which is photography 101) I started to take photographs when I was around 14 and then I never stopped. My father had a camera and he too would photograph. It was very rare at that point in Taiwan to have a camera and I was extremely lucky to have the chance to encounter the medium through him. 

You mentioned your work often looks at the relationship between time and the universe, what is it about these elements that interests you?
As an artist who began with the photographic medium, I create works that encompass viewing my subjects through the medium itself. The camera or in a broader sense photography has a strong linkage with time therefore, I chose it as a starting point of my works. It seemed the best tool to portray time because itself surrounds time mechanically and theoretically. On the other hand, the universe in my understanding can range from the tiniest leaf that grows out of the cracks of the cement up to the space that is still unknown to us. Yet whatever the universe might be, the elements that compose it, it is affected by time. Memories, cultures and a form of a result are sculpted by time which can be found in most of my works. In short, time affects everything we perceive and its relationship with our surroundings is what I wish to show through my works. 

You tend to use digital manipulation in your works, is there a reason you started working in this style of photography?
I began with analogue photography and had my own darkroom, I loved it. But to me, personally, I think photography is fascinating because it is a medium that excels and progresses throughout time. The concept manipulation is nothing new and was used by many during the analogue period. Around 2009 I embraced digital photography completely because of the shift of my works. I found that it was impossible to fully portray my concepts through just a single image and started to use photography more freely and digital manipulation could consolidate my concepts better. Some might argue that I stray away from the essence of photography. But if one takes the time to truly see the works and understand the concept it is quite straightforward that my works surround the medium itself. Also, all the techniques that I learned through analogue photography are very evident in my works.  

What are you currently working on?
Currently, I'm working on a new series which I researched a specific planet's orbit and its relationship with the earth. I turned my focus to astronomy this time and as scientific as possible I seek to express a timeline of a hundred years. A hundred year's meanings for human beings and how it is for the universe. It's an ongoing project where I will be including installations with the photographic work.(which is a first for me)

What excites you about exhibiting in Shanghai?
The broad audience, as an artist, when your works get more exposure and find audiences that resonate with it, it makes everything worthwhile. The series "Summon Images" which the gallery I'm working with are bringing to Shanghai is a series that is very special to me. It is a series that I wish can be shown in different countries. I hope that I'll meet people who are interested in my memory documentary process and I can continue this body of work!  What excites me is that Shanghai is such a diverse city and I'll be able to have a chance to hear about memories/stories that are new to me and reflect them on the works.  

UP Gallery