99 Reactions to Your Piteous Selfie in Youngho Kang’s Photo Project

The dancing photographer Youngho Kang has photographed dozens of versions of himself. His aim is 99 self portraits.

Youngho Kang
age 45Youngho Kang,
Famous South Korean commercial photographer, winner of two gold Cannes Lions (2012), Lens Culture Portrait Awards 2014 finalist, International Photo Awards 2014 bronze prize winner. “99 Variations” is Kang’s first art project.

The Idea

After more than ten years of a successful career as a commercial photographer I decided to take up art photography. But before doing it, I had to find out for myself what art photography is and what art is, generally speaking. Today I am convinced that fine art is a passion for what I and only I can realize. That is the reason and the consequence of why I am known as a dancing photographer. I need loud music. I need a lot of noise. My movements and my poses make me look like a crazy orchestra conductor. My quest for self-expression has taken me from behind my camera and put me in front of it to make a complete study of myself. That was the beginning of “99 Variations” project.

99 because I an not perfect, I am not a 100 percent. Every photograph is an incomplete portrait because it is only an image. My aim is 99 self portraits. I have done around 60, that’s how many versions of myself I have discovered so far.

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_17.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 17”, “text”: “The child who always stays at home” }

The Process

The names of the portraits are my interpretations of predictions from The Book of Changes. Borrowing one symbol from each chapter, I interpreted it to my own way, guided rather by the sound and poetic properties of the phrase than by its meaning. The pictures, their titles and I interact in our own way. It is not a logical but a symbolic connection. Depending on the way the viewer perceives this connection, he creates his own unique thread of symbols, his own variation.

The shoot takes place in a state of tuned consciousness: when the theme of the future picture is decided on, I select music, the whole team listens to it, and on the next day we all come together and assemble what our minds have created while we were in a rhythm of one and the same melody.

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_16.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 16”, “text”: “The verdict prohibiting pride” },
{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_18.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 18”, “text”: “The fox with a wet tail” }

The Symbols

The camera in the pictures can be a symbol but it also can be just a camera. Creation of a full-fledged self portrait using a mirror is inevitable without the camera in the image. Thus the camera becomes an element inside the frame, and for me acts like an endoscope. Many critics have repeatedly told me that the camera destroys the harmony of the image, but I disagree: in everyday life my camera captures the world without me. But in “99 Variations” the camera is inside the two worlds at the same time so what it captures is an image of what is both inside and outside.

The inspiration comes from all those me’s that are still dormant inside of me, but those that are already awake engender the images. I am not a professional dancer, I am not familiar with all the peculiarities of a model’s work, I may be lacking background knowledge in photography, but energy is something that cannot be learnt, it can only be transformed. And the way I am transforming my energy in self portraits – the same way anyone can transform their energy into creativity.

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_01.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 1”, “text”: “Peaceful war” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_02.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 2”, “text”: “The bird that the fisherman caught is haughty” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_03.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 3”, “text”: “The prison that does not regret” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_04.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 4”, “text”: “The dog that knows time” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_05.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 5”, “text”: “The kind who grows the chin” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_06.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 6”, “text”: “Courageous betrayal” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_07.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 7”, “text”: “Clumsy justice” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_08.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 8”, “text”: “The woman without bones shoots the arrow while hidden” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_09.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 9”, “text”: “The fox with the wet tail” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_10.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 10”, “text”: “Encountering a skinny pig in front of the big river” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_11.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 11”, “text”: “A skinny pig” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_12.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 12”, “text”: “The tree that trusts nobody” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_13.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 13”, “text”: “A deep river that runs behind the back” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_14.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 14”, “text”: “Overly strict head of the household” }

{ “img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/kang_15.jpg”,
“alt”: “Young Ho Kang 15”, “text”: “Wakeful dreams” }

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