The Low Hum of a Drone

2018-02-03 - 2018-03-10



"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life." – Henry Cartier-Bresson

Constant and continuous exploration of aesthetics has allowed photographer Jay Yao to utilize different platforms and machinery to be able to obtain scenic shots acknowledging the onset of 21st century media. The concept was first realized in an immediate product of an abstract geographical shot, the artist often differentiates from the idea of a painting wherein the produce is gradually evolving. This immediacy of form allowed the artist to compare it to his experiences online, the instant communication, the faster capturing of images/stories, the rampant sharing of ideas overtly changing interpretation overtime, hence it becoming more candid, unrehearsed yet holding a multitude of meanings, abstracted as he would call it. This experience in the collective mind space affects the viewer inasmuch as in feelings of both anxiety or calmness and sympathy or apathy. The low hum of a drone is metaphorically a silent observer, a medium the artist chose to shoot an entirety of bodied scapes, which he likens to vast world of the internet. The artist’s eyes hover as the drone continuously speculates, picking up images he finds most profound.

The artist’s chasing of a story or a shot thereof was greatly inspired by Henry Cartier-Bresson, a candid photo essayist interested in capturing the beauty of uncontrived circumstances with real and straightforward emotions in a person’s daily life. Jay Yao was greatly influenced with this although utilizing the perplexing beauty of scapes that are represented herewith in geographical locations and how it takes a life of its own in varying periods. Captured in different seasons and terrains, Jay has ultimately searched the ground, in highs and lows shooting the rawness of vistas, cascading of waters and organic boundaries and composing it to the essentials. Additionally, he attributes his work to Nan Goldin, a contemporary photographer who believes that photography is way of touching somebody, a glimpse into one’s soul rather than a third-party onlooker that is completely detached from the subject. Oftentimes, Jay Yao’s scapes introduce a new mood with each varying state which the artist relies on to for an emotion he wants to illicit from the viewer, an intimate way of conversation and ultimately engagement.

The process, he admits to learning for the first time and becoming more confident each time with maneuvering his chosen device. Over time, he has developed several viewpoints taken on every body, a technique he used to read about on David Hockney’s "Joiners" wherein several elements of a photograph are shot in different perspectives and deconstructed to form one composite image. The artist eventually decides on the best angle to form the final set of his abstracted works, both the process and outcome in equal significance.

In varying shades of green, blue, brown and silver, the prints hold the illusion of a three-dimensional texture, almost as if you can touch it with each formal element’s differentiation. Each line and curve manifests a dimension of its own, with the artist’s rendering of a representational subject to a non-representational composition. The Sloth Glacier, a picture of a road terrain with a vehicle almost a miniature in size, captured into one whole image of an abstracted universe, a theme constantly repeated in most of his works, attracting viewers of its mystic appearance. The abstracted aerial views of the rooves in Manila are reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s Tableau with his use of rectangular shapes in shades of primaries albeit utilizing a different media. The earthen scapes is displayed in a transcendental view, an omniscient angle of the vistas and terrains, zooming out the minute details and generalizing the whole scape, much like in the internet’s onerous consciousness, an abstracted world of images and words.

The myriad of art references can only be traced back to the artist’s multiplicative approach to things, a truth he often attributes to himself. The intuition and impulse jolting from every part of his practice and taking a more bodied form in the latter stages of his works.

Jay Yao, the artist focuses on the idea of abstraction whilst valuing the process he has intended for himself. A multi-media artist at best, Jay is crossing the borders of traditional photography, adding another layer to his thought by incorporating a technological theme and successfully weaving it in a spiraling concept of abstraction. •

Notes by: Johanna Labitoria




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