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World of One Archives | Johnny Tang Photo
Death of Narcissus

World of One: Death of Narcissus

Death of Narcissus is a homage to Hippolyte Bayard’s Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man, one of my favorite early photographs (and one of the world’s first selfies!). While the technical setup for this image has been floating around in my head for years. It wasn’t until I saw this Vox video reminding me of Bayard’s picture, that the inspiration for the narrative came to me. Hippolyte Bayard is a pioneer and inventor of photography in who lived in 19th century France. But he was was overlooked by the French Academy of Sciences in favor of his rival Louis Daguerre, who …

Johnny Tang addressing the crowd at the opening for his show at Pearl River Mart, March 23, 2019.

Show Report: World of One @ Pearl River Mart

I’ve been a bad artist. My show came down at the beginning of May, but I am just posting this show report now. I’ve been procrastinating despite it perhaps being my greatest achievement. Because in order to tell the story of this exhibition, I have to talk about what it was like to prepare for it. Four weeks before the show was set to open, right around the time I should be kicking off preparations – my grandfather died. I flew to Taiwan two days after receiving the news, and stayed for a week to attend his funeral and see …

World of One OPENING RECEPTION

Announcing the opening of World of One my first solo show at Pearl River Mart in New York, NY’s Tribeca neighborhood!!! The show will be running from March 23 – May 5, with the opening reception on March 23, 2019 from 5-7PM. Come out and play!!! World of One is a surreal and cinematic exploration of how identity is developed through self-portraiture. By juxtaposing opposing actions within the same frame, Tang welcomes us to question our thoughts, actions and emotions that truly define us. Is it our habits, the things we do subconsciously? Or is it our spectacular one offs, …

A group of Asian men in white walking under a bridge, towards an Asian man in a black suit.

World of One: Tao

Tao 2018GicléeImage size (HxW): 24” x 46 5/16” | Paper Size (HxW): 30″ x 52 5/16″ | Edn 5 Tao in Chinese (or sometimes spelled Dao) is a word often used to “asian-ify” things. In the west, the word connotes images of oriental themed nightclubs, or chinese takeouts and sake bombs. But in Chinese it simply means “the way.” The way it’s used however, I think it should be translated to “the way things should be.” I’ve been going through a number of personal changes in my life, and these last three months have been filled with new experiences. These …

Feeling Numb - A shirtless man standing in a snow storm surrounded by a group of men in black freezing their asses off.

World of One: Feeling Numb

Feeling Numb 2018 Giclée Image size (HxW): 24” x 49 1/8” | Paper Size (HxW): 30” x 49 1/8” | Edn 5 I shot Feeling Numb on a suggestion from my old friend Lisa Diep. “I want one side that’s feeling! And the other side, that’s numbness!!!” She told me. Lisa’s and I have known each other since high school, so she occasionally likes to pretend she’s my art director. At first I thought this was another throw away idea. But the more I thought about it, the more appealing it seemed to me. The problem I told her, wasn’t …

Chasing Magritte - A man in white tossing a bowler hat into the air, a group of men in black jumping to grab the hat

World of One: Chasing Magritte

Chasing Magritte 2018 Giclée Image size (HxW): 24″ x 47 5/8” | Paper Size (HxW): 30” x 53 5/8” | Edn 5 Chasing Magritte is about wanting to emulate your heroes, as well as my homage to the turn of the century Surrealist painter Rene Magritte. It’s probably no secret by now, but in case you didn’t know, that I’m a huge Magritte fan. Dali might be the poster boy for Surrealism, but there’s something about Magritte’s work that I’ve always been more drawn to. I don’t know if it’s his wit, or just because he’s more subtle. But there’s …

the Offering - a man in white seated at a park bench with an out stretched hand, a crowd of men in black walking by him refusing his hand.

World of One: the Offering

the Offering 2018 Giclée Image size (HxW): 24” x 41 9/16” | Paper Size (HxW): 30” x 47 9/16” | Edn 5 The Offering is inspired and titled after a 2013 piece, by the Taiwanese American artist James Jean. Jean is one of the few Taiwanese American artists, visibly successful, working in the fine arts today. So he’s basically like my art hero, and his work just blows me away. I’ve often taken inspiration from his style of composition, use of color, and also the otherworldly themes present in his work. TheOffering is my homage to the man and his …

Asian man in black standing on a stump in the middle of a pond, men in white reflected within the pond looking at him.

World of One: Narcissus II

Narcissus II 2017 Giclée Image size (HxW): 24″ x 48 1/8” | Paper Size (HxW): 30″ x 54 1/8” | Edition of 5 I’ve just completed a beautiful new addition to my World of One series, welcome to the world Narcissus II!!! The picture in my Beautiful Failures post and Narcissus II were shot on the same day. In fact, Narcissus II is much closer to the shot that I had originally planned for the day, and was actually shot first!!! But it was while we were shooting this angle, that I realized the Beautiful Failures angle would be more …

guy in a dark suit standing on a stump in the middle of a big puddle.

Beautiful Failures

This picture is a little painful for me to look at. It is just so close to being a fantastic new iteration in my WO1 series but it’s not. Instead I’m adding it to my pile of beautiful failures, images that almost succeed but stop just short of the finish line. I’ve been trying to do more WO1 images involving reflections (similar to what I did for Narcissus back in the day), and in particular, I’ve been trying to do a version of Narcissus that uses the reflections from puddles. So far however, I haven’t been lucky enough with things …

An Asian man in a dark suit looking back into the camera while walking down a street. A group of the Asian man in white, walking the other way in the reflection.

Why I Make the Art I Do, and the Origins of the W.O.1

Reflection 2012 I’m part of a trend of young photographers such as: Brook Shaden, Erik Johansson and Casane, using photoshop to create surreal images. If I had to give myself a label, I’d call myself a “Neo-Photo Surrealist.” Because while I’m creating images in the tradition of the Surrealists photographers such as: Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Lee Miller and more recently Sandy Skoglund. I differ in my choice of tools, namely in my use of Photoshop. I strive to make work that strikes a delicate balance between beauty and heady. But I wasn’t always this way. To explain why, let …