The Poetics of Science by Sheung Yiu
‘The Poetics of Science’ is a photography research project that investigates the visual culture surrounding scientific imagery. Since its inception, photography has been inextricably intertwined with science. While photographs in the early days stood as an ‘accurate’ replication of reality, they have become increasingly more artificial, figurative and abstract. Experimenting with the interplay among photography, graphic design and text, the project explores how meaning is embedded and extracted from photography. Using scientific imagery as an entry point, the project explores the intrinsic ambiguity of photographs, unveiling the tension between photographic intention and visual representation – what is intended to be communicated, what is being communicated and what is understood. As such, the project alludes to an allegory for the limit of photographic communication. The final product of this project will be a photobook and a photo exhibition. For the past two years, I studied imagery in science textbooks in Hong Kong and Taiwan and simultaneously began an ongoing photography series on the subject. Looking at the productions and applications of these imageries as well as conducting interviews with quantum physicist Tjonnie Li, I am able to gain a profound understanding of how they create meaning and propagate scientific knowledge. On top of that, how photography, graphic design and text are weaved together to shape our understanding (or misunderstanding) of our world. I am working with a literature writer and a science writer to create a photo book. The photos will be accompanied by an essay written by each writer, interpreted from a fictional and scientific point of view respectively. In this way, the photo book explores the fluidity of meaning and ambiguity of photography.