Taiwan photographer depicts NYC on grand scale

Updated: 2014-10-15 06:46

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York(China Daily USA)

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Taiwan photographer depicts NYC on grand scale

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao's exhibit Assembled Realities opens on Wednesday at the Museum of the City of New York and includes this photograph of the scene around the 72nd Street subway station in Manhattan in 2012. Provided to China Daily

Photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao has spent the past decade taking images of life in his adopted city of New York and expanding them into a unique collection. Assembled Realities, an exhibit of 40 of Liao's large-scale photos opens Wednesday at the Museum of the City of New York.

Liao is a native of Taiwan who came to New York at 22 to pursue his passion for photography. He creates large-scale panoramas by combining multiple exposures of the same location taken over the course of several hours, resulting in complex views that push the boundaries of traditional documentary photography. He utilizes digital technologies to transform all the photographs (anywhere from 14 to 2,000 frames) into a single image.

"My goal in using this process is to break away from the traditional photograph that shows one moment," he told China Daily. "This process allows me the freedom to select a moment that is made up of many moments to capture a view. When you walk down a street in New York you see more than just one thing or person. I can put in as many moments as I want."

Assembled Realities is a collection of Liao's work over the last 10 years that document life and events in New York's five boroughs, including the old Shea Stadium, the 72nd Street subway station in Manhattan and the Grand Concourse to Coney Island. "What I try to do is to make the image real in the eye of the viewer," he said.

Liao completed his high school education in Vancouver, Canada. Then he came to New York and obtained a bachelor's degree from the Pratt Institute and later a master of fine arts. His master's thesis that showed the Queens communities along the No 7 subway line from Flushing to Times Square eventually became a winner of a New York Times photo contest.

"Jeff Liao's personal take on New York City's five boroughs is more than a retrospective of a photographer's work. With his mixed interest in architecture and human interaction, it is a visual documentation of the city's immense energy and diversity on any given day," Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel director of the Museum of the City of New York, said in a statement.

New York is among the most photographed cities in the world. Yet Liao believes his work can still inspire some first-time thoughts and reflections.

"I know New York has been photographed by some of the most famous photographers in the world. So I try to bring something new and I think this process (composite photographs) helps me to deliver that to the viewer.

"Without a doubt my most favorite part of the city has been and remains Times Square," he continued. "It is always changing so I am always fascinated by the people in the area."

Liao's next project is taking him to Asia where he hopes to shoot photographs on nightlife in cities including Shanghai and Qingdao in China.