The JPEG is the most commonly used method of image compression in digital photography. Digital cameras capture images in this format and save them onto a tiny memory card that then can be transferred to computers, tablets, and smart phones. From these devices the captured images can be instantly sent to 1000’s, even millions, of people on blogs and posts on social media on the Internet, or as text messages and emails. With the click of a button on a camera to the click of a button on a computer or phone any kind of private image can made public and seen around the world immediately, if anyone cares to take a look at it. The massive overload of anonymous images filling the Internet has numbed our senses and yet we have become addicted to them at the same time.
Bu Yunjun explores our relationship to these found images and reexamines their cultural merits. Bu states, “Because the flood of images produced come and go at such a rapid pace, they have become useless and are considered to be nothing but mere trash. But I insist that all of these trash images have value.” “How we evaluate a picture depends on how we re-recognize it.” Bu sees much further into these images than just the sheer titillation or irritation they bring us in our day to day lives. Through Bu’s act of gathering of 100’s of “trash images” he began to see a different and unexpected picture; their relationships to historical painting. “Classical oil painting and the contemporary “trash image” both have a type of majesty within their own individual eras.” They both speak of their times with great eloquence and clarity. Through Bu’s search he began to sense that he was not looking at anonymous images any longer but very familiar ones.
In his exhibition, JPG, Bu uses selected found photos, including some of his own ‘failed’ pictures that would have normally been relegated to the trash bin. The images have been printed on different types of papers and sizes ranging from high to low quality. Some are painted on or altered with colored tape, or partially affixed to the wall allowing the edges to curl, draped across furniture, or lying on the floor. Bu has reclaimed and redeemed these lost images and given them new identities of value and a part of our contemporary culture with links to a historical past.
_____ James Elaine