Lomography in Contemporary Taiwan: Self and Culture of Authenticity
LOMO photography, or lomography, first gained prominence in 1991 in Austria. LOMO’s user friendliness, remarkable colors, and unpredictable photographic effects, made it a standout on the camera market. In Taiwan, LOMO slowly entered into the public consciousness around 2005 when the eye-catching photography started cropping up in music videos, fashion advertisements, MOOKs, and numerous magazines. The trend first caught on with the underground and shortly thereafter infiltrated the mainstream. LOMO became something of a cultural code and, eventually, a part of Taiwanese pop culture at large.
Prior research in Taiwan looks at the branding and production side of LOMO cameras/lomography, focusing on how LOMO is received by photographers from a code producer perspective without considering the nature of Taiwan lomography itself. This study thus aims to analyze localized lomography in Taiwan through textual analysis and in-depth interviews of LOMO users.
Lomography in Taiwan is characterized by softer colors and understated, inward-looking modes of self-expression; subject matter themes include travel, retrospection of youth and childhood, and daily life. Picture annotations tend to be poetic and narrative in nature, emphasizing the photographer’s personal existence through experience and subjective viewpoints.
Further, when taking pictures, lomographers construct a concept of their ideal selves, one that is based on an “existential authenticity” as justified by perceived “I am what I experienced as who I am”. Given this context, Lomographers become uncertain of their social status and thus introspect on their daily lives, and engage in internal dialogue. In so doing they gain a sense of freedom, realness, and “belonging” that cannot be found in broader society.
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