Using homegrown bacteria, photographer Seung-Hwan Oh warps and manipulates his photographs, surrendering his art to a higher ecological order. Oh, who also goes by the name Tonio Oh, explains that his intention is to “explore the impermanence of matter as well as the material limitations of photography.” It brings the artist’s studio into the laboratory, marvelously blending the organic and the artificial.
Oh’s website describes the process:
“As the microbes consume light-sensitive chemical over the course of months or years, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale.”
It’s an interesting approach to photography that takes a normally still medium and adds a dimension of something active, live, and dynamic. When you view Oh’s photographs, the question is no longer the significance of what is depicted; instead, what catches your eye is the tension between what is shown and what is already lost. Though art is naturally created to be consumed, in this case, the art itself is the act of consumption, the parts of the photographs that have been literally eaten away by a relentless force of nature. The result, in Oh’s word, can be witnessed as something that is “entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral”.