Chen Man makes perfect images. So perfect in fact, that her subjects complain that they can’t match up in reality.
As classicists insist on drawing a line between photography and digital art, Chinese photographer Chen Man defiantly blurs the boundaries. Actress Zhou Xun really did complain that Chen’s portrayal of her was too flawless to live up to, and she wasn’t the first. But Chen is unconcerned with depicting reality. Through post-production and Photoshop manipulation, she transforms her subjects into hyper-real women; futuristic cyborgs of Asian beauty, representing the computerised sensibility of China’s accelerated art scene. “My generation is really into computer reality” says Chen, “a reality that we can control and perfect in the way we choose”.
Born in 1980 in rural Mongolia in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, Chen studied at the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 2005 and scoring her first editorial work for Vision magazine, the leading arts publication at the time. Her new limited edition book, Chen Man Works: 2003-2010 maps Chen’s career from campaigns for Nike and Adidas, to editorial for Chinese Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. Citing Nick Knight as one of her strongest influences, Chen’s work bears notable similarity to that of the great British photographer, calling to mind Knight’s saturated ‘Plates’ series and his iconic image of Devon Aoki. By capturing that digital advancement in photography, an area occupied only by the best, Chen has established herself firmly as a photographer of the 21st, or even 22nd century.
2000 limited edition, numbered copies of Chen Man: Works 2003-2010 by 3030 Press are available at 3030press.com