Edition 2023


Tan Chui Mui

Just because you pressed the shutter?

In the historical Abbaye de Montmajour, Tan Chui Mui, Malaysian filmmaker of Chinese descent, expands on the notion of image and artwork: “The photograph captures the scene, but the scene was always there. You didn’t build the camera. Why should the photograph belong to you? Because you composed the shot? Just because you pressed the shutter?”

For this exhibition, the artist produces new work generated by artificial intelligence (AI), mirroring her reflections on copyright, property, and image making. The Kinmen series (2022) presents her imagination of the land of her ancestor’s, Kinmen Island, in Taiwan. The Arles series (2023) represents the historic town in an unusual light. The Tower, designed by famous architect Frank Gehry, and the Arles Amphitheatre, a UNESCO world heritage site, are humorously placed into algorithmically generated images. 
The images recall those of Japanese tourists from the 1980s who, taking advantage of their country’s economic growth to travel in Europe and North America, captured myriad photographs of Western architecture on home cameras. In Tan's conceptual works, however, the Japanese have been replaced by Chinese tourists, and the era has switched to the 2000s.

The artist’s latest work, The Emotion Machine, is a nine-hour-long video referencing American scientist and AI pioneer Marvin Minsky’s eponymous book. The snippets of daily life illustrate the artist's typical day, and one can see the artist riding a scooter in the alleys of Kuala Lumpur or practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. These images are no longer Cartier-Bresson-esque decisive moments but portray contemporary life in all its details.
To best appreciate Tan Chui Mui’s work, we must return to her initial question: in a time when images are easily generated by AI, what is our connection to the image?

Wang Yiquan

Curator : Wang Yiquan.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture