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THE LENS: A PHOTO PANEL, William Yang, Yvette Hamilton, Dorcas Tang

Part of the Photography Falls Apart program Thursday, 16 November 2023, 6:00PM - 7:30PM (AEST), Nelson Meers Auditorium, Chau Chak Wing Museum. Co-presented by the Chau Chak Wing Museum, Photographic Cultures at the University of Sydney and the Power Institute.

A conversation with three artists and thinkers about the history and politics of photography's documentary function. WILLIAM YANG, YVETTE HAMILTON, DORCAS TANG

Lens with iris diaphragm, c. 1880–1950, manufacturer unknown, brass, glass. Transferred from the Department of Medicine, 1978.

The lens is old technology, one that has been used for millennia to focus, bend and abstract light. In the 19th century, however, the lens became bound to the apparatus of the camera, and its mission to document objective reality. The thickness of the lens—its function of transforming the reality it represents—disappeared from view.
The artists in this panel engage deeply with the photographic lens, bringing the history and politics of its documentary function back into focus. They use it to record worlds at the edges of the image mainstream, to tell stories, and to make visible that which might otherwise remain invisible. They return to the lens its thickness, and turn our attention to the camera's capacity to transform not just light, but the very way we see the world around us and its history.


WILLIAM YANG William Yang was born in North Queensland, Australia. He moved to Sydney in 1969 and worked as a freelance photographer documenting Sydney’s social life which included the glamorous, celebrity set and the hedonistic, sub-cultural, gay community.

In 2021 William had a major retrospective of his work, Seeing and Being Seen, at QAGOMA in Brisbane. It comprised 250 printed works, videos, and four of his films were shown in a cinema.

YVETTE HAMILTON Yvette Hamilton is an Australian artist and researcher of Mauritian descent who lives on Dharug and Gundungurra lands (Blue Mountains, NSW). She is a current practice-led PhD candidate in the School of Art History at The University of Sydney, and an Associate Lecturer in Photography in the School of Art and Design at the University of New South Wales. In her interdisciplinary practice she explores the evolution of photography and vision in the post-photographic era.

DORCAS TANG 邓佳颖 (she/they) is a Chinese-Malaysian photographer and artist. She is interested in the crucial intersections of photography, history, and archival silences. Her audiovisual projects include Los Paisanos del Puerto, examining the Chinese diaspora of Costa Rica; Love Me Long Time, exploring desire, intimacy, and Asian identity; and Staging Portraits which looks at queer kinship through facilitating community photo sessions at The Bearded Tit. Ultimately, she seeks to encourage critical dialogue through creating socially engaged visual narratives.

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