South Street Seaport Museum, New York / March 2012

A juxtaposition of city panoramas by photographers Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao and Sylvia Plachy

Curated by Elisabeth Biondi

Their panoramas could not be more diverse, their approach not more different. Jeff Liao’s work has its roots in documentary photography. He captures the visual essence of a location by photographing it over a period of time and then joins the individual pieces together digitally. This gives him the freedom to create visually coherent images of places in a specific yet sweeping representation. Like a painter, he builds his surfaces in layers and thereby succeeds in stretching our perception of reality.

Sylvia Plachy seeks and finds her images wherever she goes. She captures fleeting moments in time with her roaming eye. She says the panoramic frame intensifies her perceptions. It allows her to get close to her subjects, to be inside their space, and to be surrounded by it — unorthodox, whimsical, and close. One senses that she does not simply compose her photographs so much as she inhabits them. They read like private pictographs — lyrical memories of what, and how, she saw. Panoramas tend to present a neutral, distanced view. Both Jeff Liao’s and Sylvia Plachy’s photographs present the opposite. They are richly perceived and personal panoramic visions of their city.


Below left: 69th Street, Woodside, Queens– Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao, 2004

Below right: Sunday Afternoon in the Bronx – Sylvia Plachy, 1989