Arts + Design

Photos of the invisible man

May 15, 2013 /

Liu Bolin’s images invite a game akin to Where’s Waldo?. In some of the Chinese artist’s incredible photos, it’s clear where he is standing; in others, like the one above, it’s much harder to spot the outline of his body at all. It’s for this that Bolin has been called “The Invisible Man.”

In his talk from TED2013, Bolin shares the meaning behind these images — that they are a way to examine the relationship between culture and its development, and to speak for those who are rendered invisible by the Chinese government, by consumer culture or simply by the circumstances of history.

“From the beginning, this series has a protesting, reflective and uncompromising spirit,” says Bolin.  “I think that in art, an artist’s attitude is the most important element. If an artwork is to touch someone, it must be the result of not only technique, but also the artist’s thinking and struggles in life.”

In this talk, Bolin shows us the very first image in the series, taken in November of 2005. He reveals many, many more images too, giving a peak into his process of being painted into the background — which can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours to 3 to 4 days. The talk ends with a timelapse, showing how Bolin disappeared into the TED stage.

Meanwhile, in this gallery, Bolin shares many more of his fantastical and powerful images.

All photos courtesy of Eli Klein Fine Art.