Photo Ping-Pong: Brendan George Ko Vs. Nick Mehedin
In our latest game of Photo Ping-Pong, peripatetic photographer Brendan George Ko took on New York-based photographer (and semi-professional pizza reviewer) Nicholas Mehedin: a symbiosis of styles and mirroring of content between the two artists’ oeuvres ensued.
The first three sets saw Mehedin returning Ko’s serve, here his photographic responses were reflective of the shapes and arrangements of form in Ko’s images. “I decided I simply wanted to base my responses to Brendan’s serves on content rather than mood or atmosphere. I think it’s quite fun to see howphotographers approach similar subject matter in vastly different ways.” Indeed, despite the content of Ko and Mehedin’s photographs differing, the formal qualities of the pairings are entirely in synthesis. In the first set, Mehedin’s response to Ko’s image of water slick with light is a photograph of a building with a luminous, central highlight. “For Brendan’s first serve I sought to match his peculiar highlight. For his second I decided to select an image that is almost the antithesis to his, and lastly I simply matched rocks in the water.”
For sets four to six, Ko was returning Mehedin’s serve — he did this in a typically poetic way, letting his instincts determine the outcome of his returns. “With my response I am carried by my na’au (my gut, intuition) just as I am when I create images.” Delving deep into concept, Ko abstracted the intent of the images and let his mind wander.“With Nicholas’ images I see images of others looking back at the viewer,” he explains. “I see the flesh of modern buildings, and finally I see death through the absence of living. My response is to further discuss what these forms are through my lens.” Ko does this artfully, replying to the vehicle with children’s faces printed upon itwith a man staring into his phone. “I see the selfie and its vehicle, the cellular phone, as a way of looking back at a viewer that is not seen through the eyes, but with the mind as possibility.” Of his return to Mehedin’s second serve, he explains, “I see the flesh of modern buildings as this complex that is currently residing in the once capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, where traditional hale (houses) once stood.” And to the final serve of the game, an image of a hearse, he responds with a shadowy image of grass and bone: “I see the discovery of a sun-bleached skull with pieces of fur still attached and the self-portrait as shadow as the portrait of death and the absence of living, at the very least, the absence of the flesh.”