Tiane Doan Na Champassak – The King of Photography

Photographs copyright of Tiane Doan Na Champassak 2011

The self published book by Tiane Doan Na Champassak incorporates a title that is an interesting play on words. Usually someone who is known as The King of Photography amongst photographers might be considered as one of the contemporary greats, or someone boasting about their photographic abilities. But in this case, it happens that this book is a compilation of photographs of a King who is the ruler ofThailand (Bhumidol Adulyadej) who appears to obsess with photography, or at least as represented by Champassak, obsessed with using a camera.

Champassak’s concept was to extract found photographs of the King of Thailand while he is holding or using a camera. This photobook is not a regal presentation and absolutely not an authorized biography, as the low quality resolution and printing of the book in conjunction with the very simple saddle stitch binding is not the least bit flattering and a stinging social criticism of this monarch.

Although the King is not portrayed as a stalker or paparazzi, this book does connect with many of the negative attitudes afforded the paparazzi and press photographers. In a real sense the monarch actually keeps a camera between himself and his subjects, that his is monolithic, similar to the lens of his camera, which he views his subjects from a distance and like the film his subjects are captured on, his people become only representative of real people.

We see this ruler photographing, but without any signs of his photographic output which implies a shallowness, of someone who appears to be enraptured with the act of photographing, perhaps as symbolic of someone who is caught up with the act of ruling, but not really a ruler in the full meaning of the word.

The book object: The book is printed using Risograph quadtone printing, with a stiff cover, saddle stitch binding, interior photographs are full bleed, without any accompanying text or page numbering. The interesting print quality of this book is an attribute of the Risograph process, a high-speed digital printing system designed mainly for high-volume photocopying and printing. This process involves printing with real ink like an offset printing, providing an interesting tactile feel to the paper, although the process does not provide a very high quality image resolution, with all manner of artifacts within the printed page.

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