Jehad Nga is a New York based photojournalist who was very excited last month. He had just produced one of his shots of a lovely, haunting, chiaroscuro young boy posing eerily in front of the peace mural, approximately a whole 2-page spread for the story of Jon Lee Anderson on the ongoing Mali’s struggle against the Islamic extremism. New York Times Magazine had in a few days earlier published the boy’s image to show the current rise of the sectarian fighting in Syria. In the meantime, at Bonni Benrubi Gallery in midtown, his show had been taking place for almost one month.
Oddly, Nga does not actually care for photojournalism, at least at the moment. According to the 36 year old Libyan-American artist, the current blue-chip clippings serve only as an additional proof of what he is not entitled to be carrying out. He says, “This week, the two biggest stories of my carrier were published and I have not even complained yet.” He adds, “By any means I do not dishonor any of the work done by any photojournalist except me. I am my own jury and judge and I am responsible for any of my actions. I do not require anyone’s help. I am able to do it alone.”
His refusal to recognize even the least delight in the aesthetic qualities of his divergence photography is strange. Preeminent publications around the world are throwing their most impressive assignments consistently his way because of his personality, which is mainly defined by the compulsion for brutal individual evaluation. He admits, “I want to sell all my equipment, reformat all the hard drives and begin a fresh since each year I face a crisis.” Similarly, his current rejection of the traditional photography seems to be permanent. That is due to the fact that Nga has engrossed himself in a new technique of producing images that have photographed him out of the war territory and a far different strange zone. The implicit universe of binary codes mainly the manipulation and appropriation of current digital images, some of which are nowadays on exhibit besides his Mali work at the Benrubi show. With the source material varying in subjects from the historical events (Tahrir Square during Arab Spring) to the amateur erotica revealed on the different file sharing blogs, new images gave been changed to different distortion states as well as pictorial abstraction with the help of an open-source code algorithms.
Nga developed an interest in digital abstraction when he discovered photography and consequent it became an important part of his style. It all began in late 90s on a sunset strip. Nga recalls, “I was becoming sober and did not in fact have any pals in Los Angeles who were not using it, and hence I was very isolated.” He went on saying, “I began going to Book Soup and spending sometime in the department of photography. I never own a camera and did not have any interest in the pursuit of photography. I was just on myself.”
It was at the Book Soup where he collected the Digital diaries of Natacha Merritt currently known as the seminal work in-shoot and-point erotica. “I went to my residence and sat in bed flipping through his book enthusiastically for 3 days. At long last, I want to attempt it myself. It was not simply eroticism but it was the fact that the early digital cameras were giving very low image resolution in a manner that talked to me. Nga began shooting his own DIY erotica brand using a cheap camera and reduced resolution intentionally to ensure extraordinary pixilation.
After September, 2011, he started traveling to the Middle East, stumbling into the specialization of conflict photojournalism that occurred during Iraq War with first duty for the Times. His experience surged with some astonishing work in regions such as Algeria, Liberia and other deadly regions in Middle East and Africa. He created albums showing images in those regions during war. His desire to discover the dirtier part of digital persisted.
The Eureka period occurred accidentally during the harrowing and most dangerous experience of his life. While on duty for the Times in February 2011, he used his Libyan passport to get access to Tripoli during the early revolution days which had started in Mediterranean coast. Nga was the only foreign journalist present in the whole city for days when he was arrested by Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces. Before his interrogation and fear for his life, he deleted the memory card containing images he knew could worsen the situation.
When he was released 3 days later, he tried to restore the memory cards using recovery software program however, he was only capable of saving 3 to 4 images. The other files were corrupted and not able to be salvaged. A trove of professionally composed views of a city and citizens in problems had been replaced each by apparently abstracting the arrays of color and pixels that added little to the digital information that passed through the lens onto the book side memory card in his camera.
It was inside those ruined files that he revealed his approach into an artistic investigator of digital as a device that had eluded him for many years. He says, “This was a godsend failure which was the perfect period of my life in a particular way.” That divided decision changed my life since it offered me the means of reconnecting with the other discussion I had been attempting to possess for several years.”
Even though Nga is aware that at that moment, his earning power and cache as a violence photographer are at the peak, he still plans to concentrate on his digital artwork. He says,” I would probably die than follow notoriety or success. My work connection is like any other type of relationship. We love and talk to one another. It does not lie to me and I don’t lie too. I might not be having anything after 50 years from now than what was on a dying hard drive I had before. However I have to keep my connection and integrity to honesty and truth. We want to perish together.”