John Clang's "Twilight Dreams of a Papilio Demoleus"


John Clang is one of the most well-known photographer from Singapore. One of the few people who maintains a incredible balance between his fine-art work and commercial assignments, Clang incorporates his unique point of view in all his projects.

Clang who sees himself as the lime butterfly, flutters alone across notable New York streets. In “Twilight Dreams of a Papilio Demoleus“, Clang depicts cool isolation. His images transform banal moments and observations into surreal stories. Like pages from a novella, each image in “Twilight Dreams” unveils another layer of narrative where Clang attempts to negotiate reality and the unconscious.

John Clang: Twilight Dreams of a Papilio Demoleus

Twilight Dreams of a Papilio Demoleus

Using two cameras triggered in-synchronicity to capture one moment as a stereoscopic image, Twilight Dreams of a Papilio Demoleus delves into themes of personal identity, existence, and the twilight terrain they dwell in.

Partly inspired by Zhuang Zi’s 庄周梦蝶 (The Butterfly Dream), a classic philosophical investigation of personal identity and reality, I have chosen the Lime Butterfly (Papilio Demoleus) commonly found in Singapore to symbolise myself.

The ambivalence of twilight has always fascinated me, making me feel vulnerable and empowered in turns. To me, twilight is the pause in the rhythm of life as the day gradually winds down, thus opening up a private space to contemplate life and also to fret over the uncertainties of tomorrow. I want to capture that fleeting feeling through these images – a sense of hope in the midst of vulnerability.

As this stereoscopic process greatly heightens the precision in capturing a single static moment, it ‘freezes’ time, creating a pause in this twilight dreamscape within which the elusive butterfly flutters about freely, appearing only on one side of the diptych.

Through these images, I want to open up to the audience a space for contemplation; a pause where one can reflect upon this universal theme of personal existence and identity; and a sense of its fragile beauty within our mundane world.

To view more of Clang’s work, please visit his website.