The Invisible Man Photography Technique

Using art and photography to make a statement is nothing new. But Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin has taken protest art to a (literally) revolutionary new place. In a February 2013 TEDTalk, Bolin, known as the “Invisible Man,” shared some of his journey as an artist and proponent of creative freedom in communist China. His work is notable for its innovative use of perspective, pattern, and color to allow the subject (usually himself) to disappear into the background of a photograph.

(** FYI: Bolin delivers his presentation in Chinese, with an interpreter, but much of the English interpretations have been cut out. If you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll want to turn on the captions to hear the interesting explanations behind his work.)

He got his start in “invisible” art in 2005 when Beijing’s International Art Camp was demolished by the Chinese government. He created the following photograph as a protest against the loss of the cultural center and creative outlet for artists in the city:

Liu Bolin Beijing photography

Since that first experiment, Bolin has used the artform to address everything from the preservation of historic sites to food safety. The images below confront the potential loss of the historic Italian city of Venice due to falling sea levels, and the presence of carcinogenic ingredients in all of China’s most popular instant noodle brands.

Liu Bolin Venice

Liu Bolin invisible man photography

Since 2005, he has traveled all over the world posing as the “invisible man” and creating art — without the help of Photoshop — that makes people think and prompts important conversations about challenging issues.

Liu Bolin sunflowers

Liu Bolin China

Liu Bolin Pompeii

in Pompeii

Liu Bolin 9/11 photography

in front of 9/11 memorial

Liu Bolin pandas

“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 struggle in life.”

To See More of Liu Bolin’s work, check out PictureCorrect’s other articles about Ford’s invisible car ad campaign and Bolin’s collaboration with a graffiti artist in New York.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever