In “Extras”, a series of 25 photographs, Yang Zhenhong consciously or not built a scene between reality and fiction. The high quality photographs reveal every single detail including the skin texture, lines, sparkling eyes, shining smiles. These observations tell us how much these smiling faces are sincere, that we can almost feel the happiness coming out from their skin pores. Nonetheless, this is acting directed by the artist. These extras were employed to relate some cheerful moments of their lives to a group of people they have never seen before, under the spotlights of a shooting studio, where their grins were instantly caught by the camera. Although those weren’t smiling faces of friends or family sitting at home or under a tree, who could tell that they didn’t possess any sincere smiling appeal?
Modern civilization invented camera, video camera, and other equipments, to record evidences for human kind, but Yang Zhenzhong often notices paradoxes in them. Just as in the previous “Useful Life”, in Yang Zhenzhong’s work “I will die”, this “existing evidence” is about “death”. Likewise, the evidences of these smiling extras aren’t necessarily about happiness.