Dream within a Dream | Zhou Yang 《寻梦》| 周仰

Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014

Text by Zhou Yang

Is all that we see or seem,
But a dream within a dream?
Edgar Allan Poe

My friend Camille SHANGGUAN has been learning Kunqu Opera from a master for eight years. Being an intellect instead of a professional actress, she sees this ancient performance art not as a form to entertain others, but as a way to create a lucid dream within the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The first time I listened to Camille singing Kunqu Opera was in a small gathering of friends. There were no dramatic lights or stage settings, nor dashing costumes. Only herself, sitting in the centre of the group. She took a breath, and the enchanting voice that followed had us all spellbound. She chanted a verse from , the most-known Kunqu Opera masterpiece created in Ming Dynasty, which starts with a fair maiden’s dream to find love.

We all hold dreams in our hearts, trivial or noble. We share the experience of pursuing dreams, even though we have to make compromises when faced with the reality. The chanting of Kunqu Opera offers a rare remedy, for both the singer and the listeners, a breathing space parallel with the present. To me, Camille’s chanting is a unique channel leading me away from here and now. I believe that, in a moment of synesthesia, I see the world around me a bit differently, which is what I try to capture on the films. Whenever she starts her chanting, it seems, we are magically transported to another space and another time. It could be the remote past, or it could be our imagery backyard. Or, are we not in a dream within a dream?

 Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014
Zhou Yang, Dream within a Dream, 2014

Zhou Yang (born. 1985) is a photographer, writer and translator. Graduated from MA in Photojournalism, University of Westminster, Zhou Yang had intensive working experiences in the media industry. She was photo editor of EllEMEN magazine and editor in International Channel Shanghai. She is currently working closely with City Pictorial, Travel + Leisure, Time-Weekly, Travel & Photographer and many other magazines in China. Zhou Yang is also translator of Annie Leibovitz at Work by Annie Leibovitz.

Website: www.zyfotos.viewbook.com


『最撩人春色是今年/說什麼低就高來粉畫垣/原來春心無處不飛懸/是睡荼蘼抓住了裙釵 線/恰便是花似人心向好處牽』(《牡丹亭 尋夢》懶畫眉)


进入了21世纪,在园子里唱曲听曲的机会已十分难得。但只要笛子吹响,檀板轻敲,曲人启 迪喉开声之际,无论身处何地,多嘈杂的环境,昆曲都能奇妙地將人们带入到园林景致里头, 让人体会到那一份渐已遗失的风雅。欣赏昆曲这样古老美好的艺术实际上并不需要太深入的了解,随着委婉的唱腔和精美的唱詞,听者自然被引领进入,梦境。



1985生于上海, 英国威斯敏斯特⼤大学报道摄影硕⼠。媒体⼈, 曾任《ELLEMEN睿⼠士》杂志图⽚编辑,与许多摄影师、插画师有合作。目前是独立摄影师、翻译, 与《城市画报》、《招⾏行财智⽣生活》、《旅⾏摄影》、《碳商》等多家媒体有合作; 译作《安妮在⼯工作》由北京美术摄影出版社出版, 获得摄影⼈和普通读者的认可。在上海持续拍摄个⼈人项⽬目,作品关注年龄、记忆与生命。


Let the Orange in | Grey Chen

Text by Huang Shisi

Let the Orange In
Hard Cover, 52 pages, 41 color plates, 25x20cm
Self published, Nottingham UK, Jul 2012

Book cover, Let the orange in, book by Grey Chen
Book cover, Let the orange in, book by Grey Chen

“It’s easy to lost the joy of photography since we are doing so hard – trudged thousands of miles, wrestling with different compositions, staging for large scenes, manipulating a single image all day long; while it is much easier to forget the reason of taking photographs when serious documentary, mass advertising and fine art market were taking advantages of photography itself.”
__ Grey Chen, Let the Orange in

Let the Orange in is the photobook made by photographer Grey Chen — the essential collection of her photography project about Light. In this project, she has been taking photographs of the scenes with light illuminated since 2010. While the fondness of light must be dated back much earlier, just as she mentioned in the book — sometimes, light is the only inspiration since most of the things are quicker to get tired with after long period of study.

British typical haze weathers awakened her deep desires of sunshine in the beginning, and then she started thinking about the connections between sunlights and emotions. Afterwards, her research went to the direction if the color of light could work instead of light itself in photography – since nothing could be seen without light, while in color photography, light becomes colors after processing. That is why Grey used Orange to replace Sunshie in the title – Let the Orange in. The relationships among light, objects, colors and emotions are what she has interests in.

It is intriguing that her book has haunted me since the first look — the warm fading orange cover, the photographs recorded scarce sunshine fulfilling British people’s daily life, the oily bacon and egg in the morning sunshine, the mouldy lemon slices in the sunset. Grey is a master playing with color photography — she turns the gentlest daily scenes into dynamic photographs, creating a world fulfilling with light, keeping our eyes open for her love of the world.

Let the orange in, photography by Grey Chen, 2013
Let the orange in, photography by Grey Chen, 2013
Let the Orange In, photography by Grey Chen, 2013
Let the Orange In, photography by Grey Chen, 2013
Let the Orange In, photography by Grey Chen, 2013
Let the Orange In, photography by Grey Chen, 2013

Grey Chen (灰小), MA in Photography in Nottingham Trent University, UK; BA (Second Year) in Graphic Design, Camberwell College of Arts, University of Arts London. Her works have been selected in several exhibitions in Europe, mainly UK.

See more, www.greychen.com


Let the Orange in是由摄影师Grey Chen创作且自行出版的摄影画册,此书选取了她的摄影项目“光”中的主要作品。从2010年起,她便开始了不断追寻光的旅程。而对光的热爱,其实始于更早的时候。正如她在书的后记中所提,对事物关注过久总会让人容易感到厌倦,唯有光是她永恒的灵感。

英国典型的阴霾天气唤醒了她对阳光的深深渴望,促使她开始思考光线和情绪的关系。尔后,她的研究方向走上颜色是否能代替光线本身来作用——因为万物离开光线便不存在(不可被看见)。在彩色摄影中,呈现在底片上的光经过冲印之后便呈现为颜色。这也是为什么在标题Let the Orange in中,Grey用Orange(光的常见色)来代替光线本身。光、被摄物、颜色和情绪,这四者的关系,正是她的兴趣点。


Grey Chen (灰小),英国诺丁汉特伦特大学摄影研究生;本科(二年级)毕业于伦敦艺术大学坎布威尔艺术学院平面设计专业。她的作品被屡次选入欧洲(英国为主)的展览。

Coming Exhibition: 50 Contemporary Photobooks from China 2009-2014

Go East: 50 Contemporary Photobooks from China 2009-2014
FORMAT International Photography Festival
Derby, UK
Curator: Yining He

Zhang Lijie, Midnight Tweedle, 2013 © Zhang Lijie
Zhang Lijie, Midnight Tweedle, 2013 © Zhang Lijie

China has a fascinating history of photobook publishing. As Martin Parr considers, China is a forgotten land of photobook that no one knew about. The Chinese Photobook exhibition, coproduced by the Rencontre d’Arles and Aperture, revealed for the first time the richness and diversity of this heritage.

Entering the new millennium, China as the world’s second largest economy is undergoing the most rapid urbanization. As a result of these emerging challenges and creative energies, contemporary Chinese photography has flourished into one of the most vibrant art forms of our time. In the meantime, the publishing of independent photobook among young photographers has become a trend over the past five years. At the early stage, some Chinese photographers published photo-books with the aid of overseas galleries and independent publishing companies. Zen Foto Books is an example; it was established in Tokyo in 2009, specializing in Asian photography with a particular emphasis on China. They successively published photo-books for several Chinese photographers, including Lin Shu’s Toxic and Zhang Yuming’s The Ancient Tower. Didier Quarroz from Switzerland founded Sandmeier Press in Zurich in 2011, and soon afterwards he moved to Shanghai to cooperate with active local photographers and publish photo-books. Meanwhile, independent publishing companies that emerged in China, such as Banana Fish, Gooooodies and Jia Za Zhi Press, are constantly discovering distinctive Chinese photographers and helping them with photo-books publishing. In addition, some photographers choose to express their ideas by means of handmade books. Zhu Lanqing is a youngish photographer born in 1991, and she attained Three Shadow Photography Awards with A Journey in Reverse Direction, a sophisticatedly complied handmade book.

from the photobook 'A Journal In Reverse Direction', 2013 ©  Zhu Lanqing
from the photobook ‘A Journal In Reverse Direction’, 2013 © Zhu Lanqing

50 Contemporary Photobooks from China is aimed at collectively presenting the photo-books created by Chinese photographers from 2009 to 2014 to audience in the UK and the Europe. Photographers that attend the exhibition are from all parts of China and living in different cities in the world, and thus they have a diversity of academic and professional backgrounds. Some of the artists graduated from domestic universities and have experiences as a journalistic photographer; some others were born in the 1990s and went to the Europe or America for photographic education soon after they graduated from high school. Most of the 50 photo-books at the exhibition are produced by independent publishing companies, among which there are photo-books that the photographers print through companies like Blurb or local printing houses; also, there are quite many handmade by the photographers. The works gathered in the 50 photo-books have covered nearly all genres of contemporary photography, including portraits, landscape, fashion, documentary, conceptual and so forth. Albeit these photo-books are not all produced in China, the subject matters centre on the contemporary discourses of China without exception. Photography has long been deemed as the evidence of recording the reality, and the photo-books keep such evidence permanently. 50 Contemporary Photo-books from China is trying to present the lateral of Chinese contemporary photography by virtue of “evidence”, the theme of FORMAT Festival 2015.

Yang Yuanyuan, 10 Days in Krakow, 2014 @Jiazazhi Press
Yang Yuanyuan, 10 Days in Krakow, 2014 @Jiazazhi Press

It is designed as an integral exhibition that showcases photobooks, selected photography and multimedia works. 50 Contemporary Photobooks from China is more than an exhibition that reports the gradations of Chinese photography; moreover, I hope to spark a series of discussions via the exhibition. It is trying to examine the historical, social and visual discourses of Chinese independent photobook publication industry by exploring the interrelationships of photographers, publishers, consumers and the photographic industries. By looking into the current trend of independent and self-publishing photobook movement in China, we can address the following questions: How did the independent photobook trend start in China? What is the social and cultural background behind the industry? How does small presses like Jia Za Zhi Press shape the business of contemporary photobook in China? What are the roles of the photography galleries and art schools in response to such trend?

During the process of preparing the proposal, I received great supports from many photographers and publishers. I wish to assemble the youthful forces of Chinese photography through this opportunity and create an exhibition of the international standards. In addition, I plan to print a catalogue of the exhibition for selling on the site. Furthermore, subsequent to the FORMAT International Photography Festival 2015, 50 Contemporary Photobooks from China will be on itinerant exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities in China.


中国摄影画册出版有着令人沉醉的历史。正如马丁·帕尔(Martin Parr)所说,中国是被遗忘的摄影画册之国,其非凡的摄影画册作品鲜有人知。与阿尔勒摄影节和光圈出版社合作的中国摄影书展览,正是第一次向全世界观众展示了中国摄影画册遗产的丰富性和多样性。


早先,中国的一些摄影师们借以境外画廊或独立出版社的帮助出版画册, 比如2009年在东京成立的Zen Foto Books,专门为亚洲摄影师尤其是中国摄影师服务。他们先后为几位中国摄影师出版画册,包括摄影林舒的《鸠》(Toxic), 张玉明的《古塔》(The Ancient Tower);来自瑞士的Didier Quarroz 于2011年在苏黎世创办Sandmeier Press, 随后便搬到中国上海来和当地活跃的摄影师合作,出版画册。于此同时, 先后在中国成立的独立出版社,如香蕉鱼Banana Fish,Gooooodies以及假杂志社(Jiazazhi Press),一直以来都在不断地挖掘来自中国的优秀摄影师,帮助他们出版画册。除此之外,一些摄影师选择手工书的方式充分表达自己的创意,朱岚清是一位1991年出生的年轻摄影师,她凭借一套精心编辑的手工书作品:《负向的旅程》(A Journey in Reverse Direction),获得2014年三影堂摄影大奖。

“来自中国的当代摄影画册”展旨在将2009——2014年中国摄影师创作的画册集中带到英国及欧洲观众的眼前。参展的摄影师们来自中国的各个角落,生活在地球上的不同城市,也有着截然不同的学习和工作背景。他们中的一些人在国内的大学毕业, 有过报刊摄影师的经历, 也有从高中毕业就远赴欧美院校学习摄影专业的九零后艺术家。 参展的50本画册大多由独立出版社制作,其中也有摄影师自己通过像Blurb这样的公司,或当地工厂印制;还有相当一部分由摄影师手工制作。这50本画册中的作品几乎涵盖了当代摄影的所有类别,包括肖像、风景、时尚、纪实、概念等。虽然这些摄影书并不都是在中国制作,但摄影作品的主题都始终围绕着中国当代的议题所展开。一直以来,摄影都被当作纪录现实的“证据”(Evidence),而摄影书更将这些证据长久地保留了下来, “始生如孽——来自中国的当代摄影画册”的展览正是想借“证据”(Evidence) ——2015年FORMAT国际摄影节 的主题,将中国当代摄影的这个侧面展现在观众眼前。

此次展览参展的作品包括摄影画册、精选摄影作品以及多媒体作品。当然, 的展览不仅仅是一次阶段性的报告展,我更希望通过展览引发一系列的讨论。我希望通过发掘摄影师、出版商、消费者和摄影行业之间的关系来观察中国独立画册出版的历史、社会和视觉内涵。看到中国目前独立自主出版画册的趋势,我们可以提出以下问题:中国独立画册的趋势是如何兴起的?这一产业的社会文化背景是什么?假杂志这样的小媒体如何塑造了中国当代画册的运营模式?摄影画廊和艺术学校在这一趋势中扮演了怎样的角色?

在准备这个项目书的过程中,我受到了很多摄影师和出版人的支持,也希望通过这个展览的机会将中国摄影圈里的年轻力量集合起来,做一场国际水准的展览。此外,我还计划印制和展览相配合的展览图册,用于在展览会场推广。此外,在Format Festival 2015 举行之后,“始生如孽——来自中国的当代摄影画册” 还会在2015年期间在中国北京、上海和其他城市进行巡展。

Go East Project × DDC presents | Curiosity

Photography and Curiosity
Essay by Yining He
Translated by Nianping Tian

“Curiosity is an ambiguous passion: the virtuous impulse behind the search for knowledge and at the same time a disreputable desire for novelty and strangeness.” This is how curiosity was defined in the exhibition called Curiosity: Art & the Pleasures of Knowing in Hayward Gallery, the U.K. In Chinese dictionaries, to be curious is to be interested in new and unfamiliar things, or to be unconventional. This Chinese expression originates from Wang Chong, a philosopher in the Western Han Dynasty. In his book On Balance, he writes “The pursuit of unconventional things will never end, making those things everlasting.”

Lin Weixi, Stereo, 2014, © Lin Weixi
Lin Weixi, Stereo, 2014, © Lin Weixi

In 2013, the 211th issue of Aperture focused on the curiosity in photography. In the preface, the editor wrote “Photography has long served as a medium of choice not only for the curious practitioner, but also for his or her audience, whose curiosity may be either aroused or appeased by an image.” As early as the 1960s, Richard Cumming, the artist who aroused my interest in the fancy of photography, used scenery to reproduce the connections among different objects, creating film-like visual languages. Later, I was attracted by the absurd and meaningful works from photographer Joan Fontcuberta, who is an expert in raising curiosity. The documentary photography stories he created during the past three decades used visual languages, including advertisements, museum displays and scientific magazines, and combined the reality with romance. All those works challenged science, the symbol of authority. Curiosity encourages people to know the world, and photography is the driving force for this exploration. In the recent Shanghai Photo, as an audience, I closely appreciated the lunar exploration photos provided by NASA. Those magnificent images excited me and satisfied my curiosity.

Hu Xiaoqin, Known Unknowns
Hu Xiaoqin, Known Unknowns, © Hu Xiaoqin

Curiosity stems from our most direct sensory experiences. Photographer Lin Weixi thought about dimensions of pictures in her Stereo. She provided us with a serious of sensory experiences in our daily life. They seem irrelevant at first sight, but interconnected with each other. Known Unknowns originated from careful observations of graphic designer Hu Xiaoqin. The gorgeous world became abstract in her eyes and she transformed it into patterns in her unique photographic style. At the same time, with the observation and experience of the photographer, curiosity was given more profound contents by her images. Yang Qingqing concentrated on the tiny sparkling objects she met. Driven by her curiosity, she photographed them and edited them in her Sparkling. Li Yuqi’s Temperature Differences presented us the nomadic life in the grand Hulunbuir Grasslands with vague imageries and warm tones. She said she had never thought that it would become a series of work. It has no theory description; it is entwined with her body’s perception. The perception is the initial urge for her photography: connecting with others, and connecting with herself.

Yang Qinqin, Sparkling, © Yang Qinqin
Yang Qinqin, Sparkling, © Yang Qinqin

Cities are always the paradise for explorations.Mark8:24 was edited by Ma Yinni when she was studying at London College of Communication. Through the presentation of the materialistic urban life, her work explored the real spiritual life of human beings. The photographer used strong contrasts to raise our curiosity and to see how vision can lead audiences to different thoughts. Meanwhile, the night in a city has another sight. Since 2013, young photographer 9 mouth began to take pictures of female nudes in city at night. In Night Tour, 9 mouth put little female bodies in massive city architectures. Through the strong comparison, he presented his thought upon independence in metropolis. Li Chaoyu, who lived in Walla Walla, a typical American town for four years, took pictures for those common architectures in that small town. Domestic Nightscape captured and magnified the contrast of luminosity and the interweaving of colors from different light sources of architectures, making those quiet blocks and middle-class tract houses dreary and mind numbing at night. Their original materiality started to become abstract till the moment when the two sides of those architectures were perfectly balanced.

Ma Yini, Mark8:24, 2013
Ma Yini, Mark8:24, 2013, © Ma Yining
Li Chaoyu, Domestic Landscape, 2014, © Li Chaoyu
Li Chaoyu, Domestic Landscape, 2014,© Li Chaoyu

Memories sometimes guide photographers back to their childhoods or make them think about the reality. Memory and present entwine with each other, so do reality and romance. Fascinated about the surroundings and curious about the reality, Huang Dongli rethought about the real world through his project. shows a kind of non-linear narrative documentary which exposes the subtle relations among objects. In Wu Shankun’s Innocent Youth, the photographer tried to use abstract images to explore our endowed curiosities. For him, this work is rather a dairy of subconsciousness than a collection of images. He presented his private memories step by step and felt that the past could stay, allowing him to see his youth afar. Some artists created interesting images through digital collage. They combined photos with varies elements and made interesting works. Kayan Kwok is an artist, illustration and a graphic designer based in Hong Kong. A Poster a Day is from a project called “A poster per day for 365 days” which makes a poster per day till it hit 365 days. This project is not a professional work about photography, however, it is a practice of collage. By redesigning photos from 1900 to 1970, the photographer successfully brought creative ideas, mysteries and memories to a multi-dimensional space.

Huang Dongli, Beyond the Surface
Huang Dongli, Beyond the Surface, © Huang Dongli

This exhibition is jointly held by Go East Project and Dusk Dawn Club. We gathered works of 10 photographers from Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Tai Wan to explore the practice of curiosity in modern photography. As an online institution dedicated to building a platform of photography, Go East Project encourages the young to explore the world through photography. At the same time, by cooperating with Dusk Dawn Club, we hope to arouse audiences’ resonance by group exhibition.

Go East Project × DDC presents

Curiosity | Photography Exhibition
November 8, 2014-December 9, 2014
Opening: 15:30, November 8

Artists: Xiaoqin Hu, Dongli Huang, 9 mouth,Kayan Kwok, Chaoyu Li, Weixi Lin, Yinni Ma, Shankun Wu, Qingqing Greg Yang

Curator: Yining He

DDC(Dusk Dawn Club), 14 Laoshan Hutong, Dongcheng District
Contact: 010-64078969

Facebook events: https://www.facebook.com/events/863584536994568/


“好奇心是一个模糊的激情:它是一种隐藏在对知识的探索背后的良性冲动,以及对新奇和陌生感声名狼藉的渴望。”. 这是艺术展《好奇:艺术与求知的愉悦》(Curiosity: Art & The Pleasures of Knowing)在英国Hayward Gallery举办时为“好奇心”下的定义;而在中文的辞典中,“好奇”一词带有对自己不熟悉的事物新奇而感兴趣,或有喜欢标新立异之意,取自汉王充《论衡·案书》:“好奇无己,故奇名无穷。”

2013年,美国光圈杂志(Aperture)第211期则把专题聚焦在摄影的“好奇心”上,编者在刊首页上这样写道:“摄影曾在很长时间成为那些拥有好奇心的摄影师选择的媒介,但同时也适用于他们的观众,因为,一张照片足以挑起或平息一个人的好奇心。”理查德·卡明(Richard Cumming), 这位最早引起我对摄影的趣味进行长期关注的艺术家,早在上世纪60年代,他便开始用布景的方式将物件之间的联系重现出来,从而制造出富有电影幻像的视觉语言。不久之后,我迷恋上了摄影艺术家胡安·冯库贝尔塔(Joan Fontcuberta)一系列荒诞离奇且意味深远的作品。冯擅长利用观众的好奇心大作文章。他在过去三十年中创作的摄影作品,大多使用了广告,博物馆陈列和科学刊物的视觉语言,并结合了现实与虚构的摄影叙事, 一致挑战着象征权威的科学。好奇心驱使着人们去认识这个世界,摄影更成为探索未知的动力。在不久前于上海所举办的上海影像艺术博览会上,作为观众近距离地观看到NASA宇航局的探月照片,我在浩瀚的登月影像中找寻视觉上的刺点,极度地满足了好奇心。

好奇心时而源自人们最直接的感观体验,摄影师林味熹则对照片的维度发起了疑问,尝试通过《立体声——一串线索引发“声”》,帮助你我找寻日常生活中一连串看似无关,实则紧紧相连的感官体验。Known Unknowns来自平面设计师胡晓琴平日里对周围景观的极致捕捉,周围五光十色的世界在她的独特视角中变得抽象化,从而转换成一张张似乎从现实环境中抽离出的图样(pattern),亦成为她特有的影像风格。与此同时,好奇心也伴随着摄影师对周围环境环境的悉心观察和亲身经历,在影像上衍生出更深层次阐释。杨青青的《闪烁》则聚焦在她偶遇的细小闪光的物件上,在好奇心的驱使下,她不由自主地将它们拍摄下来,再经过重新编辑赋予其全新地生命。而在台北摄影师李毓琪的《温差》作品中,粗颗粒的影调既暧昧又温暖,将冷冽的呼伦贝尔大草原上的生活拉近到观者眼前。在《温差》成型前,李毓琪从未想过它会成为一组作品,更没有什么创作论述,只与摄影师身体的感知相关,而这感知即是她拍摄的初始,与自我,与他人。

城市始终都是摄影师探索发现的游客场,马寅妮于伦敦传媒学院学习摄影时所拍摄的作品Mark8:24, 通过对城市生活物质表面的强烈展示来达到对于表象下人类真实精神生活的探求。强化色彩和触觉的感受,来挑战视觉本身可以做到怎样的引导观者进入不同的心理层面, 带给观众无限的好奇。此时此刻,夜晚的城市又是另一番景象,年轻摄影艺术家九口走召从2013年开始在夜晚拍摄城市中女性的身体,在《夜游》中,九口将女性柔弱的躯体置放在夜幕下的城市建筑之中,尝试用视觉影像上的强烈对比来映射他对消费主义大都市下自身独立性的思考。而在美国小镇Walla Walla生活了四年的年轻艺术家李超瑜,则将相机对准小镇那些熟悉且平淡无奇的建筑,Domestic Nightscape捕捉并放大了夜晚建筑不同光源的明度对比和色彩交织。使得白天千篇一律的中产阶级住宅在夜幕下变得不再枯燥。它们原本呈现的单调的纯物质性开始变得抽象,直到两者以完美比例融合。

记忆中的片段时隐时现,在不经意间勾起摄影师们对童年生活的怀念以及对现世的思考。记忆与现实、真实与虚构相互堆叠交织着,对周围事物的好奇心和对真实的追求驱使年轻摄影师黄东黎对现实的二次思考。 参展作品《表象之外》是关于现实与记忆的非线性的叙事,揭露隐藏在日常现实之下事物存在的微妙关系。而在吴舢锟的作品《一封来自远方的信》中,他尝试用抽象的影像来挖掘停留在脑海深处的童年探索欲。对摄影师本人而言,这部作品更像是一个潜意识日记,一点一点把私密的精神碎片抖落出来,似乎影像中的时空一直停留,能远远地看到过去地自己。亦有艺术家通过数码拼贴,将照片和各种元素结合在一起,创作出趣味十足的作品。A Poster A Day是一个365天的创作项目,来自香港的年轻艺术家Kayan Kwok通过将1900-1970年代的老照片进行再创作,虽然作品并非是对摄影本身的讨论,但却是有关如何用拼贴将奇思妙想、神秘或过去的状态带到一个多维空间中的实践。

此次Go East Project 与黄昏黎明俱乐部(Dusk Dawn Club)共同策划的“好奇心”展,集合了上述来自大陆、香港和台湾共十位青年摄影师的作品,集中探索“好奇心”这一话题在当代摄影中的实践。 作为一个致力于搭建摄影平台的线上机构,Go East Project鼓励年轻人通过摄影的媒介去挖掘身边世界里的种种议题,同时,我们通过与黄昏黎明俱乐部的合作,力求用群展的方式带给观者以共鸣。

Documenting Landscape in Contemporary Chinese Photography: A New Perspective

Essay by Yining He

I. Introduction
In the last ten years, fuelled by international dealers and collectors, the market for contemporary Chinese photography has grown rapidly with a booming economy. Chinese new landscape photographers smartly recreated traditional Chinese landscape paintings by employing a variety of digital photography techniques and aesthetic strategies to acquire the attention of art curators, critics and photography dealers. However, only until relatively recently, a group of young practitioners have taken a different approach to landscape photography, which has set them apart from the majority of their counterparts. For example, we can look at two key figures of this movement, Zhang Jin and Taca Sui, whose work adapted the form of photography in accordance with Chinese philosophical and aesthetic concepts. Despite their contribution to contemporary Chinese photography, little has been written about their issues. Based on the social, historical and contemporary experience, this essay identifies and illustrates the main features of their approach in creating a new vision of Chinese contemporary landscape photography.

The first part of essay offers a brief overview of this new movement by introducing Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s work. The second part of the essay places an emphasis on their landscape photography practices, basing my research on the differences between Chinese and Western philosophy and culture – although the aim of the essay is not only primarily to show the differences between Chinese and Western landscape art. Finally, this essay examines how Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s practice suit the niche market of the contemporary photography industry.

II. New Movement of Chinese Landscape Photography

Of all the different practices of Chinese contemporary photography —— fashion, documentary, portraiture and so on —— none is richer and more famous than landscape. Entering the new millennium, as the world’s second largest economy, China has been undergoing the most rapid urbanization. As a result of these emerging challenges and creative energies, contemporary Chinese landscape photography has flourished into one of the most vibrant art forms of our time. Many photographers focus on the urban landscape to express their feelings towards related issues such as construction and deconstruction in the cities, environmental challenges as well as many others.

An inaugural photography exhibition titled Open Frame: New Landscape Photography from China was held in Yavuz Fine Art Gallery in Singapore, 2010. This large-scale landscape photography exhibition featured 43 works that reflected the life and social changes of contemporary China:

… The artists included in Open Frame, though at varying stages of their respective careers, all use facets of the landscape – real, imagined, urban, industrial, pastoral, heavenly or watery – to reveal China today.
(Lenzi, 2010)

In spite of the fact that western curators, critics and photography dealers are seemly obsessed with manipulated or sharply contrasted landscape photographs, frequently coined as “Chinese Aesthetics”, Zhang Jin and Taca Sui are using different approaches to their photography practice. Instead of creating sharply contrasted urban landscapes. They had both trekked to distant landscapes in China and created a series of photographs of landscape using the pleasure of the imagination.

Zhang Jin (b.1978) is a freelance photographer based in Chengdu. In 2012, he was awarded the most prestigious photography award in China initiated by Three Shadows Photography Center, which attracted approximately 358 candidates last year. Zhang Jin traveled through the eastern section of the ancient Silk Road from Xi’an to Yangguan during 2010 to 2013. Whilst he was there, he positioned himself inside the landscapes of his imagination and shot a photo series entitled Another Season during the year. As he mentioned at the beginning of his work statement: ‘it’s the road of Buddhism coming to China, where I find my enthusiasm for the grand desert. Moreover, it has my encounter with the unknown landscape’(Zhang, 2012).

Photography by Zhang Jin, Entrance, from The Other Season series, 2010
Photography by Zhang Jin, Entrance, from The Other Season series, 2010

Taca Sui, another key figure of this movement, currently has a solo exhibition at Chambers New York from 7th March to 19th April 2013. His latest photo series titled Odes is the culmination of seven small projects that were inspired by the Book of Odes (Shi Jing) – the oldest Chinese book of songs, poems and hymns. Taca spent almost three years following an itinerary based on places named in the text and visited them one after another to take thousands of photographs. As the artist said: ‘during the shoot, it was almost as if my emotions and artistic direction were under the influence of some unknown force’ (Sui, 2012).

Photography by Taca Sui, untitled from Odes of Wei series,2012
Photography by Taca Sui, untitled from Odes of Wei series,2012

Although they both came from an American education background, Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s work is the adaptation of photography to Chinese philosophical and aesthetic concepts – especially through a dialogue with different kinds of representation found in various Chinese poetry and painting. In an artist statement published in Zhang Jin’s personal website:

There are traces from the ancient civilization and the most important is an exploration for a seer. There are also natural creatures, which persistently and simply exist everywhere regardless of the dynasty or nation changes over time, with the primitive strength born from basic instinct (Zhang, 2012).

Yizhong Ruan, was one of the main judges of Three Shadow Photography Award 2012, which included Hilla Becher and Christopher Phillip. Yizhong Ruan commented on Zhang Jin’s photo series Another Season: ‘his pictures of emptiness traces the life of ancient Chinese and involve viewers to make a dialogue with history’ (Ruan, 2012). Meanwhile, in explaining Odes, Taca Sui also emphasized the relation between Chinese philosophy and his project. ‘After several months of textual and geographical research, I was alarmed to find myself falling into the vast artificial construct of annotations and commentaries built by generations of Confucian scholars’ (Sui, 2012).

Both Zhang Jin and Taca’s photographs indicate a trend to resist the manipulation of digital technology. With a soft contrast between landscapes and the pale ground, they evoke the aesthetic of Chinese traditional brush-and-ink painting by using traditional blank and white photography.

The formal austerity and timeless subject matter of Taca Sui’s work sets him apart from the great majority of his contemporaries, relating him to the earlier masters of the medium rather than to current practitioners of manipulated photography (Chamber Fine Art, 2013).

III. From Chinese Cultural Roots
Landmark: A Stroll Through the Fields of Photography takes place at the Somerset House in London. Curated by William A. Ewing, the exhibition featured images by 81 international photographers with a multitude of interests in this field. This included photographers such as Edward Burynsky, Robert Adams, Simon Norfolk, Thomas Struth and Hiroshi Sugimoto, among the many masters featured in the show. Meanwhile, the exhibition showcased a few iconic photographs created by Yao Lu, Yang Yongliang and Liu Xiaofang;three leading contemporary Chinese photographers in the field. Not surprisingly, viewers can see the differences between Chinese and Western landscape photography reflected in the subjects, creative ideas, artistic expressions and so forth. Obviously, cultural differences between Chinese and Western landscape art have manifested in their own form of expression and aesthetic characteristics. Zhang Jin and Taca Sui both carry the practice of ‘Literati-Graphics’ into their photo series and it becomes a defining characteristic of this new moment. Thus, based on research into the differences between Chinese and Western philosophy and culture, the following paragraphs illustrate that Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s landscape practices find their roots in traditional Chinese culture.

Photography by Yao Lu, Mount Zhong in the Mist, 2006
Photography by Yao Lu, Mount Zhong in the Mist, 2006

First of all, there are differences in subject matter in Western and Chinese landscape art. Western landscape as a genre in art began to emerge at the end of the fifteenth century, covering a variety of subjects. Looking at Sense of Place, one of the most influential contemporary landscape photography exhibitions held in Brussels in 2012, it shows a vast and wide range of subjects that range from abandoned railways to dams; water resorts to amusements parks; forests to cliffs; and costal areas to industrial sites. While in China, according to Dr. Eleanor Consten: ‘The Chinese landscape is a representation of the universe and the spirit that creates and preserves it; both are timeless and boundless ’(Consten). Thus, Shan Shui (mountain and water), symbols of timelessness and the intangible in Chinese culture, have become the perennial theme of Chinese landscape art since the ninth century. There is no wonder why many Chinese contemporary photographers choose Shan Shui as one of the most important themes. The mountains and rivers that appeared in old Chinese poems became Taca Sui’s obsession during his stay in US. Later, he marked all the names of each and planned his first journey in 2010. Thus, broad mountains and rivers, trees and stones became the main subject of his photo series. Meanwhile, Zhang Jin went to the most remote area along the Silk Road, trying to remove traces of time and history by taking photographs of the mountains.

Photography by Taca Sui, from Odes of Ya • Song series, 2011
Photography by Taca Sui, from Odes of Ya • Song series, 2011
Photography by  Zhang Jin, Freezing Cold from The Other Season series, 2013
Photography by Zhang Jin, Freezing Cold from The Other Season series, 2013

Secondly, one the most prominent features of Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s practice is their response to the traditional Chinese philosophy and literati spirit, which makes them significantly different to their Western contemporaries. Over the centuries, the tradition principles of Confucianism and Taoism have played a crucial role in the practice of Chinese classic literature and traditional painting. According to James Cahill’s study, he drew attention to a school of Taoist poets and painters, ‘who dwelt upon their emotional responses to the sights and sounds of nature and were inspired by them to the creation of works of art’ (Cahill, 1972 P25). As Michael Sullivan says: ‘Celebrated in ink for millennia, the landscape in Chinese art embodies key philosophical and spiritual ideas unmatched by the Western canon’s descriptive approach to nature’ (Sullivan, 1973 P113). In short, traditional landscape art in China is not devoted to nature, but devoted to artist response to nature. While the representation in Western landscape, offers opportunities for extended contemplation of scenes and scenarios (Wells, 2011).

Photography Taca Sui, untitled from Odes of Qi• Cao series, 2012
Photography by Taca Sui, untitled from Odes of Qi• Cao series, 2012

Zhang Jin was born in a small town of Sichuan province and later graduated from Polytechnic Institute of New York University with a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering. Zhang Jin claimed that his art practice was mainly influenced by the artistic spirit of Chinese Wei-Jin in his exploration of ‘the spirituality of the inner self, to embrace ineffable adventures’ (Zhang, 2012). On the other hand, Taca Sui (b.1984) was born in Tsingtao city of Shandong province, which was the home province of Confucius (551-479 BC). Brought up by a literati family, Taca Sui started to study traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy at a very young age, and he was later trained as a photographer in Rochester Institute of Technology after he quit his studies at CAFA (China Central Academy of Fine Arts). Although the New Topographic movement has heavily influenced his art practice, it is the adaptation of photography to Chinese philosophical and aesthetic concepts.

Photography by Zhang Jin, The Dumb Stone, from The Other Season series, 2012
Photography by Zhang Jin, The Dumb Stone, from The Other Season series, 2012
Photography by Taca Sui, Abandoned Temple, from Odes of Ya • Song series, 2011
Photography by Taca Sui, Abandoned Temple, from Odes of Ya • Song series, 2011

Finally, in order to visualize creative ideas, Chinese and Western artists apply different methods of artistic expression. When tracing the English word “landscape” back to its Chinese source, it combines two Chinese characters “Jin Guan”, which means “scenery and see”. The different way of seeing landscapes leads to different results for an art practice. For example, linear perspective has become the means of constructing representation central to the aesthetics of Western landscape since Mediaeval times, while according to Dr. Eleanor Consten: ‘perspective would only spoil the scope of a Chinese landscape; a centralized composition would stop the spirit in its voyage’ (Consten). Nevertheless, the middle format, together with the loose contrast between the soft focus and pale grounds in Taca’s photograph, evokes the aesthetics of Chinese Shan Shui painting. Also, in terms of narrative, when we look at photographs from Another Season, viewers can enter and travel through each part of the picture in turn, going from one to the other – we shall be as little bothered by the lack of a uniform viewpoint as we would be.
IV. Market success
The history of Chinese landscape photography can be traced back to the late 19th century. Tung Hing, a Hong Kong photographer once went to Wuyi Mountain and took photographs of mountains and rivers, bridges and trees, temples and monasteries. Described by Claire Roberts, ‘while the views were most probably the result of an expatriate commission, the locations and captioning suggest an appreciation of the landscape from a Chinese cultural perspective (Roberts, 2013 p45). Early Chinese photographers used a contemporary medium and an aesthetic informed by Chinese literary to created authentic photographs and reach its scale in the 1920s and 1930s. However, until recently, landscape as a genre re-emerged in Chinese contemporary photography after many years of modern transition. Urbanization has accelerated the growth of cities in China to become the most influential force altering China’s metropolitan culture. As mentioned before, Yao Lu and Yang Yongliang, among other Chinese contemporary photographers, both use digital photographic technologies to recreate Chinese landscape painting. Gu Zhen observed: ‘create an entirely new visual effect and evoking a rethinking of urbanization and modernity’ (Gu, 2011 p210).

Photography by Yang Yongliang, Stock World from Viridescence series, 2009
Photography by Yang Yongliang, Stock World from Viridescence series, 2009

Indeed, the photographic practice of Zhang Jin and Taca Sui is not only a continuation of the traditions of Chinese landscape photography, but it also suits the niche market of the Contemporary Chinese photography industry. To admit that photography is a vital part of Chinese contemporary art practice, which only established its own market in the end of the last century. During the last decade, Chinese conceptual photography has played a vital role in the Chinese contemporary photography market, partly because the demand for international buyers has continued to rise. However, the problem lies with the fact that the highly priced Chinese conceptual photographs have no impact on the market, due to lack of an adequate support system. By the end of 2008, there have been many Chinese conceptual photography artists who have shifted their focus towards painting and installation art.

After 2009, Chinese photography critics, buyers and gallery owners began shifting their focus from conceptual art to authentic photography. In order to promote Chinese photography and improve the domestic market, many photographic galleries in China launched different strategies to encourage new talent with different photographic practice.

Taca Sui, whose stylish black & white photo series first appeared in the 2010 Lianzhou International Photography Festival, soon attracted a lot of attention to photography critics and dealers. As Zhuo Can commented on Odes: ‘the most valuable contribution of Odes in Chinese contemporary photography is——interlingual practices and translation of New Topographic texts into contemporary China’ (Zhai, 2011). Meanwhile, authentic black and white photographic prints are highly appreciated in the Chinese photography market. Instead of making hundreds of digital prints, Taca Sui is a true genius of making platinum and silver gelatin prints. He smartly selected grey in the work Odes to acknowledge Chinese traditions of Shan Shui painting by presenting a timeless image in the fast changing Chinese society. While black & white photography has been the obvious medium for Zhang Jin’s photo series, his photograph of the Silk Road is a fascinating syncretic cultural product, reflecting on the connection between past and present in the remote northwest of China.

Recently, Zhang Jin and Taca Sui’s work can be seen in numerous magazines and book publications as well as individual and group exhibitions in China, Japan and US that give viewers a whole new perspective on contemporary Chinese landscape photography.

V. Conclusion
If this essay has any future use, it will form part of my Chinese landscape photography study. Landscape, as a genre, has generally not yet been discussed in the history of Chinese photography. Yet Chinese young photographers persist in exploring areas in terms of histories and geographies, focusing on the interaction of humans, the environment and on Chinese aesthetics. Meanwhile, as a photographer, landscape is very much related to my own practice. It brings together my ideas and research on this issue. Above all, I hope to show my reader the current trends in Chinese landscape photography. I must stress that this essay is just an overview. There are many photographers whose body of work have influenced my thinking, but whose work is not specifically referenced – the range of examples of practices is simply too expensive to be encompassed in a short essay.

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