What I mostly notice and think are the things on the back of how people are living in this digital era when we make and receive loads of information by computer and phone every day every moment. We live in a world where you get used to take electric waves as the real sounds of the world like your mom’s voice in phone, take an organization of pixels on the screen as a real person when you chat with someone on Skype, we all have many virtual IDs etc. We create albums- upload our pictures anytime we like randomly, and share and comment on social networks, this is the big carnival we all share every minute. This is a time of freedom and also a time of loss and confuse. I capture the moment around me and create my photos in this way, as how the world is going on at this moment-chaos by chaos on a seemingly active order.
Born 1989, based in Beijing, graduated with BA Media and Communication from Beijing Normal University, 2012; MA Photography from London College of Communication, 2014. Wu’s photography focuses on virtuality and the relationship between people and life. He has won several national prizes in computer programming and graphic design in China, he was the winner of Photoworks Prize in 2013 (UK), cooperates with Yellowkorner Gallery (Paris) for years. His works have been exhibited in China, UK, France and USA, and he has published more than 350 essays on photography in Photoworld.
After staying for almost four years in Walla Walla, a rather typical American town, I thought I couldn’t be more familiar with the streets and landscape here: clean and organized, but also repetitive and unexciting. Domestic Nightscape is an attempt of me to view this place again with my camera. Earlier, photography could be my reason or motivation of viewing, or the method by which I share my vision. However, in this project, photography has become my only way of seeing—my eyes are not capable of long-exposure on a single frame to achieve more information, but camera can capture and magnify the contrast among different light sources’ luminosity and the interweaving of colors.
In daylight those quiet blocks and middle-class tract houses could be dreary and mind numbing, but they are now surrealistically rendered. Their original materiality starts to become abstract till the moment when it’s perfectly balanced—as architectures, when their exterior structures and lines are more explicit, especially when some elements are highlighted and penetrated by indoor artificial lights, they are also closer to pure geometric shapes.At meantime, I hope viewers will skip the photographer and read images directly, and only in this way could viewers understand the elements in the image based on their own personal experience (for example, would the indoor light cause the sense of security or alienation? ). Therefore, although I can never peel my subjective vision off when I look through the viewfinder, I still attempt to hide these purposed visual choices by presenting a relatively calm composition and allowing a space to breath between the viewers and the images (although this behavior might actually be the nature of subjectivity).
I hope these images with realistic details and surrealistic renderings will not only be visually attractive to audiences who have never personally experienced it, but also push them further and let them approach curiously to the meaning and emotions of lights, as the strongest visual charge of these houses, the evidence of the existence of human in the images, and the essence of photography.
‘I like amusing atmosphere, not just the inner city but also people’s emotions.’ said by Cao Di for his one and only publication: Inner City.
As Walter Benjamin described, Flâneur– a figure of modern urban spectator–is an alienation of capitalistic city. He is no longer a human being but an invisible role hidden in crowd. The same as Cao’s situation, his works have never been shown in any exhibitions or galleries. It becomes a really personal observation to the city and life he lives in.
Cao’s pictures are like his collection. The targets in his pictures including passerby, advertisement leaflets, slogans on the wall etc, they are very normal images that we can see everyday. Cao said he find them very interesting so he took pictures of them. ‘I felt I occupied them, just like collecting stuff. They became mine when I press the shutter.’
As an amateur photographer, Cao described taking pictures as a way of seeking the answers. ‘ For example, I don’t know why I live so I shoot. After taking, I still have no idea but at least I got an excuse. Photography is my excuse for living.’
In his book Inner City, you can see a lot of ‘non-sense’ pictures. They don’t have a deep meaning or hint hide behind them. They are the most honest depiction of the city, almost bored the audiences because they are the view we see everyday through our eyes. But at the same time, the photographer does manage to add a fantasy in. Like the red shoes on a middle-aged woman’s feet, a sky-liked billboard behind a sitting man, a cartoon bag carried by an old man, they are quite amusing and even funky if we take a serious look on them. The reason why we ignore them is numb. We have seen too much in this city so we lost out sensitivity, and thanks for photographer like Cao Di, bring back his Flâneur’s observation for us.
As the youngest photographer, Weixi Lin was invited to attend “Beyond One Step” Biennale (2013) in Derby Museum, UK, and Lishui International Photography Festival (2013). The photography series exhibited was this project Moments in Time taken by phones.
Why does it have to be phone photography? Her answer is headstrong, but honest, “Cameras could not reach the speed of catching anything inspired in very short moments, but smartphones do. Also, the phone I am holding all the time, recording any moment impressing me, deciding the colors and frame sizes emotionally, helps me to remember how I was in that moment – this is why my project’s name is Moments in Time. Specially, when recording has become an irreplaceable part of my life, tools don’t matter anymore.”
It minds me how Walter Benjamin disputed the futile thoughts about the question of whether photography is an art in nineteenth-century – The primary question — whether the very invention of photography had not transformed the entire nature of art — was not raised. I bet he could never imagine the fashion of phone photography has brought a historic impact on camera photography. Do not agree? See how many complaints are there in social networks since Instagram has been censored.
If compare human eyes to a camera, this could be the one with 576 million pixels， an absolute extreme value. This is the reason why our visual experience is always ahead of other senses. How to capture this experience in the most immediate way? Nothing could compare the smartphone you are holding in hands all the time, just as Weixi Lin mentioned in her interview.
What She Was Looking For – this has been the main question along with me when I look at this group of photographs. Perhaps she did not sense it and never tried to put this “Looking For” in her shooting schedule. It seems that kinds of strong subconscious invests with power and innocence in Lin’s photography — the unbalanced junction, boundless ocean, strangers’ backs, shape of filament, snow traces, withered branches, reflective shoes standing on the bloody floor, bottomless swirl, etc. She has broken the boundaries between one project corresponds to one content or narrative, which is like puzzle pieces, as long as you put them together, the whole story of life makes sense.
“Moments in Time” was mainly taken in a very critical year of Lin’s. In that year, Lin lost one of most important person in life. With the huge sense of sadness and emptiness, she started over in a completely new country immediately. Precisely because of the fear of attacking by blank, she has to shoot and record constantly, trying the best to refill the black hole in heart, and to tidy up the fleeting moments in life. The most attractive part of this phone photography project is that Lin hangs herself in whether high saturation color photographs or high contract black and white pictures to express the struggles and fights she has been going through with strong emotions.
Maybe the one she has been looking for — is just self.
WEIXI LIN is a photographer who was born in 1990, based in Hangzhou, China. Graduated in Nottingham Trent University, MA Photography, 2012, Weixi Lin has been exploring photography and installation art with practice and critical thinking. She worked as an editor and book designer in Zhejiang Photographic Press.