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Beginnings: In the past thirty years, China, Shanghai in particular, has seen great development, one of the greatest shifts in thousands of years. But one must never forget why he set out in the first place, simply because he went too far. In this large scale urban reconstruction, many things have been lost, to the point that many people have begun to ask, where did we come from? What are we doing? Where are we going? Thus, we need to use artistic methods to connect those disappeared memories of the city, to explore those meaningful tangents in this cultural rift.
Concept: I have always wanted to seek out a certain philosophical relationship between the majority and the minority. This relationship seems to figure importantly in modern Chinese history. Our photo shoot this time is split into three historical phases: the black-and-white Republican era, the red classic era and the golden contemporary era. During the black-and-white Republican era, a minority of foreigners and Chinese compradors influenced the majority through their modern lifestyle. In the red classic era, the ideals of a minority were realized through the majority, and the foundation was laid for today’s soaring growth. The golden contemporary era is one where minorities and majorities influence each other and depend on each other, realizing the Chinese dream of economic strength.
Methods: This photography project mainly employs three methods. The first is capture photography. What is capture photography? In this method, we have our actors and extras randomly play out their assigned roles in a chosen setting, and when they reach the desired effect, we order them to freeze. We then make slight adjustments in positioning for greatest effect, repeating the process several times until we are satisfied enough to take the picture. This method allows for a union between people and place, creating a vivid image rather than a dull, arranged effect. The second is the living news drama method. The “living news drama” is a dramatic form with its roots in Shanghai opera. It arose in the years of Japanese occupation, when Shanghai leftists, aware that much of their audience was illiterate, produced plays to promote the resistance against Japan. Today, we use this method to act out the stories in their various settings and to interact with audiences to effect a passage to history, creating a cultural image of Shanghai past and present. The third method is both real and virtual, akin to the regular, cursive and wild scripts of Chinese calligraphy. Global photography today always pursues super-realism and fineness, like the regular script of Chinese calligraphy. We use varying speeds and actors to create photographic images that rest somewhere between the real and virtual, much like the cursive script of calligraphy, in an expression of our pursuit of history and the memories of a city.
- Chen JiaGang
Limited edition of 600 copies.
An epic production by Editions Bessard in this large oversize book featuring gatefolds throughout.