Photography and Culture Volume 15, 2022 - Issue 3: Theorizing New Photographies in China
Pages 297-301 | Received 02 Jun 2022, Accepted 04 Jul 2022, Published online: 29 Jul 2022
Inspired by the ancient Chinese canonical poetry anthology The Book of Odes (Shijing), the photographer Taca Sui created the Odes (Shishan hekao) series through textual research and field investigation. While the poems in The Book of Odes depict the natural landscape and social environment of the Zhou Dynasty and the thoughts and feelings of ancient people, the Odes seeks Chinese cultural roots and, in retrospect, reveals the tension between historical contemplation and present aliveness. By highlighting one plate entitled “Chou Feng Series, Lamb” from the Odes project, this essay aims to shed light on several points regarding the photographer’s working mode, as well as the underlying paradoxical ways of seeing. He attempts to stagnate the historicity in The Book of Odes with photography. However, history itself is in constant movement and this dimension of motion cannot be eliminated. The photographer tries to approach the present at close quarters, but the historical gaze has already saturated the artist’s work. These tensions in Taca’s photography imply that photographic images, as one of the most contemporary forms of media, hold the possibility of resisting time.
Keywords: Landscape photography, Lamb image, The Book of Odes, Ancient China, Contemporary media
Luo Yueqin is a PhD candidate at the School of Arts, Peking University. Her research focuses on art theory and media theory, with interests in issues of mediality and automaticity in contemporary photography, as well as the involvement of archaeology and anthropology in art and its study.