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Photo-Walking Shanghai (Ongoing Project)

Metropolis is a significant symbol of the development of human civilization, the urban environment is not just the collection of architecture, cultural environment is also a very important part in the modern city. American philosopher Mumford indicated the role of the modern city, "In the transformation of the environment, architecture has a particular part of play. This arises not merely because buildings constitute such a large part of man's daily surroundings; but because architecture reflects and focuses such a wide variety of social facts: The character and resources of the natural environments, the state of the industrial arts and the empirical tradition and processes of social organization and association, and the beliefs and world-outlooks of a whole society." (Mumford, 1938) For Mumford, the invisible culture is the soul of a modern city.


In the 1950s, the avant-garde artistic and political group Situationist International (SI) created the concept of Psychogeography and the method of 'Derive' (means drifting), they employed the practice of walking through the city as a means to explore and transform everyday life in the city. As the key figure of SI, Guy Debord believed that modern society has become "a society of the spectacle", composed of unreal needs and desires, according to Debord: "the spectacle is both the result and the project of the present mode of production. It is not a mere supplement or decoration added to the real world, it is the heart of this real society's unreality. In all of its particular manifestations—news propaganda, advertising, entertainment—the spectacle is the model of the prevailing way of life " For Debord, the ideology in modern society has been manipulated by ruling class, the commodity relations have extended to every part of our everyday life, and controlled all the social life.


"Photo-Walking Shanghai" was inspired by these in-depth thinking regarding the cultural and humanistic aspects in the modern city. This project tries to rediscover the city of Shanghai with a psychogeographical perspective. Where I have lived for two decades and witnessed a significant urban transformation. The great changes are not only the rising of skyline buildings but also the way people living. Through my visual investigation of the urban environment, I want to present a new way to communicate with the city, to explore the new meaning of everyday life and question the loss of tradition in China.

The main body of this project is a triptych of three 5-minute videos, which is comprised of one vehicle camera video, one city wandering video, and one cyberspace wandering. They will be made as a video installation, the viewer can also watch the triple videos through VR glass to get an immersive visual result. Besides the video installation, there are 10 collage works. The main resources of collage work are select from the video clip, which I think represents the critical concept of this project. The best place to present this project is a gallery space, but that is still in an uncertain situation.

Ultimately this project intends to provide a continuous inquiry to the viewers, ask them to draw attention to the invisible but most important part of the city, to find the real feature of the mordern city in China.

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