Tag Archives: China

Photographs of Empty and Abandoned Amusement Parks Explore China’s Architecture of Leisure

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Shijingshang Park-Beijing, all images by Stefano Cerio

In Stefano Cerio's series “Chinese Fun,” he explores the facades of amusement without an audience’s reaction. The photographer enters areas built for fun and leisure in the off months or closing hours, exploring the absurdity that creeps into the architecture of entertainment when there is no one to enjoy it but a single camera.

Within the series the Italian photographer explores amusement parks, water landscapes, and sports grounds set in front of the background of gray skies and atop rain-soaked cement. The images were taken in the four cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, and Hong Kong, and show a colorfully decorated food stand with an anthropomorphic hamburger, an overflowing basket of fruit the size of a car, and various rides that look like absurdist pieces of architecture when not in use.

Cerio’s photographic work has increasingly focused on the theme of representation, and he explains his work as “exploring the boundary line between vision, recounting the real and the spectator’s horizon of expectation, [and] the staging of a possible reality that might not be true but is at least plausible.” Through these examples he views places of leisure as “the other,” locations built for the suspension of day-to-day life.

Some of Cerio’s works will be included in the Fondazione Volume! in Rome from September 23 to November 3 and a composite book of this series, Stefano Cerio: Chinese Fun, is available in the US starting tomorrow. (via Hyperallergic)

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Treausure Island PirateKingdom-Qingdao

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Shilaoren Bathing Beach-Qingdao

Shilaoren Bathing Beach-Qingdao

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Shanghai Happy Valley-Shanghai

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Tuanjiehu Park-Beijing

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Water Cube-Beijing

Polar Ocean Park-Qingdao

Polar Ocean Park-Qingdao

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Artist Cai Guo­-Qiang Sends a 500-Meter Ladder of Fire into the Sky Above China

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Sky Ladder, realized at Huiyu Island Harbour, Quanzhou, Fujian, June 15, 2015 at 4:49 am, approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Photos by Lin Yi & Wen-You Cai, courtesy Cai Studio.

In the early morning hours of June 15, a huge white balloon filled with 6,200 cubic meters of helium slowly ascended into the sky above Huiyu Island Harbour, Quanzhou, China. Attached to it was a 500-meter long ladder coated completely with quick burning fuses and gold fireworks that was then ignighted by artist Cai Guo­-Qiang (previously) who has become known for his ambitious pyrotechnic artworks.

Titled Sky Ladder, the piece burned for approxmiately 2 minutes and 30 seconds above the harbor and was the fourth and final attempt to realize the performance. Guo­-Qiang had earlier attempted Sky Ladder in Bath (1994), Shanghai (2001), and in Los Angeles (2012), to varying degrees of success, but never considered his vision complete until now. He first imagined a ladder of fire as a child and has pursued the idea for 21 years. He shares about this last successful iteration of the event:

Behind Sky Ladder lies a clear childhood dream of mine. Despite all life’s twists and turns, I have always been determined to realize it. My earlier proposals were either more abstract or ceremonial. Sky Ladder today is tender, and touches my heart deeply: it carries affection for my hometown, my relatives and my friends. In contrast to my other attempts, which set the ignition time at dusk, this time the ladder rose toward the morning sun, carrying hope. For me, this not only means a return but also the start of a new journey.

Unfortunately there’s no official video of the performance available yet, but a few shaky cell phone videos have emerged. You can see more images of the performance on the artist’s website. All photos by Lin Yi and Wen-You Cai courtesy Cai Studio. (via Booooooom)

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The World’s Oldest Multicolored Printed Book Has Been Opened and Digitized for the First Time

All images courtesy Cambridge University Library

All images courtesy of Cambridge University Library

The earliest example of multicolor printing is now available for the public eye, digitally available through Cambridge University Library’s Digital Library site. The 17th century book, Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu), is so fragile that it was previously forbidden to be opened, its contents a total mystery before its recent digitization.

The book was created in 1633 by Ten Bamboo Studio and is the earliest known example of polychrome xylography, invented by Hu Zhengyan. The technique, also referred to as douban, uses several printing blocks applied in succession with different inks to achieve the appearance of a hand-painted watercolor. The Cambridge site explains that the although the skill required to achieve such douban prints is admirable, the gradations of color within the book are what led to its reputation as “perhaps the most beautiful set of prints ever made.”

The manual contains eight categories showcasing birds, plumbs, orchids, bamboos, fruit, stones, ink drawings and miscellany. All of these sections of the manual are contained in the original “butterfly binding,” and has been identified to be the finest copy in the original binding by a leading scholar.

In addition to Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu, the library has also digitized other selections from its Chinese collections including the oracle bones (the earliest surviving examples of Chinese writing anywhere in the world), a Buddhist text dated between 1127 and 1175, and a 14th century banknote that threatens forgers with decapitation. (via Hyperallergic)

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Uncanny Moments on the Streets of China Photographed by Water Meter Reader Tao Liu

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The 32-year old Tao Liu knows the city of Hefei like his backyard. Since 2005 he’s traveled up, down and across the city in Eastern China on his motorbike reading water meters for a local utilities company. The job was tedious, exhausting and unrewarding, until he picked up a camera.

For the past 3 years Liu has used his spare time to capture intimate, witty and humorous street photos of Hefei. “I like taking photos because I can hang around on the streets and capture an image when something interested me but was neglected by others,” Liu told the Global Times. “I want to remind people of the touching moments in life.” He was interviewed after his photos went viral on China’s social network Weibo.

Liu has no formal training in photography but cites Daido Moriyama – often referred to as “the father of street photography” – as a primary influence. “I found him [to be] a very focused photographer,” says Liu in an interview with TIME. “I chose my camera based on what he uses.” Liu’s photos, intentionally or not, seem to poke fun at things like commercialization and urbanization. Liu clearly has a knack, not only for being in the right place at the right time, but for a keen eye that spots charming, serendipitous scenes amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can keep up with him and his work on Lofter. All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Time)

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Hu Shaoming’s Mechanical Sculptures of Time and Civilization

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Hu Shaoming is a young Chinese sculptor and graduate of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. With a deft mastery of metal he creates intricate sculptures that are surreal and dreamlike, but also somewhat cautionary. As part of his city series Shaoming created a mechanical seahorse that appears submerged in water. The exposed top of its head is burdened by a beautiful, metallic civilization, creating a fascinating and treacherous balance between man and nature.

In a different series on time Shaoming appropriates artifacts of industrial civilization like old cameras and telephones. Effectively destroying the mechanism, he disassembles them and then rebuilds them but with a zipper that offers glimpses into what makes them tick. You can see more of his work over on the Chinese portfolio site Jue.so. (via Steampunk Tendencies)

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Porcelain Busts Imprinted with Chinese Decorative Designs by Ah Xian

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Chinese artist Ah Xian lives and works in Sydney where for nearly two decades he has explored aspects of the human form using ancient Chinese craft methods including porcelain, lacquer, jase, bronze, and even concrete. The artist often uses busts of his own family members including his wife, brother, and father onto which he imprints traditional designs with a vivid cobalt blue glaze. Via Asia Society:

These sculptures by Ah Xian establish a series of multilayered oppositions. The most overt is the tension between the sculptural form of the bust and the painted surface designs, which the artist likens to the oppositions of West and East. The bust is part of a Western portraiture tradition dating back to the busts of ancient Roman times and the designs are derived from Chinese decorative traditions, unique to China and in some cases to the studio-kilns at Jingdezhen. Such an opposition can also be seen as the relationship between the personal (since many of the busts are of Ah Xian’s family, including his wife, brother, and father) and the political (a statement about the artist’s own Chinese heritage articulated outside China).

The works collected here are mostly from his Human Human and China China series, though you can see many more works on Craft Australia. (via I Need a Guide)

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From the New World: A Sprawling Digital Collage of a Dystopian Future by Yang Yongliang

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From the New World, 13′ x 26′ (400cm x 800cm), Epson Ultragiclee print on Epson fine art paper

In his largest artwork to date, Chinese artist Yang Yongliang (previously here and here) just unveiled From the New World, a sprawling digital collage depicting an overpopulated, futuristic landscape completely overrun with construction, debris, and high-rise skyscrapers. The new artwork is a continuation of Yongliang’s ongoing commentary about the devastating effects of unchecked development and industrialization through the use of dense, photography-based collage. From the New World measures almost 26 feet wide (800cm) by 13 feet tall, and while it’s impossible to truly appreciate it online, you can see many more detail shots over on his website.

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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From the New World, detail

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