A Wind of Yesterday
Yan Shu, one of the most noted litterateurs in Northern Song dynasty, wrote a line which endured through ages: “Last night, the west wind withered green trees. Ascending the tall building alone, I had a full view of the road that stretched far way.” A modern scholar Wang Guowei once cited this sentence as a metaphor to describe the mental state that one had to go through in order to be successful.
The reason why so many Chinese people love this line is because there is a vivid dichotomy in it: the withered trees remind people that time is fleeting. However, seen from a distance, the depressed scene is but only one part of the view. Long as the way is, people will keep on searching the unknown.
Digital Pictorial Photography “A Wind from Yesterday” presents a similar tension: the image of euphrates poplar, a plant that grows in northwest China, is displayed on a page made from woodblock printing in Song Dynasty. People can sense a vitality which has lasted for over a thousand years. The truth is that withered euphrates poplars stubbornly stand in the desert. Books of Song woodblock printing are regarded as priceless cultural heritages by Chinese people for their complicated and exquisite craftsmanship. Two seemingly lifeless old forms are brought back to life in superposition, which conveys the very aesthetic purpose of postmodernism. History is not always heavy and depressing, it can also be fresh. I capture a glimpse of the history, but the final aim is to direct our attention to the future.