A Splendid Jiang-Hu
Any new medium of expression, soon after its emergence, will rapidly derive a corresponding system and power structure, and then moves from boom into rigidity and decay. Such system and power structure can be accurately expressed in the Chinese language as ‘Jiang-Hu’ (‘River and Lake’). Jiang-Hu is originally a geographical ideogram, but once it is applied to the political relationship in the human society, it will become a hyper-metaphor for unlimited interpretation and association. Jiang-Hu is the society, Jiang-Hu is the world. In all kinds of Jiang-Hu, big or small, people come and go in a web of game playing, which reflects the social landscape and inextricable interrelationship of the world. Photography is the medium, so it has its own Jiang-Hu, in which case, the new Jiang-Hu is always overwhelming the old Jiang-Hu, because the new one has more power.
In 1999, a photo forum named ‘Jiang-Hu-Se’ appeared in the young internet world of China. The birth of Jiang-Hu-Se is actually a result of an incidence online and such birth is a logical outcome of life on internet which originated from talkativeness, excitement and liberty. A group of people, walking out of the Stone Richwin BBS Photo Channel, the first photo forum in China later renamed Sina Photo forum, bide farewell to confinement of only discussing camera and equipments and began their photographic new journey as Members at ‘Jiang-Hu-Se’, exploring the meaning of photography by critiquing each others’ photographic works.
The unique mode of democratic centralism at ‘Jiang-Hu-Se’ provides a guarantee to undistracted and sophisticated discussion on photography, which was hailed as an advanced means of online interaction. This has added fresh impetus to the advancement of photographic culture, which is further consolidated by the heated debates on pros and cons of ‘beaux arts photos’. All these have paved the way for the ultimate transformation and construction of a multi-value photographic concept. In so doing, ‘Jiang-Hu-Se’, from the very beginning, has exhibited a dynamic vitality, entirely different from the traditional medium, and exerted an enormous power pushing the democratic diffusion of photographic culture in today’s new age.
The emphasis on down-to-earth photo practice and candid exchange of views has made ‘Jiang-Hu-Se’ an ‘incubator’ for many artists and photographers who have become successful and influential in the photographic circle.
‘Jiang-Hu-Se’ is undeniably an important and splendid chapter in China’s contemporary photographic history, and it will surely remain as path-blazing footprints for future generations to look back.
12 April 2009