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Artist Statement

On Their Sites

Landscapes with Private Monuments
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I believe that some seemingly inconsequential personal memories stir people more frequently than significant historical events do. I also believe that most people's lives appear completely uneventful to others. At the end of 2006, after reading for the second time Joel Sternfeld's On This Site, a book juxtaposing landscape photographs with texts about a series of tragic events in American collective memory, I decided to make a book for another type of memories. I started photographing the sites where people's private memories were attached, recording memories that might be meaningful only to their owners.

Although "image-text" has not been a fantastic new idea, it naturally becomes a tool for a project that borrows a form of communication from tourism, — on the Lion's Mound, looking down at the lush plain, the battlefield Waterloo, where the topography has changed long ago, the guide counts the 47,000 dead or wounded and then the tourists sigh. The form helps to construct the project and to query the difference of reliability and significance to treat depictions of collective/public memory and individual/private memory as both of them are recorded in detail.

The ongoing project has also given me a chance to revisit this experience. One unconsciously seeks an awareness of being anchored. By attaching memories to places or objects where he/she settles or tarries, one builds the relationship of mutual recognition and confirmation with the world. An intersection, a mailbox or a tiny thorn therefore becomes his/her vessel of private memory or monument of personal history. I was amazed by some details while recording for this growing collection and was finally convinced that they had been or would be the irrefutable evidence of one's life in his/her memory.

To simulate the look of uneventful lives, I waited for sunny days to photograph on the sites where various intimate memories were interspersed, hoping to avoid painting the images with the likely mawkish photographic expressions of a know-it-all. 4"x5" film, as deep depth of field as possible, wide framing, nonhierarchical composition, by which I offered audience a chance to retrace the artist's searching and, thereby, his imagination. When brightening the upper midtones, lowering its contrast, the highly detailed realistic sun drenched images were washed down, which offered me a world of memory, of lucid dreams. However, I cannot tell to whom the dreams belong.

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