I’ve discovered that I can use photography—a modern visual technology and medium—to represent ideals in traditional Chinese art.”

Born Wuxi, Jiangsu, 1964

Photography, for Miao Xiaochun, is the best way “to reflect China’s changes”. But though he uses computers to create his digital panoramas and his more recent 3D works, he does so with an eye firmly fixed on tradition. In an early series, he inserted into each photo a statue of himself as an ancient scholar. He approaches his medium as if it were painting, he says. “Although I’m not using traditional brush and paper, I can certainly employ traditional concepts and aesthetic principles.” While the scenes Miao Xiaochun captures are man-made and modern—bus stations, building sites and urban streets—he presents them in the style of landscape paintings, flattening the perspective and assembling dozens of snapshots into seamless “scrolls” that can be viewed either as a whole or one section at a time. Inter-Nation (2004) and Await (2006) show people at bus and train stations, watched over by billboards for fashions and phones. Crowds—the hustling, random collectives of capitalism—are here arrested, motionless, and oddly vulnerable.

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