Quiet and lonely
- Photography as in between movement and stillness
Su Shi in the second part of the Red Cliff Rhapsody uses the word Silence to describe the activities observed at night on the river banks. Everything around him is extremely quiet, when he sees a solitary singing crane: the bird’s voice suddenly appears in Su Shi depiction of the natural context, breaking the calm and flatness of the silent environment and opening up an uncovered sensorial space both for the poet and the reader.
When Wang Tao initially started shooting the series Solitary Landscape, in the beginning no external voice appeared in the photographs, no sound could be communicated through the surface of the picture. The photographer used to focus on the silent movement of the clouds on the rocks. Later he realized static is always constructed on the alternation with movement, and no sound can happen if not surrounded by the silence. That’s why Wang Tao, in addition to the mountain, began to pay attention to the flowing of water, in addition to static also began to care about how things move, in addition to the silent stone began to get inspired by the flow of rivers: after all, both of these elements are indispensable in nature, which has the ability to harmoniously accommodate them with each other to generate visually satisfying elements.
In the context of Buddhism, silence is often associated with a special comprehension of existence, intended as the ideal world detached from life and death (Nirvana). When such a silence is reached, and the wheel of the Samsara is left, the cycle of reincarnation is interrupted, and the illuminated no longer hear any voice from daily life, they do not feel ordinary people's desires, their soul is eradicated from pain and trouble, it founds itself in in peace preserving an inaction state.
As a media, photography reveals its essence is the transformation from dynamic into static: the always changing is transformed in a dead (not moving) figure, the shapes captured on the film are then transferred on the silver salt paper, where the image becomes permanent. As a human beings who enters the state of Nirvana, once the photographic shoot is completed, it is rarely likely to be affected by the influence of the extern world, and it’s going to exist on another level of visuality, detached but still participating of reality. When working on his series Solitary Landscape, photographer Wang Tao is inspired tantamount by the two static and dynamic, alive and dead, physical and metaphysical features of the landscape, through which he tries to establish a communication with himself.
In the photographs, mountains represent the level of the land, while the connection with Buddhism refers to the level of the heaven. In addition, photos also lend to a third level of interpretation, focused on humanity. During the long process of observation and shooting of Huang mountain, the individual’s hearts feels overwhelmed by the Kantian sensation of the sublime, and finds itself as a weak and lonely creature. The series shows the ups and downs regulating the nature: when the loneliness of the human is interrupted by the invasion of the external world which breaks its silent breathing with a sound, it is time for the human to go back to reality.
Photography always originates between two or more opposed states. Photographers choose to use the camera to record the journey that took them from one step to the second step of a journey: Wang Tao’s photography takes him from the floating clouds to the black and white image contours delineated on the photo paper, from the flow of water into the impression on a transparent film, from the loneliness of the human heart into the permanent existence of a material image in the world.
Giulia Pra Floriani