Mindscape: An Epic Vision (2002)

Although the accompanying color plates, as well as those published in recent years, are commonly identified as “photography,” their viewers typically label them works of a more abstract nature, such as paintings, ink on paper, collages and prints. However, I am most comfortable when they are seen as autobiographical portraits, facsimiles of faith or life’s anecdotes and punctuated memories. They are simply reflections of the soul and inscriptions of the heart.

Professor Pao-teh Han, whose critical essays have graced a number of my publications, has once again spared no effort in analyzing and theorizing the basis of my artistic creations from his unique historical perspective and all-encompassing macro vision. I am indebted to him for the profiling of my works, from background and motivation to conception and aspiration. My deepest gratitude and appreciation are extended to Professor Han.

But I have an unabashed confession to make. Intuitively and subconsciously, I believe my life is helplessly intertwined with that of my wife and partner, Jean. My mental activities and creative efforts are the natural offspring of our predestined union. Overcoming mediocrity and adversity, we journey together in the search for the meaning of life in quietude; through mutual criticism and support, we progress and accumulate invaluable insights. Ultimately, it is about the celebration of upholding our innocence and ideals despite physical fatigue and spiritual drain as well as the absence of financial viability.

Photography is just one of the creative media and expressive modes that I am rather familiar with. It is in the domain of abstraction, as with painting, sculpture and architecture, where ideas and visions roam freely. It is my conviction that in an ideal world – where an abundance of energy, an uncompromising will, surging aspirations and prolific output are evident – an artist of total dedication can perform miracles. Each movement, gesture, and spoken and written word resonates with nature’s vital flow and rhythmic pulsation. Concepts and fancy become self-propelled and self-improvised. The practice of photography is no exception.

My own practice involves basic equipment – camera, lens, film – and some degree of coincidence – being where one is supposed to be. It is a leisurely and carefree process in which each street and back alley is covered, and every direction is scanned. It is a pilgrimage of the unknown and of discovery. In this expedition, the body becomes oblivious to bitter and sweet sensations, and forgets thirst and hunger. Incidental and accidental encounters are blessed with fond memories and lasting impressions.

I alternate between micro vision and macro vision by devoting one day to photography and the next to drawing. Days are consumed by nonstop surveying on foot. Nights are reserved for rejuvenating bathing and sober musing. The mind unfolds to a vast landscape interspersed with threads of melancholy.

There are valuable lessons to be learned every place I venture, be it tiny village or great metropolis. From physical labor to spiritual liberation, it is a most satisfying, therapeutic recreation. Capturing memorable images is only an added benefit. The experience becomes not only a voyage in the broadening of the senses, but a temporal and spatial journey confronting destiny.

As such, I feel I have lived.

Sun-chang Lo