I'm struggling to find the time to catalog my experience in Shanghai last month, in both w0rd and image. Working on drawings, paintings and textual notations; confident of a good product in coming months, but also desirous of capturing the experience in parallel forms, too. I shoot photographs for a variety of purposes, as I have reflected previously. January in Shanghai in a cold winter–high 30s Fahrenheit, unheated buildings, people in 9 layers of clothing, visible breath indoors–is not, to say the least, an ideal environment for onsite drawing, not to mention the gawk factor of the +6 footer redhead thing–heightened my reliance on photography as a recording tool.
These photographs were all taken on a cold-ass night along the Bund, the European-inflected promenade in Shanghai, captured in art deco architecture, which gazes across the Huangpu River at Pudong, formerly an encampment of whorehouses and poverty, razed circa 1990 and replaced by Jetsons architecture and a Disney sensibility, most prominently captured by the Pearl TV Tower, shown at the top of this post in poor focus. (Diagram that sentence.) Somehow the blur captured the weirdness better than proper pictures.
What a crazy place. The river traffic on the Huangpu, especially for a denizen of St. Louis, suggested a 21st century Huck Finn view of China, barges three abreast in both directions, replaced after dark by wacky sightseeing boats wrapped in neon.
The spectacle of buildings-as-screens (Indy cars and tropical fish zoomed and swam, respectively, across this building, alternating with bizarre, infantilizing graphic elements like the happy symbol-TV shown here, 40 or 60 stories tall) stupefies in two senses: as pure advanced opticality, and a contrast with underwear and blankets draped over clotheslines to dry on city streets. A common spectacle of a different sort altogether. Again, a crazy place...