ARTICLES & SCRIPT ❖ Greetings from contraction-An interior letter (2020) Zhou Junsheng | ❖ Text for \U+671F\U+671B = expect (2020) Zhou Junsheng | ❖ Text for Kontact IV-A Closer Kontact of Photographs of British Algae (2019) A.A. | ❖ Text for Kontact-ISO (2019) Zhou Junsheng | ❖ Text for Kontact-Target (2019) Zhou Junsheng | ❖ Text k výstavě “Xing Ying Shen” Zhou Junshenga v galerii Velryba (2015) Jan Kolský | ❖ Beyond the Horizon of Things (Originally published in "Fotograf Magazine #24 seeing is believing" 2014) Jan Kolský
Greetings from contraction / An interior letter (Dec 2020)
When this email reaches you, it means I have been away and just safely landed over the destination after a long journey.
Simultaneously, QSG had also just been finishing the collapse, the contraction drawing its existence inward toward the time-space imager REF-00 that remaining behind the closed studio silently, —named after the term reflector, a VI imaging instrument built from the remnant of QSG's supplies and activities. The instrument's mission is to realize a better operating of the VI scripts which has been developed lately within the same light-field which it applied previously. To complete a program testing within the whole tropical year all the way through its starting point to the targeted termination at the time that the light and shadow take to return to the same position in the cycle of the yearly environments, which is quite a challenge.
For realizing the challenge, I am also very glad to inform you that, as a collaboration, Eloise Sweetman with her activities is moved into the space where REF-00 is operating. For reaching out the mission, Eloise is going to help me look after the work, by carefully keeping the installation remained well and its operating system functioning properly, documenting and recording the essential data for a future study. More importantly, during the unfolding of the process, together we will form out and improve its instruction scripting through our necessary reaction to the operational matters. At this moment what is called collapse, a new formation of the space is being established through this collaboration. Under the reflector's radiation, within this region, our reflection and story are gradually gathering.
As a part of the Close Studio · Part 3-Future Continuous, this work will open to the audience in a right time when the outside gets ready.
We shall meet again,
Till then take good care.
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Text for \U+671F\U+671B = expect (Sep 2020)
Just now, QSG started its moving moment. It is the moment to see the space for the last time. On the blurred moving boundary where the past and the future meet, I am also very proud to announce that, after its long journey of development, the new digital work of Vegetating Image is completing, EXPC-00.PROTOTYPE, named after the term expected value. Through the real-time computer vision programming and a new algorithm, the apparatus is absorbing and producing, a virtual image of the total stillness of the space-time, and reflecting its environment into its own surrounding. If the VI in the past were always based on the manner of addition or multiplication, then the new process is emerged from the inversion of division.
From September 17 to October 15, the closing space will open to public. Beside with another two VI digital prototypes in operation, I will be working on packing and emptying the studio. If you happen to be free and willing to visit, you can join me to have conversation, drink some tea together, or simply look out through the apparatus, for an imaging expectation, a hope.
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Text for A Closer Kontact of Photographs of British Algae (Dec 2019)
Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impression, was a book produced by English botanist Anna Atkins between 1843 and 1853. It was made by photographic process originally called cyanotype introduced by Sir John Herschel in 1842, a process which was also the first one for the reprographic photocopying, which we call “blueprint” today. At present, about 20 complete or incomplete editions of this book are known to be in existence. Each edition is unique, differs in composition and size. The one which acquired by the Rijksmuseum is a rare example contents 307 photographs in an excellent condition.
After it was rediscovered in the 1970s, the book was often considered to be the first photographically printed and illustrated book or, the first work with photographic illustrations or, like what people called in more recent years, the first photobook. Because of Atkins’ book was given freely to her friends and colleagues, was not publicly promoted or distributed commercially, then can we also say that it was the earliest self-published photobook?
Looking at Atkins' work, it makes me wonder: How did the first photobook really look like? Who can tell that another book won't be found in next ten years, replacing the historical position of Atkins' work just like what it happened before to Talbot? Who can tell that there was no other book has photographically made before but not exist anymore? Before we start trying to get the answer of these questions, more importantly, shouldn't we first found out what “photobook” is?
A photobook is so popular today that we can find almost everywhere. But its meanings are still quite hard to be specifically defined. For example, how can we clearly tell the difference between a photobook and a photo album? Or between a photobook and an artist book made in photographic means? If we try to find the definition of the word “photobook” in a dictionary, we will probably find that it even doesn't exist in most of the dictionaries yet.
With the Atkins' book, if the concept of “photobook” did not exist when the book was made, then how can we define it? After all, if we call it a photobook, we oppose its reality, if we don't call it a photobook, we ignore the fact. Now who can quickly tell - What Is It?
Just for now, my own answer would be this.
It is a book made by blueprint; it is also a blueprint for the idea of photobook of the future.
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Text for Kontact-ISO (Jun 2019)
There was a story about the Penumbra Questioning the Shadow in Scripture of Southern Florescence. As a remark on that story, one may need to know the Penumbra from that story isn’t just the same as the word “penumbra”. Visually, and originally, it is a word coined from the combination of character U+7F54 and U+5169, a combination of ‘not’ and ‘two’, the two in the sense of a pair; it literally means ‘neither of the two’, romanized as Wang3 Liang3 and pronounced u̯ɑŋ214 li̯ɑŋ214 in Modern Standard Mandarin. Its uncertain meanings are just like its own nature of uncertainty. It is the name for a kind of spirit in water, a mythical thing, a creature, that neither exists nor doesn't; it is translated as “penumbra”, described as ‘the shadow of the shadow’, ‘the dimness which on the edge between shadow and light’ in notes by later generations. Whatever it means, it’s always referring an existence of uncertainty, of the intermediacy that in between two mutually exclusive things, between present and absent, shadow and light. That’s why Yan Fu suggested to use Wang3 Liang3 for the translation of “neuter”, as a term for grammatical gender.
The word for ‘photography’ is commonly named in the sense of “seizing shadow” in the Chinese languages. For understanding the story, one may also need to know, the Shadow who was answering the Penumbra wasn't just “shadow”. Because there was no written character alone indicating the word for ‘shadow’ in the ancient time, at the least the time when Penumbra's story was told, so the word for ‘shadow’ had to really share its written body with the one for ‘sun light’, within the single character, U+666F; it can only be an independent word for ‘shadow’ through its own pronunciation. Isn’t interesting that today people sometimes can’t really tell if an ancient text was referring ‘light’ or ‘shadow’ simply because there was no phonetic alphabet recorded? If one switches the character to its older form in the word for‘photography’, it then reverts to an ancient word, meaning “seizing (the shadow of) the sun”, describes an impression of something ‘speedy’.
In the context of photography, “ISO” refers to “ISO speed”, describes photographic film or a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher numbers of the ISO, the more light sensitive the film or the camera. Relatively, in-sensitive films or digital camera set with lower ISO numbers, requires more light to produce an image, by extending the time of exposing, or/and by increasing the opening of the aperture. As a name, “ISO” doesn’t come from anything related “light sensitivity” or “film speed”, it refers to an organization called “International Organization for Standardization”, an independent, non-governmental international organization which makes standards giving specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. But still, ISO is neither an acronym from the words “International Organization for Standardization”, like what says the organization itself, “ISO is derived from the Greek “isos”, meaning ‘equal’. ”
Still, can we simply describe what ‘equal’ means about? Two mutually exclusive things sometimes are possible logically equal to each other; just like the black and white in Reversi and Go; like the shadow and light represented in negative-positive photographic process, where the blackness is equal to the light, the clearing, the whiteness is equal to the shadow; Although shadow isn’t really equal to the light, they bring the equality together and mutually. Penumbra lies on the edge between shadow and light, where either one of them ends and begins; on the two sides of the penumbra, shadow and light are parallel to each other endlessly, like = the sign for equality; Robert Recorde created the sign ====== in his work for avoiding the repetition of the words “is equal to”, the form of the sign was made because he thought there are no two things can be more equal than a pair of parallels in the same length; perhaps, there are no two things can be more parallel than shadow and light too. Isn't an equal sign also representing a boundary?
Thousands years ago in Sicyon, when the woman was tracing the profile of her lover’s shadow on the wall, she stroked not only his shadow, but also outlined the emptiness that surrounded by the edge of light. She traced the penumbra, the boundary in between presenting and absent of her love. Shall we call it “skiagraphy”? Like the way how Talbot called his invention by himself at first time.
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Text for Kontact-Target (Apr 2019)
The Chinese word for ‘apparatus’ is pronounced ji¹ /t͡ɕi⁵⁵/ in Modern Standard Mandarin, which refers to the character U+6A5F, as its true body, a character originally meaning the ‘trigger’ of a crossbow. Not only ‘apparatus’, U+6A5F is also meaning many other kind of machine or device, like dian⁴shi⁴ji¹ ≃ ‘electronic’ + ‘seeing’ + ‘machine’ = “TV”; shou³ji¹ ≃ ‘hand(y)’ + ‘device’ = “mobile phone”; fei¹ji¹ ≃ ‘flying’ + ‘apparatus’ = “aircraft”. There are hundreds of terms are contented with this character which stand in the context of ‘apparatus’, but there is only one which out of the ordinary, an unique and mysterious one, that's the word for ‘photo apparatus’. After the long traveling in the vast realm of words, like how much the shape of eyes traveled onto a butterfly, this character finally encountered another, which U+76F8 (xiang⁴ /ɕi̯ɑŋ⁵¹/), the ‘seeing’, together coined the new word xiang⁴ji¹ /ɕi̯ɑŋ⁵¹ t͡ɕi⁵⁵/ ≃ ‘seeing’ + ‘apparatus’ = “photo apparatus”, a word miraculously achieved its own nature and origin, the photo apparatus meets the trigger. A “photo apparatus” as a ‘ranged weapon’ transformed from a metaphor into a fact.
A trigger always needs a target to aim on, to shoot at, a target then becomes a ‘goal’, an ‘objective’ for an achieving. It is the focus of attention, like in the Chinese word for ‘goal’ literally meaning ‘eyeing the withe center point of a target’. In language, as a metaphor a target is the domain of the subject in a metaphor; it is the translated language of the source. A target becomes meaning superimposing and mapping.
In space, an interplanetary rover curries a target features a carefully designed array of lines, dots, or other patterns in color and grayscale within its own sight, which allows its imaging system to fix its initial orientation and calibrate the color in images of the landscape on other planets. In an imaging system, a target can be focused on in order to determine its level of precision, to measure the accuracy or its performance to ensure the effective functioning. Very much like a rover in space, a photographer would capture a target through a photo apparatus or other image input devices on earth, by comparing the resulting output image to the original, to reference measurements. It is about the measurement of light.
If we take a closer look into the character U+6A5F, we shall notice a subtile part, which beside its radical component, the ‘wood’, there is the character U+5E7E (ji¹ /t͡ɕi⁵⁵/; ji³ /t͡ɕi²¹⁴/; ji⁴ /t͡ɕi⁵¹/), this subtile part originally meaning itself as the ‘fine details’, the ‘slight’, the ‘hints’. Even closer, as a word used for asking questions, U+5E7E means ‘how much’ and ‘how many’. A photographer is holding an apparatus focusing on a target, a photo apparatus becomes an apparatus for measurement of quantity, of number, of time and space, of our reality; is it a metaphor or a fact?
At the scale of meaning of words, the realm of language, a character is pointing at its target.
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Text k výstavě “Xing Ying Shen” Zhou Junshenga v galerii Velryba (2015)
Cesta je vždy skutečná. Fyzicky se na ni vydáváme a prožíváme ji v jejím trvání a zkušenostz ní získaná se stává naší přirozenou součástí. Některé cesty nám však odhalují svou skrytouambivalenci a můžeme o nich říci, že jsou ve svém průběhu neuchopitelné. Takový druh cestyvede do přechodného prostoru mimo náš svět a činí nás dočasně nepřítomnými. Jde ozvláštní cestu do neprostoru, cestu jež je, spíše než přemístěním se od někud někam, jistýmdruhem odbočení, které v sobě nutně obsahuje opětovný návrat.
Odbočení je destabilizací reálného a následný návrat je jeho opětovnou stabilizací. Tentonávrat je však stejně nepředvídatelný jako cesta sama a není jasné, zda se vracíme dostejného světa, který jsme opustili, nebo do světa jiného, změněného, zda jeden světneskončil a my se nevracíme do světa nového. Nakonec nemusí být zcela jisté, zda jsmecestu skutečně vykonali, jelikož je tento neprostor tak neuchopitalný, až můžeme pochybovato jeho existenci. Některé cesty tak často prožíváme jako pocit prázdna mezi výchozím acílovým bodem.
Úplné obrysy cesty, cesty reálné i ireálné, cesty zde i mimo, pak vždy odhalujeme až vezpětném pohledu. Její podoba krystalizuje z náznaků její (ne)skutečné existence donepřesných tvarů vzpomínek. Kde jsme byli, a kam jsme se snad snažili dojít, se dozvídámeaž posléze. Čas na takovéto cestě pak prožíváme především až při jejím cyklickém opakování- opětovném vydáním se na cestu v procesu kartografické práce vědomí. Z fragmentů cestyutváříme mapu prožitých zkušeností, na které můžeme nalézt neznámá, ale i potencielněujišťující pole vědomí.
Na pozadí zde prezentované výstavy Zhou Junshenga vidím právě takovouto cestu. Vprvní instaci jde o cestu reálnou, cestu do Izraele vykonanou v rámci skupinového výletu. Tatocesta, ač sama nese známky reminiscence ireálného, slouží především jako zvláštní druhmédia pro cestu další - pro cestu krok za krokem odbočující od svého ukotvení ve skutečnémsvětě. Je jí procházka do pouště Negev, pro kterou je příznačný hluboký prožitek samoty akoncentrace na vlastní přítomnost ve zdánlivé nekonečnosti. Fyzická rozlehlost prostorupouště, ve kterém se cesta odehrála, je tak neuchopitelná, až se jeho reálné kontury začínajírozplývat a můžeme mluvit spíše o prostoru mentálním či imaginárním. Prostor pouštědisponuje potenciálem jiných světů. Výběr fotografií a fragmenty vzpomínek, pocitů a asociacíz této cesty se pak stávají záchytnými body a liniemi na její mapě.
Výstava se sama stává cestou. A to cestou podvojnou, která stále ubíhá ve skutečném světě, ale současně odbočuje mimo něj. Návštěvníka tak situuje do role chodce, jež v opakování realizuje kartografickou práci vědomí a utváří si tak vlastní mapu minulých zkušeností.
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Beyond the Horizon of Things (Apr 2014)
Hardly perceptible details, ordinary things and phenomena, so ubiquitous and mundane that we no longer even notice them, or register them only with superficial interest; and yet these are endowed with a depth and gravity all their own. This is how one might describe the objects of Zhou Junsheng's attention. Through the surface of the things depicted in his photographs, his focused and philosophical inquiry opens the path to a profound contemplation of their existence within the reality which surrounds us.
A characteristic motif in Zhou Junsheng's photography is that of energy. In his older work it appears in a frozen, accumulated state. These works point us towards a notion of space beyond our consciousness, such as other galaxies, or the temporality of various entities (e. g. minerals). Here, photography is used to freeze a moment in time, to capture a given amount of light, which presents to us the state of a given object in the course of ceaseless change. Symptomatic of this accumulation is a sort of static tension, which is nonetheless released in the artist's current projects, in which this energy begins to flow in the direction of linear time. As it shifts from a state towards a process, we can observe this energy in terms of its functionality, i. e. at work, transformation, or as pure impact. However, it can also attain a cyclical character, as in The Turn (2014), where through a hole burned by the sun - the result of a slow accumulation of its energy within the frame of the negative - there opens a space for the viewer's own path of knowledge, just as in Plato's metaphor the slave achieves knowledge as he makes his escape from captivity in the cave. Simultaneously, however, it opens itself to the reverse emanation of light, locking itself into a cycle, resulting in our blindness. A common factor in more recent work is the notion of entropy, culminating in the transformation of structured matter, namely, something endowed with a function and utility, into formlessness and chaos in The Question Concerning Thing: Pencil and Eraser (2014). The functionality of an object is here completely dissolved, as it loses its original form. It wanes like everything on the symbolic horizon, as it falls behind over the course of the voyage undertaken.
In spite of its passage, time in these photographs exists in the infinite present. However, it is not the visualization of the moment of exposure, so characteristic of photography, but rather the fact that the object photographed is abstracted from time in the same way that space is reduced to a minimal surface. The image can no longer be identified as something anchored in concrete time and space, and one can no longer say "this once existed"; instead, we experience it in a sort of replayed present of general principles and their existence as such. Zhou's photographs represent a kind of semi-transparent mirror enabling us to see both the world reflected upon its surface, and the depth of field beyond, through the looking glass, and at the same time reflecting our immediate surrounding reality.
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