Modu Magazine: A Tale of Urban China

Xu Lin’s ‘Eyes of Sky’ at Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival – Exhibition

As one of the two selected curatorial projects of the Crossover Photography section in the 2018 Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival, the photography exhibition “Eyes of Sky – 1950s and 1960s Aerial Photos of Southeastern Coastal Cities of China” will feature historical aerial images of nine Chinese cities: Beijing, Xiamen, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao. This graphic mémoire of urban China dedicated to Chinese audiences is presented by Xu Lin, a digital imaging expert and an engineer who has been living the United States since the 1990s.

Xu’s ground-breaking image collection project started from an arduous search for photo archives of his hometown, Jilin, in 2007 when he first learned of the CIA declassification of Cold War films to the National Archives. These high-resolution images were originally collected by U.S. aircrafts and satellites during the Cold War period with Hycon B specialized cameras and recorded on 9×18 inch films; later, Xu digitised the images by photocopying and scanning the films that he was interested in, frame by frame – he designed a special scanner to do this painstaking work so he could get approval from the National Archives.

Over the years, Xu’s field of research has broadened to include a series of investigations on the unfolding of urban China since the 1950s. The urban landscape of China has changed dramatically due to rapid economic growth and urbanisation in recent decades. The photographs gathered by Xu Lin breathtakingly reveal these changes and serve as an invaluable source for comparing the past and the present in terms of city growth, rural-urban dynamics, and spatial configuration of economic development in modern China.

The fourth Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival will take place in Xiamen from November 23, 2018 to January 2, 2019. Co-created in 2015 between China and France, Jimei × Arles has become a top-class event for international photography artists. This year, the festival showcases 30 exhibitions in eight sections with the work of 70 artists from eight countries.

Author: Liu Ying, edited by: Jérémie Descamps



"Eyes of Sky"


November 23, 2018 to January 2, 2019

Main venues:

Jimei Citizen Square Main Exhibition Hall, Xiamen, Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre, and Xiamen North Shore Art District (where ‘Eyes of Sky’ will be exhibited)

Co-created by:

Rong Rong & Sam Stourdzé


Three Shadows Photography Art Centre & Xiamen’s Jimei District – Tianxia Jimei Media


Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles


Bérénice Angremy & Victoria Jonathan of Doors Agency

Sections & Exhibitions:

Exhibitions from Rencontres d’Arles; China Pulse and Crossover Photography exhibitions; Exhibitions of 2018 Jimei × Arles Discovery Award Nominees; Collector’s Tale exhibitions; Local Action exhibitions; Greetings from South Korea exhibitions; Project Room exhibition; White Night in Arles

See full programme:

Photo Festival, Exhibition
  • 2018/11/23 - 2019/01/02

  • Xiamen

  • Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival