“Pagoda” by Lin Shu: A Mystical Experience of Architecture
In 2017, I started working on the “Pagoda” series. It was all very sudden, as if the inspiration came to me instantly, consequently I realized that the topic deserved in-depth research. The process of photographing pagodas means reconsidering and rediscovering photography. In my photographic pursuit, I gradually slide into abstraction and emptiness but the pagoda pulls me back to the real world.
The reason why I am so engrossed with Pagodas’ traditional architecture is my ongoing interest in mysticism. When facing the pagoda, I often have the ecstatic feeling that it does not belong to the real world.
Unique and colossal, the building exceeds functional and utilitarian values of architecture. Its value is symbolic, a representation of Buddha and faith. In this sense, it is the material expression of the spiritual, an echo of my own pursuit as a photographer.
Since the series “Toxic”, I have been paying more and more attention to the relationship between Chinese traditional art and contemporary photography. However, I do not wish to use photography as a tool to reevaluate or validate ancient Chinese texts according to Western academic standards, nor do I wish to create photographic icons emulating the “traditional image”. My wish is to express through photography a sense of spirituality that is running through my body, feelings, perception, aesthetic and life experience. I don’t consider my process as a method but as an experience, the pure synthesis of the spirit and the individual.
This realization has deeply shaped me and raised several issues.
Photographing the Pagoda brought me back to material concerns, letting go of records, maintaining contact with reality and a curiosity towards the world. Discovering the world is photography’s most valuable purpose, and recording these discoveries is photography’s intrinsic quality Ⅹ no matter how hard today’s photography tries to ignore this fact.
It also evokes the dawn of photography, when amateurs full of dreams and enthusiasm, recorded every corner of the world. Like them, I want to cast a pure and clumsy gaze at the pagodas, a gaze out of place and outside of time.
Article published with the support of the Embassy of France in China