Confrontation between Reality and Inadequacy - On Luo Yongjin's Photography
by Lian Zhiping
In the architecture series Luo Yongjin has long dedicated himself to, the orientation beneath the pictures is quire clear. Even in the fragments of images, Luo Yongjin isn’t trying to make up illusions, but persisting in his two-fold reality recording----visual reality and mental reality.

If Hiroshi Sugimoto reduces the lengthy span of time to a shutter with his works of old cinema series, Luo Yongjin accomplishes an addition with his architecture collage series, integrating the different images of different time into the one building of one photo. It even occurs to me that what kind of photograph will come up if Luo Yongjin could cover a longer time line, say, years or decades?

Luo Yongjin’s architecture series are narrative while his otherness series are opposite. In the common sense, photos of “Otherness” concept, through change of object-image size and environment, deliberate arrangement in form, and with the addition of photographer’s mood, produce a feeling of strangeness that the object shot transcends its routine usage, inspiring people’s visual curiosity and imagination. They, thus, bring forward methods such as “a different angle” to re-observe and re-consider our daily life. However, Otherness series by Luo Yongjin show no conformity to this perception of “change” but suggest the idea of “awakening”----awakening the public to face such reality directly.

Therefore, do Luo Yongjin’s Otherness series belong to “Symbolism” photography? My answer is negative. Despite the fact that these photos present quite a number of signs from daily life, for example, folk worship and old style stripes, they hardly contain any symbol defined by Luo Yongjin----Symbol hereby refers to the symbolic works shot after certain meaning has been put into real or virtual settings. Instead, Luo Yongjin displays the easily approachable daily objects within his sight in a calm but “distinctive” way, which would not be moved for the sake of shooting or to form a “comparatively more artistic” structure., but be immediately taken into the camera as a drama, a statue or a facility in the manner of “putting to death right on the spot”. Objects, including the incense-flame-like napkin on the table and pigs at the countryside, do not change their life or any moment in their fate because of Luo Yongjin. While pressing the shutter, Luo Yongjin is recording the spirit of objects and the imperfection of the real objects. He is just like a third party, silent and neutral, accessing us to the confrontation between reality and inadequacy.

Of course, Luo Yongjin “sees” selectively. In the photos taken while he was walking down the ordinary villages and ordinary cities with camera on his back flow his respect for ordinary people and sympathy for daily things. Beneath his calm camera, the things are not calm in themselves. They reflect a variety of interpretations of the world. They convey their meaning in reality. Nevertheless, Luo Yongjin neither judges life hastily in loss of objectivity nor indulges himself in romance in avoidance of affected unconventionality. From the ordinary settings he shoots, we suddenly realize the metaphors in life----In the time of colorfulness and diversity, the absurdity or legend embodied by the protogenic objects has far exceeded people’s imagination. It turns out that the most dramatic thing is life itself rather than fiction.

Although Luo Yongjin has photographed many villages, it seems to us that the photos all come from the same village. This arouses a question: why people’s conviction, life style, desire and even life and death are nearly assimilative in such a large land? If behind all these is a formless “Creator”, I believe it should be a huge stream of spiritual control power. Then what on earth is it?

Related Artist