Roma, Roma: A Metaphor With No Need of A Code
by Fan Lin
At first glance, these images seem very simple. Two unadorned afternoon scenes constitute the basic objects of observation; the sky, the trees, the house, and the path. When juxtaposed, they do not manifest any particular choice of angle of the shot. In almost all of the images, the direction of the lighting is commonplace with the sun shining to brighten the scene. Nothing hints in the direction of a particular mood, going against the photographers’ common practise of pursuing light textures. Whilst the simplicity of these images makes people feel calm, I begin to suspect and to guess at the motivations lying behind the lens.

It is clear that the title conceals profound and complex significance. As we read the words ‘Roma, Roma’, our vigilance is awakened instantly! ‘Rome?’ This is a name of complexity, of so many layers of meaning, shrouded in mystery. Simultaneously, it is certainly not only a point on a map, but also a historical and temporal period and a spatial and temporal form reflecting the progress of European civilization. However, these images do not seek to portray the grandeur and magnificence of Rome. We are already familiar with that Rome from history books and historical sites, such that Rome, the capital of Italy provides its every visitor with a place of identification and recollection. On the contrary, of the Rome’s photographed here, one belongs to an island on the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea and another in Spain. All of these places are called ‘Rome’. The artist’s fascination with these two places of tranquility by no means stems from their historical and cultural associations. Rather, she travels by aeroplane, train, steamboat, bus and car in order to seek out these ‘Romes’. Her body’s movement allows these two remote places to meet gently and tranquilly under the sunlight.

The images created are the names of two points on a map, the three-dimensional cameras’ two lenses, the artist"s migration. These are not at all the landscapes of the genuine ‘Rome’. The production of the lenses and the artist"s journey form their sole connection. The key words relating to ‘Roma, Roma’ are ‘migration’, ‘transformation’ and ‘travel’. Once multiplied by ‘place and the position’, the simple object also multiplies in significance. Whilst photographing one of the ‘Romes’, Yuki completed a roll of film and took this roll with her to another ‘Rome’. She sized up this scene and shot another ‘Rome’ with the other lens uncovered. Finally, she juxtaposed these two ‘Romes’ to form a regular photograph.

Similarly, the use of oil paint colouring is part of the novelty. It seems we have already forgotten, that before the colour photograph made its appearance, people used such a way to recreate an impression in its original state as far as possible. In fact, it is the colour that provides the image’s mood. Travellers in those days often purchased handpainted ‘colour’ postcards.

We now know that the universally recognised meaning of tourism can be traced back to the 18th-century Europeans’ visits to see the decaying remnants of Rome’s historical monuments and architecture. Copperplate engravings constitute an important visual record helping us to understand Rome and providing images corresponding with people’s reflections on old times. Amongst these one finds: An Atlas of Rome’s Ancient and Modern Architectur and The Guide To Rome’s Education and Tourism. Simultaneously, these images formed the basis for a standard by which people can judge the scenery. With the substitution of photographs for these copperplate engravings, photographers still refer to these compositions in their use of angles and aesthetics. Using a black-and-white roll of film, the artist obtains the object. Through the application of paint, she restores the original colours of the numerous ‘Romes’. In this process, the picture guides the paintbrush. The miracle of a genuine flash of insight, an inner mood, a person’s experience, the effects of travel form a metaphor concerning Rome.

Through the two lens’ camera, with one eye blindfolded, between the opening and closing of the left eye and the right eye we can see the left side of Rome and the right side of Rome.

Translation: Nicola Kielty
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