Transmutation of Archives 《嬗变的档案》
Abstract: In recent years, photographers around the globe have begun to break the conventional linear sequence in the construction of photographic texts, opting for a new wave that allows multiple narrative strategies of the real or the fictional. They fuse documents, historical photos, texts, and carefully-constructed images, taking viewers to times and places in the past, to boundaries that can or cannot be told. This kind of practice not only reflects the artists’ interest and urgent desire to delve into history but also reveals the space that has been opened for photographic practices by the richness of social and cultural environments in history. In China, the research on archival art and it’s phenomena has appeared continuously in recent years, but it is mostly written based the theories of western scholars, such as T. R. Schellenberg, Jacques Derrida, Michael Shanks and others, and lacks discussion on archives in the political, social and cultural context of modern and contemporary China.
Based on my ongoing research on the historical narrative of contemporary Chinese photography, this paper examined the following three interrelated archival issues: the production, dissemination, and storage of public photo archives in modern China; the historic changes in the resource structure of photo archives; and the different methods of transforming photo archives into works of art in contemporary Chinese photography.