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  • Writer's pictureChumin Wu

Anxiety in Paths of Hope: Perception to Vision

CANO Gallery, Oneonta, 2019

This group of photos was taken by five photographers Jingyun CHEN, Chumin WU, Zongwei SHEN, Mike GAN, Taohen ZHAO who were born in China and came to US seeking better education and opportunities.

Being in a new environment and culture, all the mixed feelings of inquisition, depression, anxiety, and confusion have entangled us often. As photographers, we decided to use photo as the medium to express our emotion and memories. Our different techniques and angles shown in the photographs on city have been developed out of our similar cultural backgrounds yet different perspectives from our experiences. This collaborative exhibition embraces street photography, landscape, fine art photography, documentary, astro-photography, and architectural photography.

We want to share our expression of complex emotional experiences through our lens. It is often overwhelmingly scary, lonely, and it takes up a lot of encourage to find our path towards our roles and goals. Through this exhibition, we hope we could evoke people's awareness on how non-natives live through their everyday life in this new piece of land.

© Mike Gan

"Haruki Murakami wrote this in Hear the Wind Sing, “Hey, I’ve always opened up my umbrella when I pass the Empire State Building, because people (are) jumping off the building all the time.”

No doubt New York is a fast-paced city. Things are very different from my hometown, where people greet each other with a genuine smile. Everything is so fast here in New York City: births, deaths, love, hate, etc. You can only collect all the beautiful moments that flash when you hear that clicking noise of your camera shutter, just like collecting stamps, (and) they’ll be forever yours to hold in a booklet. Those “love” or other stories."

-- Mike Gan

© Chumin Wu

When walking in city streets, sometimes I feel like I am having an adventure in a dream: running in the cold concrete jungle and complex geometry space. The sounds of car horns, the flashes of neon lights, the whispers of the passersby; everywhere is a delusive scene.

I ask myself, “Should I keep going until I find the real light or wait for this chimeric scene to fall off and switch to another parallel world?”

-- Chumin Wu

© Jingyun Chen

Inspired by the concept of “Luminous Architecture”, this set of works is an abstract low-key photography of modern architectures in New York, Boston and Toronto. Black and white amplify the highlights and shadows, as a way to express the loneliness and overwhelming uncertainty.

I saw the hard lines and sharp corners of the buildings as blades, which are metaphors for the cut-throat condition of living in this new environment.

The lines of the buildings lead the ways to survive and fit in the environment.

-- Jingyun Chen

© Taohen Zhao

The city, its complexes constructed by steel, concrete, and glass, carries daily lives of most human beings in the modern era. While the industrial revolution grants us enormous possibilities, it has been stripping our emotions. NYC is a perfect example to demonstrate such evolution.

I see NYC as a natural but artificial stage and its residents are actors on this stage. (Its residents are performing actors.)

By depicting rigid lines of steel and rendering weird colors from artificial lights, I tried to reconstruct parts of the stage, record actors’ performances, and together build a new stage to exhibit modern humans’ common conditions of solitude, anxiety, and lack of intimacy.

-- Taohen Zhao

© Zongwei Shen

I took these photos last summer’s nights. It was the first time I could feel and see the bright warm lights of New York State since the four years I’ve been here. It reminds me of the sky view I saw in my hometown during the primary school years. In the beginning, I lived my life in the feelings of loneliness and anxiousness.

After a few years of adaptation, the sky and the culture no longer feel cold and distant. I could finally capture the warmth of these cities’ horizons whose lights have now become familiar to me.

--Zongwei Shen

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