Xu Yong’s new photographic series of works are totally different from his works in the past. This time he makes the objects look foggy abstract color blocks by shooting them out of focus. These fuzzy images of color blocks turn photography from “capturing pictures of the world” into “capturing images made possible by photography”, that is, from “what to see” into “how to see”. By referring photography to “how to see”, photographic autonomy is elevated to a higher ground where photography is no other than attributes of lenses alone. Such an approach obviously belongs to the tradition of modernistic art in pursuing methodology. The fuzzy images are made deliberately to block our view of objects, and to, through imposed visual anxiety, render photography to become a method of “purely seeing”.
Xu’s new works also reflect the pressure facing by the tradition of photography today. Digital technology nowadays has made representative photography reach an unprecedented level of popularity. Anyone can easily acquire countless images of any scenery, and spread them rapidly through internet. The development of digital technology has infringed the authority of traditional photography in “representing the world through images”. Digital technology also causes post-production of traditional film photography to become insignificant, and its picture processing software makes some special traditional techniques on images and pictures seem awkward and expensive. A revolution in traditional photography would inevitably erupt under the weight of digital technology. This revolution shall begin outside of traditional photography itself, such as the contemporary artists alleging “conceptual photography” or “China’s new photography”, etc. in the early days used the tradition and methods of history of pictures to transform photography. Picture-form photographic works re-de-familiarized photography, so as to inspire and recreate photography. Xu Yong’s new works, as the latest approach to search for de-familiarization inside the tradition of photography, provides a completely new solution.
The images of fuzzy color blocks created by Xu Yong transform the tradition of photographic imagery into process of seeing. He brings photography from “generating pictures” back to “photographic production”, that is, artistic creation based on the tradition of photographic techniques. We won’t be able to penetrate the meaning of Xu Yong’s new works merely from the angle of pictures, only through re-examining the uniqueness of photography can we see clearly the way to photography opened up by Xu Yong.