Thursday, December 10, 2009

More on Tradition vs. the Modern

Changsha, Hunan, China
The other day, I was watching a video by a world renowned nature and wild-life photographer Art Wolfe

As he was demonstrating the use of light, he showed a few pictures, including the one with a barn in it. 

Now, the pictures were all amazing.  But what he said next stroke me and completely resonated with me on the subject that I brought up in my earlier blog post “To Be, Or Not to Be – Changsha, Hunan Province, China”.   

He said, in his 30 years of photographing, he’s seeing an “erosion of tradition” and things like barns are being “replaced by metal roof…”.         

What’s interesting is that Art has most likely gone a very different path in his life than I have.  And I can tell he’s travelled extensively throughout the world.  Yet, we both fixed our eyes on the process of modernization and its impact on what’s “left behind”.

Certainly, photographers may tend to romanticize the tradition and stuff that’s old.  But in Chinese philosophy, no extremes are good and two extremes such as Ying and Yang need to be in balance (or in western terms, in equilibrium). 

So, if we follow that logic, how much of tradition and what of it should we retain?

What’s your take on this subject?  I’d like to hear from you.   


travler1 said...

Your thought just cut into the point. To be or not to be? gain some & loose some? Hopefully, Chinese government has that vision to balance it out. So far, I don't.

TheFreeMinder said...

Thank you, Travler1! I appreciate your thoughts.

sanyen said...

My constrcutive comment: you should add a modern building or modern-dressed people next the cloth-hanging picture as a strong contrast between old and new