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Feature: RT @ APT3 & MAAP99


Missile: Shanghai N.2

Jason Sweeney


A horrifying account of a city. Disturbing(ly), beautiful. Irony: it radiates from my screen. User: outside/r. Sights seen: commerce, religion, prayer, culture/social life, sex/sleaze, citizen, politik, food, poverty. Framed against Shanghai skyline. 1-68.htm images. My choice of image. A tour at my ‘disgression.’ Like a touch screen (almost). To go here. And next. There. Each image, some broken links, a kind of prayer or chant. To walk through, (un)knowing. And how did I acquire this privilege of choice? To enter this simple, elegant image-album of a city. And (reading) language, defined, drawn upon and against the images. French, Chinese, English. Subtitles, translations, parodies of speech and the written word. Many altars, trade, coloured and overloaded. With meaning. Or the extraction of (its) history. To trust the document. To bear witness to an investigation. A circular reference, the recurring picture, assemblance and juxtaposition. Against a glowing (white) background. Empty fallen landscapes, villages, houses in ruin. “Three generations of architecture” (52.htm). A silent photo-file. Statements, too, of possible beginnings, endings, a hope (even lovers walk here), maybe faith, signs of friendship, icons in isolation, little devils appear, unmoveable objects, they pose for the camera (what are the symbols? which way to go? do I go on?). Scene: street market, the people of a city, there is life, daylight, a morning, immersed in it. Beyond, go further, in detail. Out of a dust-storm. A city in destruction, layers of a new structure, a blanket over the past. Villages of poverty slammed against some kind of fragmented future. “This whole city is a workshop” (28.htm). Again, a document. Where to next? This is easy/hard to look at. The neon of Shanghai, yes, everywhere, in photo form (remember) and people, dark nights, crowds glued into a commodified system of progress. Not unfamiliar. Could tell you things. And questions: who tore this all apart and who are the new builders? The reds, the lights, the ancient to the plastic reality of pop culture. Trade offs. “Fashion of evening life” (41.htm). What prayer? Earth and heaven, in denial. Body to the ground. Concrete. The spectators gather, no room to breathe. It’s about filling space. Moving between gaps. Taking a snapshot. Ghosts and cries, remains of a former city. Here, now: bulldozers, construction sites, forbidden (policed) zones of the next stage...Forthcoming city divisions and ‘self-colonised’ sectors, the seepages occur: “...a continuous influx of franscultural influence” (45.htm). Franchised worlds. This investigation circles the city and reports back fear. Loss, deletion, awaiting the upset, upheaval, transgression. Replacement and renewal, removal. 68 essays, clouded by grey dust, stirred foundations and missing persons. Returns to the start. Shanghai N.2 makes no claims yet screams the loudest. The photographer (seemingly) unidentified [Chen Zhen .Ed] but like a guide clock, (ac)counts (for) each step.


Missile: Shanghai N.2l, http://www.shanghart.com/chenzhen/1.htm (expired)

RealTime issue #34 Dec-Jan 1999 pg.

© Jason Sweeney; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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