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Koan is the possibility to open up the territory of pre-verbal.
As human beings, our reality based on symbolic matrix, so all possibility of our thoughts and wisdom be covered and limited by signifying chain. Only vision as a product of the non-material is closer to a concept of purity, so through photography as my own philosophical approach, I try to explore beneath the surface of things by simpli cation and abstraction to awaken spiritual awareness and intuition before the symbolic.
As Eastern philosophies, Tao and Zen always advise people to stay absolutely quiet and purify thought processes. In order to achieve this goal, our attention should focus on the most basic form of the universe’s existence. In Zen Buddhism, Koan is a story or riddle used to help in the attainment of a state of spontaneous re ection, free from planning and analytical thought. In contradiction to Western philosophy, Koan’s emphasize the inadequacy of language and words, and the importance of intuition over reason and logic, to transform the self.
I named the series as “Koan”, and selected abstract landscape photographs to do photo-etching process; the results of this craft are poetic and full of imaginations. Also only uses black ink and print on di erent Japanese papers, the color is deriving from the atmosphere of desolation and melancholy and the expression of minimalism in ancient Chinese poetry and monochromatic ink painting.
Chen Xiaoyi, Koan
2017, first edition of 500 copies
Size: 26 x 9 cm
Traditional Chinese binding, 44 folds,
Acrylic Hardcover housed in a paper box