KT: How did you get into photography?
XC: I was familiar with a camera when I was a child, and taking photographs became a kind of habit for me. Then, I started learning about photography and art when I got to university.
KT: There is a very special and unique presence of abstract and oriental philosophy in your photography. What is your fascination about them?
XC: Vision as a product of the non-material is closer to a concept of purity. The inspiration for my project comes from ancient wisdom. I try to explore it during the process and choose the abstract way to express my photography. At the beginning of my project, I went to Iceland, where there is a constant erosion of nature in the face of humankind. It’s bizarre, landscape shares almost no relation with our civilization.
When I was hiking on icebergs and viewing the ice lake, this sparked a unique spiritual and visual impact within me. Huge blocks of ice floated atop the blue sea like pyramids, and as I took in this sight, ripples from a mysterious force pulsed through my heart. This power evokes my inspiration to express my work in an abstract way, look into nature and purify and simplify the surface of things, and you know this feeling which is unspeakable, as Kant’s theory of the Sublime, also for me it’s more like Zen philosophy.
KT: You have published two beautiful books – ‘Koan’ and ‘Clouds Dictionary’. What do you like about photography in book-format?
XC: Photography in book-format is an important approach for a series of work. The space in the book, each page, text size, all the elements concrete the other dimension of a world. When you do the layout of the book, it is similar to the exhibition planning in the gallery, so for me, the form of the photobook is another form of an exhibition which allows more privacy. Usually I put my book along with the exhibition prints so that it shall keep the memory of the show, and it’s also something that can easily be taken home, and kept for a long time. For myself, making a photo book is an opportunity to rework my way of thinking.
KT: You represent the new generations of Chinese book-makers, why don’t we see many new book-makers from China? Why are they only limited to certain publishers with European/American presence?
XC: I think there are many bookmakers in China nowadays who are quite active in China and are getting more international visibility. Many independent photo magazines have sprung up in China, and the situation is getting better. The publishers with European/American presence are more widely spread, and it’s a kind of centre for us, but we can’t deny the presence of great book-makers outside the European/American centres.