Hutong Re:Development #17, China, 2008, photography copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Last week I essentially finished the last of the 40 color triptychs for my series Re:Development – China, Business as Usual (Zhou Chang Ying Yeh). And over this week I have been looking and re-examining the triptychs that I assembled to be sure of the emotional content and conceptual concepts that I was trying to pull out of this body of work.
Meanwhile, I complete a re-work of my web site for this series. As I had mentioned earlier, I updated the name of the series, deleted the earlier singular images and added a introduction to the series. At this time, I have only placed half of the photographs from this series on the web site. That was my first attempt at understanding which of the 40 triptychs were the stronger images or ones that provided needed continuity to the series.
As I titled these, I found three general themes reoccurring, enough so that they became the basis for how I title the images: Urban Re:Development, Industrial Re:Development and finally Hutong Re:Development. I think that the first two are relatively self explanatory, with the term Hutong being a little more unfamiliar to those speaking English as this is a Chinese Mandarin word.
I had thought about helping to define this word in the introduction, but decided against it, as I believe the images tell the story. Never the less, the definition for Hutong is relatively simple, as it means alley or lane. What it has come to mean over the years are the narrow old streets within the villages and usually the old villages and communities themselves. Not the urban city and not the rural country, something in between that is a type of small community of people and tight knit & close relationships.
Interestingly as I recently looked at the photographs of Atget made in Paris, especially Old Paris, a lot of similarities between his areas of Old Paris and the Hutongs of China. And when his photographs were identified as that of the slums of Paris, ear marked for demolition and reconstruction in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it was like bolt of recognition and further understanding of the extent of the changes occurring in China that I was witnessing.
As I now look ahead to potential publishing this series in a book, how to sequence the images and in what order is kind of daunting right now. But that is not a current issue, but one I get to think about for a while. nice.
At the moment with my current printer, I can print these as a 15″ x 45″ print. But after we finish remolding the studio area, I am anticipating a 44″ wide printer. For some reason, I am now thinking that the maximum size of these prints would be 20″ x 60″, but that remains to be seen.
Nice to have this completed.
Best regards, Doug