Truth from Heart: Interview with Du Hualin
內心的真實:專訪杜華林 


INTERVIEWED BY 採訪 x CHEN MENG 陳檬
PHOTOGRAPHED BY 攝影 x ZHANG YIHONG 張一弘
DIRECTED BY 策劃 x WU YUYAO 吳玉耀
TRANSLATED BY 翻譯 x YU CHANG 于暢

ART.ZIP:Since when did you take to photography?
D:I have been fond of fine arts since I was little. I started to learn painting at the age of five and my dream had been to be able to study in academy of fine arts. So within seven years, I took part in the examination three times and was finally admitted to Xi’an Academy of Fines Arts with the highest professional course score throughout the five provinces of North West China. My first choice was oil painting, unfortunately, it did not recruit students that year. At that time, it was quite difficult to be admitted to a university. Therefore, after a lot of persuasion of the professor, I was reluctant to enrol in Graphic Design in Technological Design Department. Photography was one of our optional courses and I believe that both photography and painting belong to two-dimensional space and are thus interrelated.

ART.ZIP:What is your perspective on the oversea early photography works?
D:When photography was first invented, it was black and white. Laymen did not think of black-and-white photograph that much of excellence. However, professionals and the adept did think highly of the pictures taken in that era, because in 19th century many great masters in fine arts history, like De-gas, Courbet, Gericault, were very interested in photography, and they had a good command of sets, light, models, motion, props and costumes, unlike many mechanical photographers–the only thing they know was clicking.

ART.ZIP:What about Chinese photography? When did it start?
D:In late Qing Dynasty or even in the period of Republic of China(1912-1949), taking a picture in the photographic studio was a big event in one’s life. Generally, only celebrities had the chance to do so. They took it quite seriously, like participating in a ritual. Most of the portraits were dignified and of serious looks, hardly with any other facial expressions. Since the exposure time was really long, the model needed to remain still for quite a while. At that time, lighting equipments were unavailable and only natural light could be utilized. Therefore, photo studio was originally often set on the topmost storey where skylight could compensate the limited lighting provided by windows. That was why we often referred to photo studio as a “storied building”. Nowadays, people just enjoy taking pictures with their mobile phones whenever they like, whether they are skilfully professional or not.

ART.ZIP:How does photography attract you the most?
D:My interest in photography originates from my passion for fine arts. I like visual stuff.

ART.ZIP:Can we just presume that you love photography simply because you like painting?
D:I always wanted to become a painting artist when I was a child. Instead, things didn’t turn out the way you expected, I ended up studying design in the academy of fine arts and thereafter make a living by being a designer. Liu Bannong, who published the first book on the art of photography in China, once said it is not hard to learn the rudiments of photography, but you are probably just able to take it as a treat or favourite pastime.

ART.ZIP:Why don’t you switch to painting as your professional career as you love it so much?
D:I have spent too much time in design industry, which practically destroyed my dream of an artist. Painting requires persistent efforts and years of accumulation, which I failed to persevere and now unlikely to make it. Compared with painting, photography is easier and less time-consuming. It does not take tremendous amounts of efforts either. Honestly, I am not passionate about photography. I just do it for fun, which kills the ambitions.

ART.ZIP:Like painting, photography has many schools. What is your preference?
D:The school “Pictorial Photography”, which might be originated from France, seeks to mimic the beauty of painting. It is very similar to painting in many ways, even in brushwork, and it is my favourite style. Now, with the advanced technology, we could create pictorial effect through post production. Long Chinsan, a Taiwan darkroom expert, who is proficient in photo processing, now could be called a “post” pictorial photography master. However, the pictorial effect created by computer, especially those pictures processed by photographers with little aesthetic sense, is pretty monotonous and lack of individuality.

ART.ZIP:Do you prefer any particular subject in your photography?
D:I like taking photos of people. You know, unlike Chinese artists, many in the West prefer figure painting and hold scenery or still life painting in contempt. Most artists have various standards for beauty when they are looking for models. They value the peculiarities of the models. So do I. I like to take pictures for the plain and rustic farmers in my hometown, who just naturally own the strong characteristics. I find their wrinkles affable and unpretentious, maybe because this kind of natural bond to rural areas is in my blood. So I am not very keen on metropolis beauty. Sometimes I could be very stubborn about my preference for the old and primitive flavour.

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ART.ZIP:People are shaped and influenced by the land where they were brought up. Actually many people live in the past, they like to extract essence from the past history rather than from the future.
D:Maybe my preference for visual stuff is related to my decades’ practice of painting . It has subconsciously affected my aesthetic appreciation .

ART.ZIP:There is a saying “painting filters reality, while photography copies reality”. What do you think of the reality brought by photography?
D:Some people say that art holds more reality than history does and I agree. People have to avoid certain things when recording history, while comparatively speaking, art has more freedom. I think different types of art are similar, they all filter and at the same time preserve the reality. For example, news photography, very similar to documentaries, emphasizes on the record of actual events, while pictorial photography stresses tableau or screen image. However, at the same time, both of them will reflect the photographer’s personal inclination, out of various reasons. Even news photography, the aim of which is to record reality truthfully, is largely affected by personal preference in terms of the chosen moment, figure, motion, light and atmosphere. One object or subject could be presented quite differently when it is captured in different moments, which will in turn convey different messages. We could say that reality is in each individual’s mind respectively.

ART.ZIP:In your opinion, how do the photography works of China differentiate from those of other countries?
D:From the single aspect of image, the distinction is similar to the difference between Chinese paintings and foreign paintings.

ART.ZIP:Do painting and photography have an impact on your design? Does your design style reflect from your photography works?
D:With no painting practice and persistent training, it is hard to produce any outstanding formative arts or plastic arts. Painting can be a simple structure of fine arts or plastic arts, and apparently is the most effective way for the training. Both photography and design are graphic art. The image and text of graphic design necessarily need a good aesthetic sense.

I suppose my photography works mirror some features of my graphic design. What you do is naturally affected by your personality or your cultural background, you just can not hide it. Just as the proverb goes, as you sow, so shall you reap.

ART.ZIP:Currently, modern media are booming. As a graphic print medium, photography might have its own limitations. Do you think it will be replaced by other media?
D:Take Chinese calligraphy as an example, neither Chinese people nor foreigners need it in terms of daily utility, but it survives nevertheless. Different from machines, art will be not substituted by newer or stronger version, because art cannot be categorized into superior art or inferior art, and there is no such thing as “art progress” or art evolution. Can you say photochrome is better than black-and white photography and the latter will be substituted? No. Prior to the invention of photography, painting plays an important role in recording actual events or visual images. However, after photography came into being, the status of painting is not swayed at all, because not only can painting record events, also painting is irreplaceable because it can deliver emotions. Therefore, no matter how media are developing, photography will be preserved for its own noticeable elements.

ART.ZIP: How do you cultivate yourself in photography?
Du:Though China has a large population and numerous photographers, it still lag behind many countries in terms of photography. Most people just like to take photos, but lack a basic understanding of the essence of photography. And professional photographers focus their attention on the brand or model of camera they use, or things like aperture and speed. It is just like the artists who only care about brush or paper they use. Actually, the tools are not the most important part and their function in improving your artistic skills is limited. Those who create cameras are not necessarily the good photographers. Art, such as painting and calligraphy, needs to be inherited. So does photography. You are a success if 90% of your works are influenced or inherited from your predecessors and only 10% of them are created by yourself. But if only 10% of your works are inspired or inherited from the predecessors and the rest 90% are created by yourself, you will fail. The hardest part is how to learn the 90%.


 

 

ART.ZIP:您是從什麼時候開始喜歡攝影的?
杜:從小喜歡美術,5歲學畫,願望就是要考入美術學院。前後七年,考了三次,以西北五省第一名的專業成績考上了西安美院。油畫是最好的選擇,但那一年不招生。當時考上大學很難,在老師勸說下勉強上了西安美術學院工藝系學平面設計。大學選修課有攝影,攝影和美術是相通的,都是二維空間,可以相互感悟。

ART.ZIP:您是如何看待早期國外的攝影作品?
杜:最初攝影術發明的時候是黑白片,普通人也許覺得以前的黑白攝影拍得不好,懂攝影的人,有畫面感的,卻對那個時代的作品非常欣賞,因為上上個世紀許多美術史上的大師都在參與攝影,德加(Degas)、庫爾貝(Courbet)、籍裏柯(Gericault)等等,他們把握了攝影中的場景、光線、模特、動態、道具、服飾等等,操作機械的“攝影師”只是按下快門。

ART.ZIP:中國人開始怎麼接觸了攝影?
杜:清末甚至是民國,去影樓拍照都是一個人一生中的大事,拍照大多是名人的事情,儀式感很強,很認真對待。早期的人物攝影多是端莊嚴肅的,幾乎沒有表情,曝光時間很長,需要“模特”固定下來。當時沒有燈光設備,全靠自然光,窗口光有局限,就必須有天窗,照相館都設在房子的最高層,也成了“影樓”這個名詞的來歷。現在人人有手機,都會拍照,都喜歡拍,不管拍的好不好,高興就可以。

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ART.ZIP:攝影最吸引您的是什麼?
杜:對攝影的愛好源於對美術的熱愛,喜歡視覺的東西。

ART.ZIP:因為喜歡繪畫所以才喜歡攝影?
杜:小時候想做畫家,無奈上了美院卻學了設計,後來並以設計為生。劉半農說過攝影容易入門,很不幸,只好拿攝影來過過癮。

ART.ZIP:那為什麼不直接從事繪畫?
杜:搞設計時間太長了,這個職業毀了我的夢想,繪畫需要很長的時間來磨練功底,現在做不到了,畫不出名堂了。攝影相比繪畫容易操作,耗精力小。但骨子裡並不喜歡攝影,只是玩玩,玩物喪志了。

ART.ZIP:攝影有很多流派,就像繪畫有很多流派一樣,您的偏愛是?
杜:好像是法國人最早形成一種風格叫“畫意攝影”,它更美一些,追求“畫”風,甚至連畫的筆觸都在模仿,像畫,我更喜歡。目前科技發達,後期製作可以造出一些“畫意”。臺灣的郎靜山就是攝影手工時代的暗房大師,現在可以叫“後期”畫意大師吧。電腦出來的“畫意”,特別是缺乏美術功底的攝影師做的後期畫意,沒有個性,千人一面了。

ART.ZIP:您平時喜歡拍攝什麼題材?
杜:喜歡拍人物。有點像過去的西方畫壇大多喜歡人物畫一樣,老外和中國人不同,他們瞧不起風景、靜物畫家之類。畫家選模特和普通人心中的美是有差距的,主要要有特點,我拍照也一樣。我常常很喜歡老家質樸的原始的,滿臉皺紋的農民,拍出來有味道,有特點,“土”味十足,也親切,也許因為我骨子裡太土了,常常忽略了都市美,有種人很固執,老喜歡從前的味道,我就是。

ART.ZIP:一方水土造一方人,其實人都是生活在過去的,更多的人都是從“過去”提煉精華而不是未來。
杜:或許可以講我對視覺的感情偏好,大多來自於幾十年的繪畫功底,所以也在無意間左右著自己的審美趨向。

ART.ZIP:有種說法“繪畫過濾現實”“攝影拷貝現實”您怎麼看待攝影的真實?
杜:有人說過藝術比歷史還真實,我覺得也是,寫“歷史”的人要講回避,相對搞藝術的自由些,各類藝術都差不多吧,各有各的過濾與真實。比如新聞攝影講究紀實,畫意攝影講究畫面,但是兩者同時又都有人為的成分存在,不管出於什麼原因。新聞紀實攝影也會帶有明顯的個人偏向性,你選擇的瞬間、人物、動態、光線、氛圍等等都是有意無意人為的,一個事物在不同的瞬間可以呈現完全不同的表像,也會因此導向不同的本質。所以可以說所謂真實是在每個人的心裡。

ART.ZIP:您覺得中國和外國的攝影作品有不同嗎?
杜:單從畫面來講,就像中國畫和外國畫的區別。

ART.ZIP:繪畫和攝影對你的設計有影響嗎?從您的攝影作品中能感覺到您的職業風格嗎?
杜:所有與造型有關的藝術沒有繪畫功底是挺難想像的,繪畫是對造型藝術簡易而最有效的訓練方式。攝影和設計都是一種圖形藝術,平面設計有圖文,也是圖形,對圖文的把握也是對審美功底的考驗。或許我的攝影裏能偶爾看出平面設計的影子,人有某種個性和某種文化背景,做事的時候都會自然而然的流露,掩飾不住。種瓜得瓜,種豆得豆就是這個道理。

ART.ZIP:現代媒介很發達,攝影是一種平面媒介,也許存在局限性,攝影會被其他更新的媒介取代嗎?
杜:比如中國的書法,從純粹的使用功能,外國人不需要它,中國人也不需要它,但它仍然存在,藝術不像機器,新的取代舊的,強的淘汰弱的,藝術不同,無高下之分,也沒有“藝術進步”這一說,你能說彩色照片比黑白照片好嗎,乾脆把它取代了,不能。攝影沒有發明前需要繪畫,因為繪畫可以紀實視覺,但有了攝影繪畫並沒有受到影響,因為繪畫不僅能紀實,更能傳情,而且這個“情調”他物代替不了,不管媒介怎麼發展,攝影也會以攝影的情調而生存。

ART.ZIP:你如何提高自身的攝影修養呢?
杜:中國人多,拍照片的人也多,但我覺得中國仍然屬於比較落後的攝影大國,很多喜歡攝影的人缺乏基本的對攝影本質的理解,同行交流的時候常常注意力放在你用什麼相機?用什麼光圈、速度之類,就好比畫家交流的時候只關心你用什麼筆,用什麼紙一樣。器材只是工具,會用就行,無需深究,造相機的人未必能拍出好的照片,器材從本質上提高不了你。繪畫、書法等等藝術都是需要傳承的,攝影也需要傳承。你的作品裡面,百分之九十是前人的,百分之十是自己的,你就成功了;如果你的作品裡面,百分之十是前人的,而百分之九十是自己的,那你就什麼都不是。難就難在這百分之九十的學習。