Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Taoism, Semiotics & Photography

I put these four photos as a series. In the first picture which was taken by Polaroid, These two dots are two acrobats juggling on a string between two mountains. The other three landscape were taken by my phone. I shoot through windows of my car in early morning, therefore, they are all unfocused and with fog. I try to make this group of photos like ink painting . All of these photographs are blurred and lines in these pictures are really soft. There is a lot of negative space of sky.  I got inspired from tradition Chinese painting and Taoism philosophy concepts. These photos is the deconstruction of an ancient painting called “Early Spring”.


Xi, Guo. Early Spring. (1072)                                                                                            Detailed parts of Early Spring


According to Duan Lian’s opinion(2019), ideograms are not only the visual representation of images, but also the meaning of concepts, which helps audiences understand the ideology in the tradition of Chinese landscape painting. In “Early Srping”(Guo, 1072), images of hills, peaks, and rivers represent the landscape, but this representation does not stop there. In “Early Spring”, There are also several small figures, who are travelling, fishing and boating. Broadly speaking, in the tradition of Chinese landscape painting, the small figures in the landscape represent certain aspects of life, while life represents the Taoist concept: human is only a small part of nature. This concept is ideological, and it points to ancient philosophies dealing with lifestyles such as Taoism. From a semiotic point of view, the representation relation ship between the referent and the referent is not simple, but multi-layered. (Duan, 2019) In “Early Spring”, there are at least three representative levels. In form, the appearance of the landscape image is a sign that represents mountains, rivers and woods. The indicator and the indicated together constitute the visual sign of the spring scene. On the social icon, representing a certain aspect of the real life of the upper middle class. On the ideological level, social symbols are transformed into philosophical symbols, representing the Taoist concept of lifestyle.

In my own work “Tao”. I make camera get unfocused and lines be soft to make the photographs look like Chinese painting . Eastern philosophy has always suggested that people maintain absolute calm and the evolution of their thinking process to achieve intuitive experience of life. In order to achieve this goal, my attention should be focused on the most form of existence in the universe. These photos explores the truth and hidden laws of things beneath the surface through simplification and abstraction. For example, Zhuangzi’s (4th Century BC) aesthetics is not to say anything, exploring the spirituality and intuition before symbolization, trying to preserve the castrated part of the image after language and text conversion. And the original text in Tao Te Ching is:


T’ien ti pu jen

Heaven and Earth are not kind;

The ten thousand things are straw dogs to them.


Tao fa tzu jan

Humans follow earth

Earth follows heaven

Heaven follows Tao.

Tao follows its own nature.






Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.