Bucolic Mountains of Garbage

Behold
The Photo Blog
March 15 2013 11:00 AM

Bucolic Mountains of Garbage

Ancient Springtime Fey, 2006.
Ancient Springtime Fey, 2006.

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

In many ways, photographer Yao Lu uses conflict as a way to achieve harmony.

At first glance, his work that began in 2006, titled “New Landscapes,” looks like photographs of traditional Chinese paintings.

In fact, the images are carefully reconstructed mounds of trash Lu has digitally manipulated to look like rural mountain landscapes.

Autumn Mist in the Mountain with Winding Streams, 2007
Autumn Mist in the Mountain with Winding Streams, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

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The series examines the ever-changing landscapes of modern life, specifically in China, where development is constant and construction ubiquitous, creating radical mutations as well as tremendous waste.

“This work implied that the world should become more and more harmonious,” Lu wrote via email. “My thoughts were always about conflict while I was making the images. I believe in maintaining a beautiful feeling in the framing of the image, but there are elements of trash and dust; it’s very interesting. I need to constantly adjust my thinking to make them consistent.”

Lu was born in Beijing and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied printmaking. He then studied in Australia, graduating from Griffith University Queensland College of Art. He describes himself as a reporter, noting that “photography is my work tool, an important tool I can’t do without.”

Smoke-like Clouds at Zhongshan, 2006
Smoke-like Clouds at Zhongshan, 2006

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

He feels his work speaks to people on many levels.

“I would like to emphasize humans and nature, the relationship between people and the relationships to the past, that is the relationship between modernity and tradition.”

Overlapping Waves and Lush Trees, 2007
Overlapping Waves and Lush Trees, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

River Village Covered with Snow, 2007
River Village Covered with Snow, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

Clear Cliff Shrouded in Floating Clouds, 2007
Clear Cliff Shrouded in Floating Clouds, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

Viewing the City's Places of Interest in Springtime, 2007
Viewing the City's Places of Interest in Springtime, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

Viewing the Waterfal from the Pine Rocks, 2007
Viewing the Waterfal from the Pine Rocks, 2007

Yao Lu, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein, New York

David Rosenberg is the editor of Slate’s Behold blog. He has worked as a photo editor for 15 years and is a tennis junkie. Follow him on Twitter.

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