China: Photoblogs—translation not needed

In the write-at-your-own-risk world of blogging in China, there are no fine lines between what's acceptable, what will get you blocked and what will get you thrown in jail. Lists of words and topics appear from time to time, but nothing official has ever been released.

It's tragic. What for many people is a healthy and empowering pasttime, blogging in China leaves some of the most articulate and informed voices out there feeling lumped in with spammers and smut peddlers. For every site that gets blocked in China, understanding of and connection to the rest of world moves a step further away; Wikipedia, Blogspot and now, even Technorati.

Photoblogs are of brilliant design, though, both in being able to get past keyword filters and in their ability to speak to any audience regardless of culture or language group.

snapping by ziboy

Prominent Chinese photoblogger Ziboy had this in mind when he decided to organize an exhibition of photos from his own blog and those of his friends all around the world. In preparation for the show this Saturday in Beijing, Ziboy agreed to answer most of the questions Global Voices sent to him.

GV: What reasons do you have for organizing this exhibition and what do you think it will achieve?

Ziboy: This exhibition came about after I received an invitation from event planner Feng Boyi and Dimensions Art Center in Beijing. Other than presenting Ziboy's photographs, this exhibition also hopes to show works from photographers around the world who can be contacted through the internet. The goal is to show how photography and photoblogs are superior to words in facilitating understanding between people from different countries and regions.

GV: I see your photoblog is doing very well. How and why did you get started in photoblogging?

Ziboy: I started this blog at the beginning on 2001 after being inspired by New York photoblogs and and then bought a one megapixel digital camera to get started.

rollerblader by ziboy

GV: Could you tell me more about what your goals are with your photoblog? Have your goals changed since you began?

Ziboy: The goal is to provide foreigners with a non-official window into Beijing and China not bound by the constraints of text, to let them see images from lives of normal Chinese that aren't found in newspapers, magazines, on television or in other exhibitions. From the beginning until now my goals and thoughts haven't really changed.

crowd by ziboy

GV: What is the relationship between your photoblog and your offline photography?

Ziboy: Before starting a photoblog I hardly ever took photos, so you could say I took up photography only for this photoblog.

GV: Has your photoblog led to any cooperation with other photographers?

Ziboy: It got me a job as a photojournalist.

GV: Can other blogs use the photos? What are your views on Creative Commons (free reproduction with attribution)?

Ziboy: Sure. I'm not totally clear on what Creative Commons is, but I agree with their views.

GV: Does photography allow you to address issues that writers in China may not? What are your views on censorship in China?

Ziboy: [Ziboy politely declined to answer this question.]

ditch by ziboy

GV: What are your blogging and photography plans for the future?

Ziboy: I hope to improve on, a website of mine which lists Chinese photoblogs.

Ziboy welcomes people to take part in the exhibition. Bring your works to the show, he says, e-mail them to him now or put them up on his Flickr site yourself.

Exhibition: Here-Photoblogger Ziboy's self expression
Opening: 15:00 p.m. (Sat) April 29, 2006
Address: Dimensions Art Center (798 Dashanzi No.4 Jiuxianqiao, Beijing)
地点:北京 798艺术区 帝门艺术中心 (酒仙桥路4号)
Time: April 29 – May 22, 2006
Free 免费

Details on the event are available in both Chinese and English.


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