Song Tao's film noir Three Days Ago (2005) is a poetic venture into the nighttime terrain of Shanghai. Along the way, the viewer glimpses certain recurring leitmotivs, such as a child playing hopscotch, a brightly lit highway tunnel and a haunting building. An electronic score that plays throughout lends the film a flowing rhythm all its own. The loop-like structure encourages the viewer to focus increasingly on the atmosphere rather than over-all narrative plot. The elliptical repetition also builds suspense that seems to accumulate towards the end. The dramatic scenes appear eternally; the urban nightly journey could take place anywhere, anytime. Song Tao presents a slice of reality as kinetic views of urban space and fragments of memory. His vision is one of documenting and creating atmospheres—he is not concerned with staging grand truths.Read More
His own life, that of his friends and the immediate surrounding metropolis serves as his material source, as exemplified by The Floor (2003), a project that spanned six months and culminated in nearly 20,000 photographs of daily life in Shanghai. He selected about 3,000 photographs to create his floor-piece that was eventually mounted at the ShanghART Gallery in Shanghai. Another similar project that presently constitutes the floor of the gallery is a photographic patchwork of a lawn that he photographed meticulously throughout three changing seasons. These acts of recollecting come close to early conceptual and minimalist art approaches, that is, an incremental and repetitious alteration from one piece of work to the next.
Mirroring Song Tao's pre-occupation with 'ordinary reality' and the direct confrontation between the viewer and the artwork is his involvement with Bird Head (see Birdhead for more info) . His work with the collective takes the form of a photographic survey of contemporary urban life in the metropolis and is a direct response to its immediate scenery of constantly changing circumstances and events. Here, the artistic practice becomes inseparable from real life: 'Our hearts are filled with huge amounts of love and sadness' (Bird Head Statement, 2004/2005).
Song Tao was born in Shanghai in 1979 and graduated from Shanghai School of Art and Crafts in 1998. He resides and works in Shanghai. Song Tao has exhibited widely. Recent shows include China Power Station: PartI, Battersea Power Station (London, U.K., 2006), China Contemporary, Art, Architecture and Visual Culture, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam, 2006), Restless, MOCA (Shanghai, 2006), Bird Head, ShanghART Gallery (Shanghai, 2005), Guangzhou Photo Biennale, Guangdong Museum of Art, First Lianzhou International Foto Festival: Double Vision, Culture Square Lianzhou (2005), Zooming Into Focus: Chinese Contemporary Photography and Video from Haudenschild Collection, National Art Museum (Beijing, Mexico City and Shanghai, 2005), Shanghai Constructions, Shanghai Gallery of Art, (2005) and Light as Fuck! Shanghai Assemblage 2000-2004, National Museum of Art (Oslo, 2004).
Text courtesy ShanghART.
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