Made with Paper
The first time my mom took me to Beijing was in 1996, the year I finished the primary school.
This is the Meridian Gate, my very first glance of the emperor city’s power. It’s an iconic corner of the the Forbidden City. You might have seen the red walls on tons of postcards from Beijing.
In Chinese medicine theories, “meridian” means a pathway in the body along which vital energy flow. Opening the city map of Beijing, it’s easy to locate the meridian cutting through the city. For local denizens, the central line is also called the Dragon’s Pulse.
“This is the greatest south-north central city line in the world. The unique and magnificent sequence and order of the city are engendered by this line.” said Liang Sicheng, who’s been named as the father of modern Chinese architecture.
An aged taxi drivers once told me, “It says there’s a tremendous dragon sleeping under Beijing. They chose the location to build the Forbidden City simply because there lies the dragon’s nest… Heh, nest my ass.”
For most people in this city, the stories and mythes around the central line sound like something from another world. Though the area is seen by world as the real Beijing, it doesn’t exist in ordinary people’s lives.
Walking with tourists under the walls might not always be a pleasant experience as that from Lonely Planet. Every day, no matter weekdays or weekends, it’s crowded and noisy. The high rising buildings would make you feel depressed, especially when breathing the polluted air.
People come to see the sights, to feel the power, to find themselves, or just take pictures of it and leave it as other postcard symbols around the world. This is Beijing.
After living here for 6 years, I still feel like a tourist, walking through the same background. Again and again.
The policeman was standing under the willows like a still picture.
Tourists passed by him and unconsciously laughed at his serious face. But they would get no reaction — not even a smile or a death glare. It seemed that they’re walking in parallel universes.
That must be something quite common for the young dude in green uniform. A bug landed on his face and flied away. Still no reaction at all.
It was outside the Forbidden City, located in the geographic center of Beijing. For 5 centuries, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.
Though Forbidden City has been renamed as Former Palace Museum, the area remains kinda “forbidden”. You can find police everywhere and taking pictures of them closely is a taboo.
What would happen there today? Nobody is able to predict. A number of historic events took place near the Forbidden City, and people keep forgetting them quickly. That’s the most beautiful place in the city, meanwhile, the most sensitive.
Last winter, I happened to see a group of migrant construction workers walking there. They were excited and talked very loud. They stopped by the willows, looked up at the red walls, and asked each other, “Hey, is this where the emperors have wandered?”
They hugged the trees, in a way that they could use up all the energy in their bodies. Everything got quiet at the moment. I guess they could even feel the breath of the century-old plants.
For a few seconds, I saw some bare smile on the police’s faces across the lane. That may be the most peaceful place on the planet. The brief moment didn’t belong to the crazy city I live in.
The police stand there silently, pretending they’re invisible. Day by day.
The great work brought me the feelings of the magic pictures in Harry Potter films. Over last weekend, when my girlfriend was outing with her colleagues, I decided to make my own cinemagraph collection.
(Un)fortunately, I’m that kind of person who will think big at the very beginning. I’ve even talked with my friends about the possibility to make these pictures into an interactive app on iOS, and planned to make the pictures in 1080p format to make sure they will catch up the latest trends 2 years later.
But after shooting and making 10 cinemagraphs I gave up the insane idea, for now. And it might be good not to post it to any of my blogs/microblogs that have been known by my friends.
Here’s the first shoot of my cinemagraph collection. The fan in air conditioner is easy to polished into animated .gif, and it took only 8 frames for a loop. It was taken outside my car dealership when I got my new Peugeot 508.
It was hot last Saturday, especially in the workshop where they finished the final processes of the new car. It took me 30 minutes to figure out the best settings of making cinemagraphs on my Canon 5D Mark II with a cheap tripod.
The half an hour under sunshine was like the fixed cost of this whole collection. If I don’t give up after 10 shots, that would benefit me for a really long time.
For me, well, this picture looked good enough. So… here we go again.