Zeng Han aims to capture a similar sense of polarity by revealing a stark disconnect between the historical and the contemporary moment. In his photograph World of Warcraft #11 (2008) Zeng uses the hyper modern city of Shanghai. In this rock-formed landscape with high rises minimally visible in the smoggy distance, Zeng captures several people in World of Warcraft cosplay (short for "costume play"). Visually, the landscape and the people produce a conflation of two worlds in a city that has changed drastically in a short time as well. By connecting the past and the present moment in China (arguably visible in the landscape) and through the idea of “soul stealing”—described by Zeng as a way to summon up the land’s history and culture—the striking visual juxtaposition makes the concept difficult to imagine. Looking at the photograph, one wonders if a unification of the two worlds can only be achieved in another dimension.
Video courtesy of Lev Anderson.