iTaiwan by Radu Diaconu


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This project is the result of the 6 months that I lived in Taiwan in 2014 and 2015. My intent was to portray Taiwan through my iPhone, the iconic photography instrument that people use everyday to shoot their surroundings. Taiwan also happens to be one of the countries, with its plants in China, that manufactures the phone that I am shooting with.

My dark and dreamy images are meant to convey a sense of lost time, of light changing and of moments passing by. When I first started shooting, I did not yet understand the implications, nor the contradictions that were going to be present in my work. I wanted to detach myself from photography, from the simplest way to capture a scene, a moment, light and shadow, without worrying about the process, nor the equipment. It was a way to bridge the gap between body and soul, between mind and heart.

When I decided to photograph Taiwan for the time that I lived there, I did not think anything would come out of it. I did not even realize that the work I was producing with my phone was a reflection of Taiwan and Taiwanese society seen through someone else’s eyes. Taiwan is one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet. This small island nation of 20 or so million people has known so much history and lived through such terrible times. Yet, in the last 40 years the island has experienced exponential growth, shooting its economy upward and propelling it as of one of the Asian tigers.

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No motto is more fitting for Taiwan than the famous line spoken to Chen Kai Shek: “Export or Die” and Taiwan did just that. The iPhone used for this project was manufactured by a Taiwanese company (Foxconn). My work, without even knowing it, makes a complete circle and ends where it began. I hope that in my liberation, in my attempt to free myself from the constraints of photography, I was able to capture a glimpse of Taiwanese life, with its people, its buildings, its mountains, its energy an its soul.

If I encapsulated the soul of Taiwan within the confines of my phone, then perhaps the connection we share with one another through technology can be a way to bridge the invisible barrier between East and West, between technology and tradition, between the concept of photography and image making and over our need and desire for the immediate.

My desire was to create something dark and beautiful, something that could turn reality into fiction and make you wish that what you saw really was there, if only for an instant. My perception of reality, as painful as it can be, is only an illusion of my memory and my photography is only an attempt for me to reconstruct that reality. Photography, so much like writing, is only a fragment of our imagination, a moment in time that gets diluted with every second passing by, as things are never really as we portray them to be.

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About Radu Diaconu

Originally from Romania, I immigrated to Canada in 1993, 4 years after the fall of the Ceausescu regime. I spent my early years in Montreal and went to Concordia University to pursue a degree in Political Science and Photography (fine art) for my Bachelor’s degree. I also hold a Graduate Diploma in journalism from Concordia University and undertook a Master’s degree in International Political Economy from Université de Montreal. My work evolves at the intersection between street and documentary photography, between fiction and non-fiction. [Official Website]

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