"Driftwood" by Tao Ho

Mar 09, 2017

Tao Ho is a Chinese artist and photographer who works around the ideas of memory and rediscovery. Deeply influenced by Japanese art, his black and white images are intense, absorbing and prone to multiple interpretations, just as those of the masters of Japanese photography. For his series “Driftwood”, Tao collected print test stripes that later became a story of fragmented memories of his own life.


Following we present an interview that we had with Tao:


am -  First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

TH - My name is Tao Ho; I come from Guangzhou, China. After finishing my BFA degree in Traditional Chinese Painting in 2010, I decided to pursue my MFA studies in the U.S. in 2014. I received my MFA degree in Photographic and Electronic Media from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016. After graduation, I still live and work in Baltimore. Currently I keep working on my photography and music projects, tasting living in an unstable state.


am -  How did you start in photography?

TH - The initial impulse towards photography was a long time ago, when I was in high school. However at the time digital cameras were not that popular and very expensive, so I did not get my own camera after a few years later. It was around 2007 when I happened to see a series of photographic works from an unknown Japanese photographer –his website is no longer available now– who, through black-and-white photography, recorded his daily life in the form of diary after a heart artery rupture repair surgery. The world constructed with the fragmented photographs, and the feelings of familiarity and handy yet remote and untouchable ignited by the photographs deeply fascinated me, and this drove me to the area of photography.


am - What inspires your work?

TH - I believe that all ideas are related to relevant antecedents. To me in photography there is nothing to conceal, which reflects the intrinsic nature of the individual, the desire and the original appearance, the origin as human beings. I usually find inspiration in my old negatives, which are undated. This allows me to look at myself in different time intervals. Through discovery and rediscovery I progressively find clues in those negatives and my storylines. Then in my perspective, the meaning of a photograph may or may not appear immediately, it will then appear in a specific state, presented in a specific way.


am - What is “Driftwood” about?

TH - I used to keep my head down while walking, staring at the ground, sometimes attracted by something subtle and instant. I don’t remember things so clear, but sometimes a scenery, an object or even an odor will recall fragments in my memory, times when I was here or there, or when I was a kid. Sometimes it is not important to recall a very specific incident but what is related, a chain of events, and this will always bring me into a deep insomnia. This project started collecting print test stripes for a couple years. The original intention to collect these stripes as a record and reference became something other, something I started to pay attention to when these fragment grew larger and became the puzzle and trajectory of my memory.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

TH - The photographer Kou Inose, the calligrapher Yuichi Inoue and the Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno are the most important figures to me, who deeply influence me with their art philosophy. Their art forms are different, but the common ground of their philosophy emanates from themselves, from their own thinking.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

TH - It will be Japan. It is a place where I want to travel to and stay there since I was very little. It is the place that makes me feel ‘here it is!’ when I set foot on this land. Then I hope someday it will be my destination.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

TH - They are ‘Swallowtail Butterfly’ by Shunji Iwai, ‘Stray Dogs’ and ‘What Time Is It There?’ by Tsai Ming Liang.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

TH - There are lots of photo books in my list of favourites: ‘Seitaka-awadachiso’ by Onaka Koji, ‘Kioku no Danpen’ by Toshihiro Okada, ‘GO EAST’ by Klavdij Sluban, etc. However my true favourite photo books are: ‘INOSE Kou Complete Works’ by Inose Kou and ‘Kikei Hidden Memories’ by Malta Shozo.

Tao's work was featured on our Fourth Printed Issue published in 2017

that you can purchase here.

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