Recently, the work of Chinese photographer Zhang Jingran in Chengdu caught our attention. The artist who claims ” just to hang around” records the urban landscapes and the vague-looking urbanites which collide within Chinese modern and traditional perspectives. Cyberpunk、vaporwave and Chinese folk elements are blended together, with some thrill and humor, that’s how Zhang Jingran’s work is composed. But, let’s take a look at what Zhang Jingran said himself.


” My name is Zhang Jingran. I am 29 years old. I was born in Urumqi, Xinjiang but now I live in Chengdu, Sichuan. I am a freelance photographer.

The inspiration for my art comes from various things in life, sometimes even daily news or games.

‘Linglong Pagoda’ series is a work that I created between 2017 and 2020. It’s a reflection about how local customs and the religious aesthetics of western China are changing in a new era.

Probably because I was born in Xinjiang, I always liked the imagery of Islamic faith, especially their clothes, which I find minimalistic, yet mysterious. Many of my photos have religious elements and religious metaphors in them.

The glowing, yellow mark on the faces of my ‘scorching’ series were actually burned with a lighter. The burnt place can be seen as the time that disappeared or my approach to abandon the limits of the traditional portrait. Most of my photos show the models in a ‘faceless’ state, because I want to encourage people to find a deeper level in photography, where makeup, styling and the selection of models are not really important.

My photography work was also influenced by the aesthetics of Vaporwave. I like the retro and futuristic feeling, that is also triggered by the beat of the music. Overall there are many visual works in the style of Vaporwave that I find too fancy and oversaturated. I hope my approach is more refreshing.


The connection between humans and machines is also a frequent theme in my work. I see the machine as an extension of our nature which at the same time can make us lose our humanity easily——we talk to computer customer services, communicate with robot waiters, everything is pre-set. I hope we can remember that randomness and coincidences are a beautiful thing, from which a large part of life’s fun comes from.


Chongqing is a super cool and exciting city, especially for street photographers. The scenery reminds you of science fiction movies, full of incredible high-rise buildings, in which you can take a lift from top of a 50-story skyscraper to the undergrounds’ 3rd floor. You can walk from dark alleys to the edge of the Yangtze River, meanwhile experiencing the rapid development of Chinese cities and the ordinary people’s passion for traditional life. It takes you only a few hours, this is really cool!

If you ask me what China will look like in the future, I really dare not to imagine. Our country is indeed developing fast, but at the same time it has abandoned many things that should have been retained. My personal hope is that the young people of China will be able to communicate directly with people in foreign countries without using bullshit VPNs. Why are politicians so obsessed with building ‘walls’ these days? “

Take a look at Jingran’s Instagram profile here.

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