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Taiwan's experimental photography pioneer Chang Chao-tang dies at 81

04/03/2024 04:29 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) Photographer Chang Chao-tang (張照堂), one of the first Taiwanese to explore experimental photography and filmmaking, has died at the age of 81.

Chang passed away at 11 p.m. Tuesday night in Taipei, according to photography magazine "Voices of Photography" (VOP), which announced the news on behalf of Chang's family on Facebook on Wednesday.

Born in New Taipei in 1943, Chang was introduced to photography in junior high school when he borrowed a camera from his brother.

He was further inspired to pursue the art in high school after attending a photography club led by Cheng Shang-hsi (鄭桑溪), one of the first documentary photography artists in Taiwan.

Chang developed a passion for literature and art while a student at National Taiwan University, where he learned about surrealism, existentialism, and modernism. These influences led to his experimental creations in later years, the VOP said.

In 1965, Chang and Cheng held a modern photography exhibition featuring their works, which caught the public's eye due to their departure from mainstream conventions.

Chang began working as a photojournalist at China Television Company in 1968 and participated in the production of many TV documentaries on special topics.

His works earned him Golden Horse awards for best documentary and best cinematography for documentary and Golden Bell Awards for best cinematography and editing.

The shooting of "China Behind" (再見中國) in 1973 marked Chang's successful venture into film production. His other works include "Woman of Wrath" (殺夫), "Tang Dynasty Beautiful Male" (唐朝綺麗男) and "Last Train to Tan Shui"(淡水最後列車), all shot in 1984, the VOP said.

Chang Chao-tang's work. CNA file photo
Chang Chao-tang's work. CNA file photo

Chang was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival in 2022, which described Chang as more than a photography master who "has brought a profound, diverse and comprehensive influence on Taiwan arts."

The way he shot films inspired succeeding directors such as Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏), Huang Hsin-yao (黃信堯), and Yang Li-chou (楊力州).

Additionally, Chang is the only photographer to have won the National Award for Arts and the National Cultural Award, in 1999 and 2011, respectively.

The Taiwan International Documentary Festival announced on Jan. 31 that Chang won its outstanding contribution award.

(By Wang Pao-er and Chao Yen-hsiang)


CNA file photo of photographer Chang Chao-tang's photo exhibition in September, 2015
CNA file photo of photographer Chang Chao-tang's photo exhibition in September, 2015
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