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Trans-Alpine: China’s high mountains in transition

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About the project

Trans-Alpine observes urbanization phenomena and processes in China that is happening in the territories of high mountains and alpine zones. The root trans-, meaning across and beyond, explores an approach across continental geographies, a method beyond just the representational, transitional qualities of landscape practices and spaces in the alpine, and a translating process of fieldwork findings into productive acts.

 

 

 

 

High cold mountains in China had long been the “white spots” on map and imaginations in literature and painting. Early modern travelers were botanists, cartographers, geologists, mountaineers, who attempted to understand the white spots through journeys of walking, collecting, measuring and later photographing. One of the high mountains – Mount Gongga, the highest peak of the Hengduan mountain ranges in Southwestern China, embedded expedition stories in 1930s with Europeans and Americans – chasing floras, calculating the height and summiting the peak. With limited facilities to support the travels, those landscape explorers had to carry on equipment, search for routes and challenge the elevations. Today, we can observe infrastructures in construction and burgeoning tourism all over the territory of Mount Gongga. An elevated highway shortens the time of travel between the metropolitan Chengdu Plain and the high mountain; mountain roads enhance the mobility around the alpine zones. The region has become a destination for massive urban explorers searching for exotic landscapes, of its snow cover glaciers, abundant flora and fauna, high elevation and thin air, ethnic villages and organic food, rivers and deep valleys.

 

 

 

This project is part of the Urbanization of Rural China.