Lives behind the Numbers 从此没人和你说话

April 3, 2020 2020年4月3日
Detail of Paris Attacks (13 November, 2015) (局部)《2015.11.13 巴黎恐怖袭击事件》

On January 7, 2015, as the Paris offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo were being attacked, Chinese photographer Hé Bo sat at the café in the Louvre, scrolling through social media on his phone. Outside the window the world had been irrevocably shaken, but inside, wholly unaware, people carried on as usual.

Within a few days, Paris held a massive anti-terror march. “But I listened to my family, who told me not to take part,” Hé recalls, “which left me with the same sense of helplessness that I felt during the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, when I was away from my hometown,” he says. “Maybe this feeling is what led to my obsession with terrorist attacks and other tragedies.

This feeling provided Hé with the direct inspiration for his series Since Then, No One Has Talked with You.

2015 1 7 日,法国《查理周刊》巴黎总部遭到突袭时,来自摄影师何博正坐在卢浮宫的咖啡馆里刷朋友圈。窗外的世界已经开始动荡,而屋子里的人往往浑然不知。



Charlie Hebdo Shooting (7 January, 2015) 《2015.1.7 法国“查理周刊”总部袭击事件》
London Bombings (7 July, 2005) 《2005.7.7 伦敦地铁爆炸案》

Click here to hear the audio content of Hé Bo’s series Since Then, No One Has Talked with You.


Detail of London Bombings (7 July, 2005) (局部)《2005.7.7 伦敦地铁爆炸案》

The title of the series is taken from a song by singer Li Zhi, whose music is banned in China. Studying journalism for four years as an undergraduate and covering local news as an intern left Hé with a deep sense of the “powerlessness of the reporter,” as he puts it.

“Mass tragedies turn individuals we’ve never met into numbers we understand even less,” Hé says. “In a lot of natural and manmade tragedies, the dead are just numbers: 15 people have died, say, or tens of thousands of people have died. We don’t get any more information, we don’t hear their stories—or at least it’s hard to do so in traditional media outlets. As individuals become numbers, we stand safely on the sidelines, and it’s hard to put our own emotions and thoughts into an event personally experienced by others. Eventually all we can do is grow numb, or offer perfunctory thoughts and prayers and congratulate ourselves.” That’s why, when looking at a tragedy, Hé always starts by trying to connect with individual people, to communicate with them, even if the conversation is one-sided.

Hé looks at both halves of violence and terrorist attacks: victims and victimizers.




Detail of Brussels Bombings (22 March, 2016) (局部)《2016.3.22 布鲁塞尔恐怖袭击事件》

The six images in Since Then, No One Has Talked with You, which all relate to terrorism or violence, are composed along lines suggested by the English scholar Francis Galton: the foundation of each work is a portrait of terrorists or murderers whose identity has been confirmed by the media, which Hé pieces together from countless photographs of or about the event. Arranged in uneven lines across the surface of the portrait are red-tinted close-ups of the victims’ mouths. These lines of cropped images spell out a sentence about the event in Morse code.

《从此没人和你说话》系列所含六幅和恐怖或暴力事件关联的图像,还包括六个与之对应的音频,是何博按照英国学者弗朗西斯·高尔顿(Francis Galton)提出过的方式创作而成。他把事件中已被媒体确认的加害者肖像合成到一起,作为每幅作品的基底,而组成这些肖像的细小元素,则是此次事件相关的大量图片。肖像之上覆盖着事件受害者的嘴部特写,这些红色正方形截图共同构成了一句与事件相关的话语,并以摩斯密码的形式呈现。

Brussels Bombings (22 March, 2016) 《2016.3.22 布鲁塞尔恐怖袭击事件》
Paris Attacks (13 November, 2015) 《2015.11.13 巴黎恐怖袭击事件》

Click here to hear the audio content of Bo Hé’s series Since Then, No One Has Talked with You.


What Hé personally finds most moving in the series is the line that appears on the piece Paris Attacks (13 November, 2015). It’s by a French man named Antoine Leiris, whose wife died in the tragedy. “In an open letter to the attackers, he said something that I turned into the Morse code message for the image: ‘Responding to hate with anger means giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.'” Leiris later published a book titled You Will Not Have My Hate. For Hé, Leiris’s powerful conviction, built on sorrow and rationalism, makes him “believe more firmly in the complexity and powers of self-healing that people experiencing such tragedies possess. It’s hard to explain clearly in simple words.”

系列中最让何博自己触动的,是《2015.11.13 巴黎恐怖袭击事件》里,一位失去爱人的法国男人 Antoine Leiris。“他曾表示过,‘用愤怒来对付仇恨意味着屈服于同样的无知,正是这种无知让你变成了现在的你’。这句话也是关于此次事件的图片里被转换成摩斯密码的内容。何博说,后来 Antoine 出了本书叫《你们无法得到我的恨》,建立在悲痛之上、尽量理性的自我说服,力透纸背,让何博“更加相信灾祸中人的复杂性以及强大的自愈能力,是难以用简单的话语去讲清楚的”。

Beslan School Siege (1 September, 2004 – 3 September, 2004) 《2004.9.1-3 别斯兰人质事件》
Columbine High School Massacre (20 April, 1999) 《1999.4.20 科伦拜恩校园枪击事件》

Click here to hear the audio content of Bo Hé’s series Since Then, No One Has Talked with You.


Another piece in the series, titled Beslan School Siege (1 September, 2004 – 3 September, 2004), is about an event in which hundreds of people were held hostage in a sports facility. “What options did they have for transmitting messages to the outside world? My guess is that it could have been the Morse code used in the military,” Hé explains. This code, the biggest obstacle in series, is hiding on the surface of works themselves.

It’s an obstacle Hé has intentionally constructed, and it establishes a division among viewers—just as in everyday life, when we make a decision either to overcome an obstacle or to go around it. “Some viewers glance at the images and then leave. Some choose to stay longer, using the Morse code table to translate the message hidden in the work,” he says. “But even if they make the effort to decode the line, they’ve simply completed a task. For the most part it won’t help them understand the purported truth behind it.”

“Nowadays, a few simple words or incomplete information can often make us jump on a bandwagon,” he adds. “Blindness or barriers always exist. In fact, this is the most intractable conflict the series aims to address.”

这组作品里有一张是《2004.9.1-9.3 别斯兰人质事件,当时几百个人质被凶手劫持在体育馆之后,“他们有哪些可能性向外界传递信息?我猜测可能会用到军事领域里面的摩尔斯码。”而这组作品里的障碍就是隐藏在作品中的密码:摩斯密码。



Detail of Beslan School Siege (1 September, 2004 – 3 September, 2004) (局部)《2004.9.1-3 别斯兰人质事件》

Contrasting news reports with art, Hé says that in-depth reporting and photojournalism always try to “reach” specific people, to establish a relationship between them and the reader or spectator. “Yet art trails behind somewhat, appearing as news stories recede. A lot of writers and artists return to events a short time or even many years later, to face them again and rethink them.”

“That’s why I choose art. It can gradually generate possibilities for establishing a new relationship with the past. For contemporary and future viewers, these possibilities mean moments of intersection with history.” Since Then, No One Has Talked with You was a Jurors’ Pick at the 2020 Lens Culture Exposure Awards for “giving voice to those no longer alive.” Ada Takahashi, who selected the work, notes that the images “compel the viewer to look longer and reflect on these acts of terror.”

Perhaps contemplating this series can prompt viewers who see only numbers in catastrophic events to look more closely, and to reflect on what those numbers are really made up of: real people.


“所以我选择艺术,是可以缓慢地制造某种跟过去再次发生关系的可能性,这些可能性对于一些当下和后世的受众来说,意味着同历史产生交集的契机。”《从此没人和你说话》这个摄影系列,近期刚刚荣获 2020 Lens Culture Exposure Awards 2020 Lens Culture 曝光奖)的评委特别推荐奖。点评如是写道:“(此作品)通过这种方式让那些逝去的生命得以发声 […] 而他作品中的某些元素 […] 也让观众能够停下来,用更长的时间观看并思考这些恐怖主义行为。”


Like our stories? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.




Contributor: Chen Yuan

喜欢我们的故事?欢迎关注我们 Neocha 的微博微信




供稿人: Chen Yuan

You Might Also Like你可能会喜欢