Whisper to Heaven
Whisper to Heaven
Project by Chris Rayn · 2012 - 2013
  

Whisper to Heaven

[Take a tour]
A young woman clad in white fur, and white incense smoke

01 Whisper to Heaven

A young woman clad in white fur, and white incense smoke

A scarf-clad Chinese girl shares her look into the future

02 The Girl With the Woolen Scarf

A scarf-clad Chinese girl shares her look into the future

A moment of tranquility in a temple filled with smoke and cr

03 Chaos Be Gone

A moment of tranquility in a temple filled with smoke and cr

Holding a red envelope, for good fortune in the new year

04 The Red Envelope

Holding a red envelope, for good fortune in the new year

Light falling through incense smoke, a mystic atmosphere

05 Sunken Light

Light falling through incense smoke, a mystic atmosphere

Three joss sticks, a most auspicious sign

06 The Rule of Three

Three joss sticks, a most auspicious sign

A praying woman in front of a wall of smoke in the temple

07 Praying Yin

A praying woman in front of a wall of smoke in the temple

A praying man in front of a wall of smoke in the temple

08 Praying Yang

A praying man in front of a wall of smoke in the temple

With smoky incense, steaming ahead in the New Year

09 Steam Ahead

With smoky incense, steaming ahead in the New Year

A moment of prayer, a split second of great symmetry

10 Split Second

A moment of prayer, a split second of great symmetry

Well-protected from the cold, a young woman in deep prayer

11 Buttoned Up

Well-protected from the cold, a young woman in deep prayer

Smoke billows around a spectacled man in the Chinese temple

12 Smoked Glass

Smoke billows around a spectacled man in the Chinese temple

Catching fire, a praying man holds his joss sticks tight

13 Reign of Fire

Catching fire, a praying man holds his joss sticks tight

A Chinese praying girl, looking up to her future

14 Looking Up

A Chinese praying girl, looking up to her future

A couple sharing a moment of prayer, engulfed in incense

15 A Future Together

A couple sharing a moment of prayer, engulfed in incense

About the Project

Every New Year, people around the world look forward to the future, make resolutions and wish for good luck, health and prosperity in the year ahead. In the Chinese world, this universal human custom has a religious subtext, as people - rich and poor, young and old alike - rush to the temples on Chinese New Year's eve and in the first days of the Spring Festival to pray to the Gods and ask for protection during the next twelve months. Decorated with red lanterns and filled with the ubiquitous smell of incense, the temples are a very solemn place during this time, as for many people it is their most important visit during the year.

This project, created during the New Years of the Dragon and the Snake, portrays this most auspicious, most intimate and most graceful moment of temple goers, as they grab a joss stick, light it in the fire, hold it up, close their eyes and experience a very personal moment despite the smoke and the crowds around them. Featuring bold close-ups and a strong interplay of the incense's supernatural blues and warm reds as a symbol of luck, it creates an otherworldly, almost dream-like atmosphere on the one hand, while strongly focusing on the human element - the hopes, the wishes and thoughts of people's inner lives that come to the forefront here - on the other hand. By highlighting these universal emotions evident in people's faces, the project draws attention to how we all share similiar hopes and wishes accross borders, languages and cultures. For all people alike, the New Year is a time of hope for a better future - for themselves, their loved ones, society and all of humankind.