Threats, old & new

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Besides being used to mark the passage of time, drum towers in the centers of traditional towns were used by the state to raise the alarm and prepare for defense (or to seek refuge) when hostilities from invaders/raiders were imminent. Today, like many aspects of ancient China, this tower’s seeming reward for weathering the millennia is a splash of “modern” ubiquitous Disney-fication that is applied nearly universally to all things “old” – here, in the form of neon green spotlights. However, there’s been a deeper, more subtle change as well – that of perspective.

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Historically, watchers posted in this tower would have eyes trained on the far horizon in search of threats. Today, the watchers remain, but their (now electronic) gaze is  cast downwards into the bustling night market around the tower.

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