Walls are like barriers. They block access and stop people on either side from communicating. However, if you look closely, what's on one side of a wall can give clues to, and sometimes even reveal, what lies behind it. That's the reason photographer and former war correspondent Jeffrey du Vallier d'Aragon Aranita finds walls fascinating. When Sars broke out last year, he spent a fortnight visiting 13 sites in Hong Kong that were affected by the deadly virus. These images are now on show at his latest exhibition entitled 13 Chinese Walls, 2001-2003, which is part of City Fringe. The collection is just one element of an experimental multimedia project comprising over 3,000 large-scale printed and projected images. Aranita says his grandmother was said to possess the gift of being able to connect the spirits of the dead with living relatives and to divine hidden meanings. 'Perhaps she would have been able to read a wall and then know what the people beyond were really like,' Aranita says. 'Unfortunately I don't have this gift but I try to look at things that concern others with a great degree of respect. She, and other ogamisama [spirit medium] of her order, were once an essential part of a Japanese village culture that has now nearly disappeared. 'I lived with her as a young boy and I used to hide and watch as she talked to devotees. While I didn't know exactly what they were talking about, the thought of how this frail and blind old woman could bring so many people to tears, and then to a peaceful calm stuck in my mind.' The theme of 13 Chinese Walls is based on traces of traditional Chinese village architecture and culture still found on walls in mainland cities as well as throughout Chinatowns around the world. 'Walls have always been very important in Chinese culture; it has something to do with reading the lives of people living behind them,' says Aranita, who was born on Moorea island in French Polynesia. To illustration his point, he cites one of the best known of the ancient Chinese novels, Outlaws Of The Marsh, which is set in the final years of Hui Zong, a Song Dynasty emperor who reigned from 1101 to 1125. 'It tells why and how some one hundred old men and women banded together on a marshy mountain top and became leaders of an outlaw army who fought brave battles against tyrants,' Aranita explains. 'In a climactic scene, hero and leader Song Jiang makes his revolutionary declaration against the corrupt state with a poem drunkenly scrawled on a teahouse wall.' A more recent example is the Democracy Wall. In 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping designated a wall in Beijing where people could freely write down their thoughts. Huge 'big character' posters appeared. But the Democracy Wall movement was suppressed in late 1979. Aranita says his pictures tell a tale. 'The ideas behind these pictures are fairly self-evident as I don't like to unnecessarily burden viewers with obscure theoretical concepts,' he says. 13 Chinese Walls, 2001-2003 is on at the Volkswagen Fotogalerie in the Fringe Club until January 20. Admission is free.