Existence is a matter of relativity for mainland photographer Li Tianyuan. He produces huge triptychs which represent a single location from three different perspectives: outer space, on Earth, and at the cellular level. It's a simple yet innovative concept that has propelled Li to the front ranks of China's new wave of photographers. The triptychs, which are on display at Plum Blossoms galleries in Hong Kong and New York, all stick to the same format. The first panel is a photograph taken with a satellite camera in space - life on Earth as viewed from far away. The second panel is photo-journalistic in style and shows the same location as we'd usually see it down here on the ground. The third is a shot of part of the scene through a microscopic lens. Li wants to remind viewers that the universe exists on many planes - most of which lie outside everyday experience. 'When you're on the mountain, you can't see the mountain,' says the jovial Li at Plum Blossoms' New York gallery. 'The bigger picture is outside the range of your experience. That's what my triptychs are about. In daily life, our vision is restricted because of the mundane way we live our lives. 'We're blind to all the things going on around us. So I try to show things from different perspectives. 'The triptychs give three different views of the same situation. It's a juxtaposition that makes viewers think a little more about their position on the planet.' Li says that if we look at something from a different angle, our feelings about it change. That's why he thinks the broad viewpoint his works provide is important. 'The first photo-graphs show the Earth in pictures taken from outer space. Everything that we worry about seems very trivial from that perspective,' he says. 'Even wars and conflicts don't seem that important.' 'Then we come down to the human viewpoint in the second part of the triptychs. At the human point, these things suddenly become very important again. Then we disappear into the microcosmic level for the third picture and, again, our human concerns just seem to disappear.' Li's pieces can be approached in two different ways. To the scientifically minded, they appear to be precise, almost academic works that dissect the reality of a scene. But others have seen them as more spiritual compositions, akin to Buddhist mandalas. Li himself says they have no such theoretical backgrounds. Like many Chinese who remember the horrors that social and political theories brought, Li says he distrusts any kind of philosophical system. 'I've never intended to make my work either rational or spiritual,' he says. 'I'm against all kinds of philosophies. I want people to approach my artwork with a pure mind. You have to clear your mind of all that baggage before you look at it. 'If you do that, you might discover something new about what you're seeing, or about yourself. For me, these pictures aren't just expressions of a philosophical point of view. I see them as living things - living things that we can learn something from.' The 39-year-old artist likes to discuss his work. Born in Harbin, he originally studied painting. He still paints, and exhibits his work alongside his photographs. 'Harbin is a cultured city,' he says. 'Everyone there is either playing music or learning to paint. I started to draw when I was really young. I went to art school when I was 15, and eight years later I became an art teacher. So I've always been involved in the arts.' Li says he turned to photography because he thought it was a better way of expressing his ideas than painting, although he says he doesn't find much difference between the two now. His ideas about outer space grew from a project he carried out at art school, when a scientific academy commissioned some photographs. 'I had to co-operate with a group of scientists, and I found it interesting,' he says. Now he's directly linked to a scientific research centre in China. 'The centre notifies me when their satellite is going to shoot a picture of Beijing,' he says. 'This usually happens once a month. They tell me the spot, and I go there and shoot a picture at the same time as the satellite. Then I buy the picture from them. I mark the area I shoot on the satellite picture with a little circle.' Outer space and art school training have both played a part in his ideas. 'When I first started learning about painting, I was taught that you have to push the subject further away, or draw it a bit closer,' he says. 'You have to see it from different positions to understand it. 'I try to use a similar broadminded approach when observing things in daily life.' Li hopes his works will set the minds of his viewers free from their humdrum existence. 'I want to liberate their minds by inspiring them to think about things in a different way,' he says.