Photography Today

Photography = a piece of belonging?

“To the imagination, to memory, nothing is really lost if
it is experienced with affirmation. … In my photographs…,
I attempt to arrive at something poetic, something I can hold on to both as an image and as emotional sustenance…”

Taken From Memory published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg is the result of a 25-year long-time project by American photographer Sheron Rupp (b. 1943 in Mansfield, Ohio). Searching for connections to her own biographical past, Rupp took these photographs in rural America looking to find a piece of someone else’s life to give her a sense of “belonging”. Personal in nature, these photographs offer a stirring glimpse into the life in the commonly disregarded rural areas and small towns between the bustling metropolises of the East and West Coast. Without pretence or irony, without assertation or judgment, Rupp’s impressions from the past also work as a commentary on today’s US society.

To be honest, just judging from seeing the images on the screen, I like some of the images from the book, but I’m not in love with it. But what I really want to talk about from this book is what Rupp said, “these photographs were taken at a time when I felt desperate to find a piece of someone else’s life, which could give me a sense of ‘belonging.’” The question is, aren’t we all photographing something which gives us a sense of ‘belonging’? Isn’t that the reason why we take pictures? Because that’s the stuff we care so much about, which basically is really something that we truly want to be associated with? I belong to this community, I belong with this concept, I belong with this social issue. We are objectifying these feelings into images and prints so that we can hold onto and present them, so others who happen to want to ‘belong’ to the same space would resonate, would want to be part of it?

The notion of making pictures feels like a constant need to lead ourselves to be part of something, to belong somewhere, to associate with a moment in time. I don’t know for certain. It’s a theory I came up with. But what’s intriguing is the work by Dawn Parsonage which maybe is one of the outliers of this theory. Her “boring” series brilliantly highlights the private struggles we all face when bored – the struggle to find meaning, to find ways to occupy our restless minds. Do we want to be bored? Especially living in the 21st century when mass information can be loaded for you every second? I certainly don’t think that this is a concept that modern people would want to belong with, but it is no doubt a piece of us that we have and most often deny.

© Dawn Parsonage, from the work ‘Boring’; Source @ Dawn Parsonage

While some works remind us about what we care about, what we want to belong to; some remind us about what really belongs with us that we are constantly fighting to avoid or deny.

References: http://theheavycollective.com/2019/05/05/qa-sheron-rupp-taken-from-memory/

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Photography Today, The Art of Philosophy

Graffiti – a form of art or vandalism?

 

 

 

Graffiti isn’t something that we usually come across with in the walks of Hong Kong streets. Here the streets are almost always clean and free from street and public art. In these 4 months and counting of the political outburst from the anti-extradition bill, there’s been a blossom of graffitis, spray-paint wordings, sticker arts, poster arts, street installation arts etc in all 18 districts of Hong Kong.

Almost everyday I have to take a cross-harbour bus to work, and everyday I walk on this footbridge from where the bus stop was to the MTR station, a journey of less than 5 minutes. On that footbridge, each and every time I walked along it, I am surrounded by graffitis and poster arts about the current political movement, slightly different every week.

One day from almost a month ago, out of the blue, the footbridge was swiped clean. The graffitis were wiped out and the posters were torn down, as if nothing happened – life goes on and the footbridge walkway becomes just as how it was before. This change threw me,

why does the society (well government) wants these to be cleaned? Were they “not-clean” beforehand? If so, what is “not-clean” about these graffitis? Is it because of the content? If so, surely only people who have knowledge of Chinese can understand it, or else it’s just a bunch of symbols? Or, is it because it is damaging properties? That it is somehow destroying the artistic minimalism of the property? What is the intention behind wiping these out? Is it really just about “cleanness” or are there hidden agenda e.g. induce the idea of forgetting / erasing what happened? There are actually street arts in parts of Hong Kong e.g. the one on Hollywood road, what makes someone / a group of authorities to say this can be on the wall and that can’t? What values are they judging by for these types of “art”?

During the movement these 4 months, there were actually street installations of origami cranes e.g. outside Fortress Hill station, why were these being removed? If the phrase 「時代革命,光復香港」were spray-painted with a bit more artistic quality and aesthetics elements, would they be considered more art than vandalism?

So many questions popped up from the experience that day, which led me to read up and research about the history of graffitis, the type of graffitis there are, why and how graffitis came about and how it relates to culture and politics (which will be discussed in the next blog post).

 

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Photography Today

What makes a good photograph?

Interesting read from BJP’s article on “what makes a good photograph.”

Everything created is relative to taste and time. The work that seems like a mistake in this context, in this era, at this place may be viewed different elsewhere. It is this that we as photographers or artists need to keep in mind and still work diligently towards producing work and making art.

What resonates with me the most from this article is that, mistakes, often we disregard them, we want to redo things the way we want, we think that they are bad. But for these featured artists as well as me, is that we have a mindset of honestly accepting the mistakes we made, and see how we can turn that to something else creatively.

“Mistakes is a point of entrance to something new. The mistake reveals something that you may not have thought about before: a new way of making photographs.”

The point is, to keep making mistakes. And to keep practising.

https://www.bjp-online.com/2019/08/what-makes-a-good-photograph/

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Photography Today

Photography as narratives, and how social media is shaping it?

Recently I’ve read some articles that I felt somehow are linked together – one was talking about photography as a narrative medium, what position exactly does it stand? One was about photographs getting censored in IG, and how the platform works is now questionable as technology and the line of ethics blurs, the final one is about how social media shapes our identity.

Why I think they are closely linked because since the development of social media e.g. FB and IG, the use and function of photography has widen and is constantly tied in with our everyday life. Anyone who knows how to use a phone can easily snap a photo to represent something about him/her and post it on social media. Narrating our own stories is easier than ever. It is cheap, fast and skill-less. While this is happening, yes – artists and crafters can easily share works to the world wide public, and art doesn’t have to be something prestige anymore, but some worries about the code of ethics and whether e.g. nude photographs is same as porn. Plus the recent news about images of a murdered victim has been posted on social media, how are we using photography and social media? Should there be some sort of policy? But if one company uses its powers to decree which art can be shown and which art can’t, then art isn’t free. What solutions can there be?

Especially now with teens who are born in the Internet era, they are the cyborgs of constantly documenting their life experiences with images. How are they using photography and social media? How is this culture shaping their identity?

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Photography Today

Make a photobook – from start to end

 

This is a good documentary video about how Clare Strand, a conceptual artist, worked with MACK publisher on her book “Girls plays with snake.”. From concept, to developing into a form of a book.

What I love about what MACK said was, “the book is an ideal translation of the ideas and concept from the author. Avoid excess of design, causing the ideas to be a distraction. As long as the content is good then it’s easy to make a good book.”

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