Cheung Chau

On Cheung Chau island.

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The atmosphere is rather relaxed.

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One could dream of a life here.

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It’s one of those possible doorways.

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One could just stand here and admire the wall.

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Lack of love?

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An advertising and laundry space.

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Very homely.

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Though sometimes we could be in a hurry.

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Oh I’m dreaming I’m dreaming of a slower pace of life.

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Is it possible?

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It is possible.

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Maybe I’m romanticizing too much.

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It’s a possibility, I suppose.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2

 

 

A Short Hike

There’s nothing like a short walk to get away from the city, even if it’s just for a bit.

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We all need breaks.

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A short climb.

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Getting there.

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So one could disappear.

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There’s a haiku in there waiting to be written…

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2

The Management of Space in a Village

It goes without saying that space is at a premium in Hong Kong.

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This is true even in the more rural areas.

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Things need to stay organized.

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Nature needs to know its place.

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Heidegger: “Everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering. Whatever is ordered about in this way has its own standing. We call it the standing-reserve.”

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It’s all standing by.

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Nothing is to be wasted.

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It’s all about discipline.

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Places to go, and places you can’t go.

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All these structures are standing, even in our literal absence.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2

 

 

A Short Story

It begins with a journey.

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Then there was land.

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Then there were people.

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It doesn’t take much to make a world.

IMG_20150930_0003 640 A house and a car.

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Neighbours.

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Some rules.

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Some more neighbours.

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And then you have a government.

And then we wait for things to sort themselves out.

In the meantime, my exhibition is still going on – come by if you’re in the area!

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Kodak BW400CN

On Being Careless

To be interested in street photography is to be careless.

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The above might look better if the boats were cut out of the photograph. The subject would be clearer.

But the eyes don’t always discriminate properly.

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Found scenes are things as they are.

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Boats and paths as they are.

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A child as he is.

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There’s an accommodation of sorts.

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An ordering of nature.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Kodak BW400CN

Student Blogs from my MA Course “Writing, Photography, Blogging”

This is becoming more obvious to me now.

A creative detour of sorts (from poetry to street photography as well as my interest in film cameras) which began a few years ago seems to be now taking over my work.

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I’ve been teaching an MA level course at my department with the generic title “Special Topics in Genre Studies”. I’ve shaped it around what I thought would be key genres that are of contemporary interest (Writing, Photography, Blogging). This is the second time I’m running the course.

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An external reviewer from another university who’ve looked at the students’ assignments as well as course materials from the first run of the course commented that this is a course which puts together “creative and critical, theoretical and practical insights” and that it connects “popular culture activities to major strands of 20th century theoretical discourse on creative media”.

I am very much encouraged by this comment and I think the bit about combining the critical with the creative is spot-on in terms of describing what I’m setting out to do.

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Basically, it’s a course for those who are interested in Hong Kong culture.

It’s a project-based course whereby students are encouraged to explore different micro-cultures of Hong Kong and present them (in any way they want) via blogs.

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We would read and discuss the following works together in class:

Clifford Geertz. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture”.

Leon Anderson. “Analytic Autoethnography”. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 35 (4): 373-395.

Marshall McLuhan. Selection sections from Understanding Media.

Georg Simmel. “Metropolis and Mental Life”

Walter Benjamin. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.

Roland Barthes. Selected sections from Camera Lucida.

Martin Heidegger. Selected sections from “The Question Concerning Technology”.

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Selected sections from “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”.

Sontag, Susan. Selected sections from On Photography.

John Berger. “Understanding a Photograph”.

Clive Scott. Selected sections from Street Photography: From Atget to Cartier-Bresson.

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There would be group presentations, and students would write individual auto-ethnographic essays on their learning experience and the experience of micro-cultures they’ve chosen to explore.

I keep telling my students in class that I don’t fully know what I’m doing, and that we’re making it up as we go along. To my mind, this is a course that begins with a few fixed parameters, without fully determining the scope of what is to be learnt.

We start from a few well-known ideas and essays in critical theory and extend the insights to the various HK micro-cultures we’re interested in. A group (some of them are teachers) is working on school culture. Another is working on what 5.30pm means to Hong Kong. They’ve more or less decided on taking (street) photographs at exactly 5.30pm. Another group is working on wet markets.

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I remember that in the previous run of the course, there were projects on the neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po, street temples, as well as interviews with the practitioners of “da siu yan” (people you hire to beat paper figurines of your enemies in public with slippers). There was an essay on the travel discourse of Hong Kong people via the analysis of a video by the Hong Kong indie band My Little Airport.

The projects, incorporating elements of street photography, are turning out to be urban ethnographies of sorts.

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Here’re the student blogs:

hkbynight.wordpress.com

fishflops.blogspot.hk

fragmentsofeducation.wordpress.com

lifeiselsewhere2015wordpresscom.wordpress.com

memorystoresite.wordpress.com

revitalisesoldhongkong.wordpress.com

libraryofunicorns.wordpress.com

530inhk.wordpress.com

ohgeno.wordpress.com

I tell my class that perhaps blogging could be a tool for intellectual engagement.

In some ways, I’m already doing it myself.

A series of entries on the Umbrella Movement in this blog have culminated in a conference presentation, which in turn have been reworked into the editorial essay “The Poetics of the Umbrella Movement” in the literary journal Cha.

Thanks for reading!

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Kodak BW400CN

On Sense and Sensibility

What, really, is there to talk about when it comes to street photography?

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In the end, we’re capturing our selves.

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And the constraints that shape us.

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Street photography is another way of thinking.

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Another way of looking.

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Sometimes the scene seems a bit bare.

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Until one encounters a human figure.

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The art is long and life so short.

In the meantime, my exhibition is still on-going – come by if you’re in the area.

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Kodak BW400CN