MA Course Jan-Apr 2017

This is the third time I’m running this MA course called “Special Topics in Genre Studies”, one of those umbrella course titles which allow us to teach a variety of topics.

The class is subtitled “Writing, Photography and Blogging”. In it, we explore topics to do with autoethnography, street photography, as well as social media.

The course is basically an occasion for students to explore various Hong Kong micro cultures that intrigue them through the mediums of street photography, reflective writing and blogging.

I’ve blogged about how we have to work through a number of readings concerning thick description, autoethnography, etc, in an earlier run of the course here.

We’re currently into the second week of student presentations.

There’s still one more week to go but so far, things have been great. I’m actually learning so much.

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Group 1 is working on hongkongkidz. There was a comment made concerning kids’ behaviour on public transport, on how children basically tend to play little games with themselves, hence turning urban transport spaces into playgrounds of sorts. Thus for children, to be on public transport is to be on a journey of sorts, in contrast to adults, to whom public transport is about the daily commute. Another person from the group focused on education. A point was made concerning the rather Panoptic surveillance technology in the classroom – the teacher could actually see on his own screen what individual students were looking at on their monitors. Another person talked about the phenomenon of “Monster parents” and “Kong kids”, concerning how over-protective parents are creating a generation of emotionally dependent children.

Group 2 is working on the theme of leading a slow-paced life in fast-paced Hong Kong. A point has been made concerning how clocks are everywhere in public spaces, on how speed is a disease. Their photographs represent a search for spaces where time seems to slow down. They made connections with the slow food movement, pointing out how the practice of yumcha is actually a deliberate slowing down of the pace of life.

Group 3 focuses on the colour red. There is a degree of randomness here, in that they went about taking pictures of red objects in public spaces. A point has been made concerning how the arbitrary act of paying attention to the colour has enabled one of them to notice objects that posit various cultural narratives that she would otherwise miss. Another presenter made a point concerning how traditional Chinese products make use of red as a cultural marker of nostalgia.

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Group 4 is working on hkpsychogeography. A point has been made concerning how Hong Kong’s public spaces have an excessive tendency to make themselves legible through signboards. This in inevitable especially given Hong Kong’s population density. We simply cannot afford have large groups of people getting lost and wandering about. There’s irony involved when one sees bills on walls warning against posting bills on walls.  One of the presenters noted how makeshift political statements are often pasted on various signboards, hence making the political will of Hong Kong people legible.

Group 5 indulged their curiosity concerning horseracing in Hong Kong. They made a point concerning social stratification at the horse races, about how the social elites are in the booths whereas the general public are in the bleachers. This in turn led to a comment concerning how the same thing happened at the theater in Shakespeare’s time. A point has been made concerning how a vice becomes civilized via ticketing procedures and protocols. The presentation got me thinking about the possible analogies to be made concerning picking horses vs picking stocks. Perhaps the various life choices we make, such as picking a course of study, our careers, etc, are subject to the same sort of rational calculations in a world that is sometimes arbitrary/random.

There are still 2 more groups who will present next week. One project concerns transportation culture while the other has to do with boundaries in urban spaces.



Common Things

This is just a follow up from my previous post, Mundane Objects.

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There’s always an exhibition waiting to happen.

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Things discarded, things poetic.

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To look is to give it meaning.

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A regulation of things.

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A potential.

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A hint.

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Camera: Canon Prima Twin S

Film: Fuji Superia Venus 800

Rural Views

I’m here again and again.

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It doesn’t look like much – but it has wonderful views.

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The environment is a work of art.

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The mood is always leisurely.

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The debris is zen.

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There’s artless beauty here.

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I’m happy to be marooned here.

Camera: Contax TVS II

Film: Venus 800

Against a Wall

This has been done many times before.

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I really like this wall.

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There’s texture, brick by brick.

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The colour is luminous.

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The window is dark enough.

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I’m a fly on the wall.

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Nice door.

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There’s no end to the stream of individuals.

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All deep in thought.

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Conversing with their individual humanity.

Camera: Olympus XA 3

Film: Kodak UltraMax 400

Olympus XA 3

Sometimes, it is a pain when you realize that what you have is actually good enough.

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Sad is the man who realizes he does not have a good excuse to buy another camera.

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What happens if you’re already happy with your Olympus XA 2 as a street camera?

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You go out and buy an Olympus XA 3, of course.

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It’s the same difference.

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There’re differences between a Olympus XA 2 and XA 3, of course.

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What this also means is that I could go out with 2 different films.

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One could be loaded with a colour film and the other with a b/w film.

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Or they could have films of different ISOs.

Ah – the joys of street photography.

Camera: Olympus XA 3

Film: Kodak UltraMax 400

Some more Shamshuipo

I’m still walking around…

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The streets are exhibitions waiting to speak.

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What would the stall say?

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What’s he thinking about?

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We’re all concealed by what we buy and sell.

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We all buy and sell.

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We’re all waiting.

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Until it’s all meat…

Camera: Olympus XA2

Film: Ilford XP2 400

Street Photography and Tourism

I’ve set a challenge for myself – to do tourism slightly differently.

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It’s a way of not spending money.

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Go to touristy sites and look at tourists.

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Turn that obligatory landmark photo into a street photograph.

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And then suddenly, everyday life becomes intriguing.

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Quiet moments are especially beautiful.

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You could still be a tourist in the Tube.

Thanks for reading!

Camera: Olympus XA2

Film: Ilford XP2