VivoCity Singapore

I was in Singapore for a short working trip, presenting a paper called “The Poetics of Occupy Central – A Photo Essay” at an academic conference.

So of course I brought my camera along.

IMG_20150126_0062 640

I spent an evening on my own, a day before wifey joined me at the hotel.

So of course I did the most natural thing that came to me – I pretended to be a tourist at VivoCity.

IMG_20150126_0063 640

Darn – I can’t seem to fit a filter on my lens without it vignetting (see top corners).

IMG_20150126_0064 640

It seems like my Voigtlander 35mm doesn’t like filters.

IMG_20150126_0065 640

I’ve tried a B+W filter, and a Hoya filter as well. They both vignette.

I would be grateful for any advice from readers more knowledgeable than me in this respect.

IMG_20150126_0072 640

Crowded shopping malls depress me.

IMG_20150126_0073 640

There was a bridal fair – and you realize weddings are very regimental affairs.

IMG_20150126_0081 640

Everyone (including myself) is searching for life’s defining moments in a cookie-cutter manner.

IMG_20150126_0076 640

There’s a water park of sorts above the mall.

IMG_20150126_0077 640

The feeling here is more carefree.

IMG_20150126_0078 640

But such scenes are possible only because of the packed shopping crowd below.

They are paid for by all that buying and selling that happens below.

IMG_20150126_0080 640

We all buy and sell in our cookie-cutter lives so as to achieve moments like the one above.

IMG_20150126_0074 640

Of course, it’s not just Singapore or VivoCity that does this.

One could never be truly outside of VivoCity, even if one leaves.

Thanks for reading.


Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35mm F 1.4 Nokton SC

Film: Kodak Bw400CN







Ode to Retail

I don’t usually do color photography as I find it hard to “coordinate” the colors alongside the action in the frame. But the environment in this case seems to call out for it.

This was the beginning of a trip to Festival Walk, a shopping mall. My son wanted to pick up a few books at Page One. We sat at the front of a mini-bus.

IMG_20130827_0009 640 by 480

For those not familiar with Hong Kong: Festival Walk is a gigantic shopping mall with a skating rink and cinema. I often got lost the first few times I was here.

There are so many escalators and reflective surfaces. There is a fun house mirror effect every time we are on the escalators:

IMG_20130827_0025 640 by 480

We forget which way is up and which way is down…

IMG_20130827_0032 640 by 480

I think this is the point, that the design of malls are slightly disorienting so that the shopping experience feels slightly unreal. Our ability at making rational choices are somewhat incapacitated – we lose track of time and spend more than we had originally intended.

IMG_20130827_0034 640 by 480

I am reminded of a hotel called “Lotus Casino” in The Titan’s Curse, a novel in the Percy Jackson series, in which the characters were trapped. They were reluctant to leave the hotel because it was so fun. (The environment of casinos, of course, are meant to be unreal so that the chips [money] you’re losing look inconsequential anyway because you are just playing a game of Monopoly.) I’m thinking of those casinos in Macau now, especially the Greek Mythology Casino, complete with a gigantic statue of Zeus…

Here, the literary scholar in me is reminded of Fredric Jameson’s discussion of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, about how the postmodern architecture is tied in with the (totalitarian?) logic of late capitalism.

It’s so easy in the mall. We look and point and buy:

IMG_20130827_0035 640 by 480

Everything is on show and so very photogenic, and the unreal becomes part of the experienced reality we consume and hence take for real:

IMG_20130827_0028 640 by 480

I almost forgot to leave.