How We Live with Concrete

I’m fascinated by what you could see when coming down the Mid-Levels Escalator at Central in Hong Kong.

You could see lots of small businesses, restaurants and shops.

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You could also see unruly leaves and branches against grey concrete buildings.

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They’re part of human activity.

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Things happen, though they don’t always announce themselves.

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Life is understated sometimes.

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At other times, it is in your face.

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This is how concrete lives.

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How we live with concrete.

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The unruly beauty of nature and concrete.

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We can’t help but look again and again.

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2 400

 

Slow Down

We’ll need to slow down.

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We can’t think like skyscrapers.

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We need to dwell a little bit.

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Take a walk.

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Sometimes to be inane is to make sense.

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A certain order at a certain time.

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Think good thoughts.

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Let a thousand thoughts flourish.

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So we need a better government of our selves.

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So as not to run aground.

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm 1.4 SC

Film: Kodak BW400CN

 

Notes to Self

The past few posts have been about Occupy Central.

After all, we could only occupy what’s central to our hearts.

This post is a change of pace.

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I’ve talked about a few sights on the campus where I work in this post.

It’s a 20-minute walk down the hill from my office and it gives me time to think about what I’m doing and where I’m going in terms of my poetry, photography, research and teaching.

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We all need space to dwell and grow.

I’m grateful to be where I am, in an unpretentious and authentic space, in service of a community I feel committed to.

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Once in a while, you need to be empty in order to be filled.

So yes, I’ll need to fill up that container eventually (figuratively speaking).

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And find a sense of balance.

Sometimes, I take a 5-minute detour and I’ll see this on my way home.

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That red flower is beautiful, but it is beautiful not in itself, but in where it is.

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And 5 minutes later, I’ll see this.

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We swim in the pond in which we find ourselves.

And in every moment there is a painterly harmony to be sought.

This is what I’m looking for in my photographs and in my work in general, and what I’m looking for in myself.

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander 35mm F 1.4 Nokton Classic SC

Film: Fuji Natura 1600

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

I finally visited Gardens by the Bay.

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Check out the cool-looking Supertrees which are vertical gardens.

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The above, I suppose, is an obligatory picturesque shot.

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It’s a good place for photographers.

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Lots of selfie moments.

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You don’t really need to think to get a good shot – there’s something to be said about the blending of technology and nature at this place.

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Picture-perfect convenient nature (if that’s what you like).

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We’re in Flower Dome, one of the 2 conservatories here.

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Mummy, daddy and baby cactus.

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Phallus cactus.

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Eagle photographer.

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Eager photographer.

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The future of tech and nature.

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That’s Cloud Forest, another conservatory.

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As I’m walking around, I can’t help but think perhaps this is the future of botany.

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Maybe in the next twenty years, we’ll all be living in domes like this.

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The temperature is nice though.

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That’s the mineral exhibit area. Guess how I took this shot.

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I’m a street photography genius…

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This takes a lot of work.

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Kudos to those who’ve put in the hard work to make this possible.

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Oops – my lens fogged up when I stepped out of the conservatory.

I love mistakes like this.

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I’m a nature photographer!

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This is a nice blend of botany, technology, architecture, commerce, tourism and nation building.

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A William Gibson quote: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

Check out my Saatchi Art page!

 

 

 

 

 

Anecdote of the Jar

I’m not sure if this is considered street photography, but I suppose so, if street photography is about scenes that are found rather than staged, about scenes that say something about the interactions between human beings and their environment.

For those interested in film photography: all photographs are taken with Contax TVS, loaded with Superia Venus 800. That’s the gear I carry these days. This post is inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Anecdote of the Jar”:

I placed a jar in Tennessee,

And round it was, upon a hill.

It made the slovenly wilderness

Surround that hill.

 

The wilderness rose up to it,

And sprawled around, no longer wild.

The jar was round upon the ground

And tall and of a port in air.

 

It took dominion everywhere.

The jar was gray and bare.

It did not give of bird or bush,

Like nothing else in Tennessee.

 

A quick Google search will reveal various possible readings to the poem, so I’ll suppress my inner poetry geek as much as I can.

 

I’ll simply say that at the minimum, the poem is about the relationship between human artifacts and nature.

 

The take-away philosophical point is that a man-made object placed/installed in nature changes nature.

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Is nature a rubbish dump, a depository of things no longer useful?

 

The joker in me tells me it’s a supermarket shopping cart that has lost its way.

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Nature is nature.

 

A journey into what nature is is man-made.

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Is nature a resource we exploit?

 

I am reminded of the following lines from Heidegger’s essay “The Question Concerning Technology’ , about how our instrumentalist attitude to nature (and everything else) reduces everything into a “standing-reserve”, as means for other ends:

 

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. (Heidegger “Question Concerning Technology”)

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We’ve learnt to frame nature.

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And in our arrogance, we forget it is nature that frames us.

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Perhaps we’re the ones putting obstacles between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and ourselves.

Continue reading “Anecdote of the Jar”

A 20-minute Walk

My university is sprawled on the side of a hill, and my office is at its second-highest point.

A few brave souls walk up the hill to work every morning.

Me, I take the shuttle bus up in the morning and walk down the hill in the evening.

It takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on the state of my tummy.

That’s my workout …

That’s the Pavilion of Harmony at New Asia College, at one side of the topmost plateau.

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It all looks very Chinese …

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The above views are taken with my Canonet QL17 GIII, loaded with Kodak  Color Plus 200.

The ones below are with my Minolta AF-C, with Kodak Portra 400.

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I’ve been doing this commute every work day for the past 7 years, walking down the hill.

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For the first time, I looked at the hillside.

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These are shadows of bamboo on the hillside.

Followed by some fish (koi?) pond thing with a picturesque arrangement of a pale-green rubber hose…

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And the Chinese-looking bridge…

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A Chinese-looking bench I’ve never seen anyone sit on …

A mini-waterfall…

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There’s that picturesque almost-identical rubber hose again…

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A suitcase advertising a few film screenings at the foot of the hill…

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And then the road…

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Quiet Rural Hong Kong

Mention Hong Kong and you would think of skyscrapers, crowded streets, and the wonderful dimsum.

But there’s a quieter, meditative side to Hong Kong as well.

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You could find scenes like these…

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These are the views you get if you’re willing to live in somewhat out-of-the-way village houses.

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These are really quiet, meditative spots.

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If you’re willing to live near a farm…

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And this, too, is an environment where we could live with ourselves…

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Thanks for reading!