Photography these days is in a strange place:
Everybody snaps so many pictures, they have lost all value.
So much is being done in Photoshop, there is little reality anymore.
And many photographers are among the most-followed people online.
One of the great fascinations of photography is the insight into other places and other people’s lives that it gives.
Even in times of seemingly pervasive Photoshop-ing (and even given the long history of photographic fakery), there is a power to the photojournalistic image.
See: Dead Syrian refugee boy on Turkey beach.
But also, if you know of it: “How the Other Half Lives.”
Snap, snap, snap. Every new scene, another new pic – and life is missed as one is hidden behind the lens rather than fully there. Or so a common complaint goes, but photography also offers a host of lessons for making oneself at home by seeing places and people more intimately.
Photography – or actually, rather the taking of snapshots – has become one of those practices that obviously marks a tourist. Many a person goes to a new place and just has to take pictures of just about everything, for it is all so interesting, so exciting, it just has to be captured for later.
China needs a moral core, and it needs religion to gain that, some people argue.
I am not convinced, but rather into exploring how people – be they others or us – do or do not make themselves at home, aiming to find how to really live in this world.
Religion and spirituality certainly are a part of this world, including in China. The ancestors need remembering (and goods), New Year’s Day requires a call to help from above… and in Hong Kong, there are not only temples of interest, even the curbside can see spiritual places.
As an avid explorer of chilli and cuisines, the ChiliCult-ist, I love discovering markets. (There is a whole series on that over on ChiliCult.)
This time, around Hong Kong’s North Point, I took the chance not just to document a bit of what’s on offer here (stories as that tells on the relationship of people and food, and therefore people and the places they are at home in – or not), but also to play with the peculiar photographic trick that is tilt-shift.
“How to really live in this world” is the one thing I aim to explore and explain, but the natural twin to that is a look at how we do make ourselves at home in… wherever we are.
Increasingly, that is in cities.
Parkour has been one of those practices that have re-shaped the urban space for its practitioners – or rather, the ways in which these people construct urban spaces. And it has been so nicely visual, which is how most of our spaces are structured and changed, that it has received a lot of attention.
But, there has been a much more common re-shaping practice which is not so much visual (except for the following), but rather aural: the use of iPods and similar devices.
We have, many of us, been re-structuring our city paths by taking the iPod as an “urban Sherpa” giving us accompaniment and helping us disappear into an “auditory cocoon” of our own (technological) making, as Michael Bull argued in “Sound Moves. iPod Culture and Urban Experience.”
As personal sound systems have shrunk and disappeared into smartphones, however, headphones have become bigger and therefore more noticeable. It is this dialectic of a noticeable disappearance into an other to the urban noise I decided to follow in a little photographic project… “The Silence of Sound”
Taking pictures, as ubiquitous as it has become thanks to smartphones and Instagram, is one of those nicely conflicted activities. Whipping out a phone, carrying around a camera, sets one apart from the situation at hand, marks the stranger. It’s hardly conducive to making oneself at home in the place and time.
Then again, taking the time to set up a shot means calming down, getting into the situation. Looking for interesting angles and motives can even help see the familiar in a different light.
Photography can be used to make oneself at home in a place, frame shots and look for spots, and get to see the familiar anew in the process.
Here, I took things a step further and added the dimension of time – which is not so unusual a thing, given our interest in historical photographs and illustrations – in such a way as for it to appear in the modern view…
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