Wednesday, 24 February 2010


(Boston Manor, London 2010)
Open my eyes; we are surrounded by roads, houses, shops, restaurants, theatres, hotels, museums, etc. There are strangers in these places and we have ‘public’ relations with them. Unless we are flaneurs, we have a purpose or a destination. We have a function in these spaces. The space is instrumental in directing us to fulfil the purpose – passing, spending etc . We are not considered as individual but as an object of the function such as consumers. Layout, advertisement, signs, etc enable us to give up control over ourselves for the incentives of materialism and consumption. The configuration of space and ‘public’ shape our thoughts and behaviour and we become what we shop. Our self reality is replaced by another kind of reality – illusion – created by corporations or organisations. We know how to read spatial configurations, we follow the signs, and we move ourselves towards the planned destination in perfect order. The spaces are designed for us to pass through with a purpose and there is little engagement between the place and us. There is few historical or cultural references such as monuments or artefacts. We lose our identity in the masses as anonymous in these places. Marc Auge calls these places ‘non-places’. Non-places discourage our spontaneous encounters we expected in places in old times. Multiplicity and complexity is replaced by singularity due to this functional separation. City as a bigger space is getting functional separated as well. Urban is renewed via gentrification; slum is demolished, but existing slums getting aggravated. Rich area and poor area are getting isolated after updated property development. Corporate expands and buys out more spaces then turns them into more non-places – monoculture space discouraging us from engaging with the world. There is no public or private in non-places. It is time to make non-place back to ‘place’, to diversify the singularised public, and regain the selves, private and public. We need to make meaning public and private out of the non-places. (Inspired by Jonas Brodin: Life in Fragments 2005)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


I never tried 6 X 6 medium format yet so I would like to have a go. The Mamiya C330 is so cumbersome. I loaded HP5 but couldn’t roll it forward not knowing reason why. Pity that I have to let go this chance to test this SLF 6X6.

Monday, 22 February 2010


(Shad Thames, London 2010)

I selected the suicide hotspots such as Tower Bridge, Monument, Jumeirah Knightsbridge, A1Hornsey Lance Bridge, Green Street, Queensway Tube Station and Parliament. I would like to create a context and push the public and private aspects to the most ambiguous yet convoluted extent as slides show from the beginning to the end.

I then started 1st shooting 2 weeks ago. You always find lots of problems after some trial shooting. I found the biggest problem is that there is no visual coherence. These places of course look totally different visually. I couldn’t use the same lens, same perspective, and same vantage points when shooting. There are some people in some of the shots as well since all places are in public. It is impossible to dodge all the pedestrians especially the Queensway Station as people constantly coming in and out of the station. The tourist view of Tower Bridge and Monument bothers me as well because they signifies a different feelings against the theme. I tried same format but it didn’t work well as uniformed portrait or landscape does not cover some of the sites well. I decided to re-shoot.

I got up at 6am and started from Queensway Station last Saturday. Just 20 minutes in early morning, I got some desired shots with no people fortunately! There are still parked cars on street, but there is no way to dodge it. I planned every shot to be done by landscape format. I managed to shoot some alternative views of the familiar Tower Bridge and Monument. The light was very grey last time as it was cloudy. This time it was sunny so to maintain the coherence, I can not use the shots from last time.

Friday, 19 February 2010


I have been overwhelmed by ideas so far but it is time to close my eyes and think. We spend much time in public. People see us but not see us really. They know us but don’t know us really. We understand we are not friends or families and we accept we all live in these surroundings. We don’t talk normally and we just pass by. We tend not to have special complexion, out-of-the-way costume, and most of us just want to be one of them. There are people around us in public but we feel our privacy is protected. We have the ability just to be conforming and look alike others. We tend not to show ourselves. We tend to show our real selves at home with family in intimate surroundings. Out of home, we put back our mask to full fill our public role and forget our intimate self. We play role in streets, theatre, market, restaurant, school, company, etc. If we stay at home too long, we might feel too singular, we might want to have some social public presence even just go out to see the surrounding worldliness. We can not live our lives entirely in public also; such life would be shallow. If we wonder in party too long, we might look forward to our secluded self world. However, at times we sometimes confuse ourselves by taking privacy identity to public and bringing public mask back to home. The line between private and public gets blurred. The mask sometimes can not be taken off when we are by ourselves or with our intimate families. The internet, television, products, surroundings all contribute to this and blur our public and private life further. We forget what we look like and we don’t know if our mask is our real look. We are public and private. We have many kinds of mask, each for different venue, location and surroundings decided by the infused ideology, culture conforming nature, overwhelming commercial world and our ever diminishing self. These masks sometimes can not be switched well and each mask blurs the difference of other masks and selves. We sometimes get lost in the world of masks. Our private lives are encroached by the invisible public private complications, and we do not see beyond ourselves.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Council house is built by public to house lower income civilians. Some high storied council house is considered as ugly in England but could be just one of those normal flat blocks in other countries. It looks like mass produced with no character buildings but people living there define them into each individual’s world.
Cemetery is another kind of public space. Those demised by chance slept almost shoulder by shoulder in this public area though they lived different lives previously.
Homeless people is integrated by public and private. Their privacy seems in public but each individual is so different.
I always grasped by some stillness in some big building surroundings with someone in it. Can they enjoy their privacy in such a surroundings? Can they find themselves in such public surroundings?
People get killed by accident or other reasons in streets of London. Passerby or victim related others present flowers to commemorate them. Private people disappeared this way in public and public express their feelings to these private people on the spot.
Suicide could be a private and public tragedy. A lot of people choose to end their lives in public. They might clash with their own life or society. The conflicts between public and private reached to this havoc through suicide.

(Photo Credits: 1,2,3,6 was from internet; 4 taken at Brentford in April 2009; 5 taken at Old Street in February 2010)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


(Original image courtesy:; Montage juxtaposed by me; 2010)

I like landscape, still life, etc, as it is not moving hence easy to control in front of lens and it offers a lot of space to provoke thinking. Gursky’s work inspired me so much. His objective and subjective concept plus the super visually striking approach are so amazing. I am considering doing a space theme in public/private project. Public space shapes private lives. It has complex spatial, spiritual, social, cultural dimensions. My idea is to shoot church, mosque, temple, etc to study the private/public aspect in different religious and cultural context. However, to produce a series of visually strong images to accomplish this mission should be very challenging. How to get access to the space, how to get permission to use tripod, how to get a high vantage point, how to select the ‘right’ churches/mosques/temples… At second stage, how to manipulate the external reality with my inner one. I like this idea and will consider further on this.

Monday, 8 February 2010


(Home at London Zoo; January, 2010)

I like animals generally. They have eyes, nose, ears etc just like us. Every time I see the eyes of any animal I become connected to their animal soul somehow. I especially like human alike ones such as monkeys. They are natural, primitive, and unpretentious. On the other hand, they might be considered stupid, uncivilised…

The idea is to shoot monkeys behind bars with spectators looking at them in the front ground. I would like to create a parody on the public surveillance over the private lives. I would like to express through my lens the vulnerability of the surveilled and the ferocity of the surveillers – another world of jungle.

There were no bars in London zoo unfortunately, but all glassed show rooms. I was disappointed that I couldn’t execute my original shooting plan. However, I shot two monkeys at home – actually show room with glass walls so that visitor can see everything clearly. I then began to contemplate the relationship between nature and culture. Animals’ space has been poached by human since civilisation. Some ‘lucky’ ones were taken to the new homes (like these two monkeys in their London home). Animal has no privacy but …

I still don’t have a mature idea to develop this but I found animal related subject intriguing.

Thursday, 4 February 2010


(Speaker’s Corner; January, 2010)

There is an inter-face between public and private. There are also complications of relationships between them. I would like to find them. Something could be public and at the same time private. I would like to develop an idea where public and private merge, separate, conflict and develop at the same time. Ideally to the conceptual level but not literal.

Hyde Park speakers corner on Sunday. The idea is to shoot a few speakers and listeners and get some thoughts on their interactions, when private opinions meet public. I found this idea is bit too literal, nonetheless I went for it. I shoot several groups and found this old man standing there lonely soaked in his world while no one is interested to listen to him. I don’t like the flag as it gives some specific meaning not generic. I could have exaggerated the coldness in this shot by stepping back further to create more space and dwarf the speaker’s size.

Park is somehow an inter-face where public and private merge and convolute. I could shoot the daily lives in park not limited to the speakers’ corner. I don’t know how to bring this idea to the next level. Subconsciously I don’t find it conceptual engaging. I will see.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I tried some family portraiture with Mamiya 654 for 2 rolls of Ilford (HP5 & FP4). It was so straight forward, the loading, forwarding, shooting. I enjoyed it so much even though the shots were not good as most of them ended up with family album style. One of the reasons is that I had not planned at all. You really can't expect miracle shots to happen when shooting, well, at least for me at the time being. I received the processed film today and the exposure seemed fine, though I mistaken the 400 to 100 for the first roll.