Tuesday, 29 March 2011


by Rinko Kawauchi

I am always intrigued by the relationship between text and image. In retrospect, I remember Bill Owen’s Surbabia, Duane Michals’s some work, Alex Soth’s little photo book, looking for the loneliest man. (Just to name a few, as there are just so many artists good at juxtapositions of image and text.) They have such a key part in the photography in these works. If they had not used the texts for the images, the impact would not have been as strong. They have a narrative, expressive, and revelation feel to me.

There are quite a few visual diary, or some personal story telling photographic project. They are similar to what I am doing now. Byron Wolfe, Jari Silomaki, Dinu Li, Renko Kawauchi, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Elinor Carucci, Lina El Yafi, Nan Golden…and there are so many more and similar to what I am doing. You come with some idea, 99% of chance is that there has been already this kind of works after you do some research. Nevertheless, there will be some difference, at the end of the day, it is my personal story I am doing.

Photography is a lonely process. When I am in, I just want to shut myself from everything and immerse myself with my ideas, engagement and references, and write my reflections or doing some shots to develop more.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


I had another colour printing session. The purpose is to print all chosen images so that I could juxtapose everything in front of me for further edit. I finally pin down the right colour balance after previous two sessions of ‘messing-around’. Colour dark room No.1, cyan 0, magenta 55 and yellow 55 is the right combination for Kodak Ekta 100 shot in grey weather morning time. F16 and 12.5 second give perfect exposure for most of the shot. However there are a few shots difficult to expose right. I played around different combinations and made a note for the last formal printing later. At least I printed everything out, though there are still lot of work to fine tune to get the best result. The two rolls of films, one shot by Hassalbladt was not successful maybe due to my handheld at 1/60 and wide aperture; the other one by Bronica SQA was quite good, as I used tripod and shutter release, though slower speed at 1/15 and f5.6 instead of 2.8. Printing is essential as it is easier to pin point the quality of the shooting while looking at film using magnifying glass has limitations. I also printed my 5 X 4 films. It was fantastic to see the rich detail on the print. If situation allows, I would prefer large format. It is so different. One good image is better than 1 billion mediocre images.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


My first subscribed newspaper arrived today. I started to browse and look for ‘proper’ text idea to go with my images.

Originally I planned to random pick:

'Most Arab banks edged hesitantly upwards on Sunday, after Hosni Mubarak resigned as president of Egypt'.

If I look for a news account deliberately, I found it will be tricky. If I choose one:

‘Outlook for jobs to worsen – employment is predicated to fall over the next few months.’

It is very interesting, as it distorted the neutral image perception. However, I need to consider what signifier I would like to create out of the combination of text and image.

My purpose for this project is to depict the multi layers of life, surroundings, media and world. To use fixed composition and similar images, I could create the world from a detached point of view. Using text, I would like to strengthen this perception and at the same time signifies multiple layers of culture, world fair, media, etc. Therefore, I think probably dramatic news account goes with my intention of the project. I think a detail and time specific incident texts will have better power than generic non-specific non-timed news text.

So, I hand picked for today’s text presumably:

'After hundreds of bloodshed, Egypt’s new military leadership took firmer control of the country yesterday.'

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


I would like to shoot a train station and railway at 8am every morning for 30 days. Same location, identical composition. Thousands of people commute using train, hundreds of trains run through, it is where private meets public. probably the first physical interface in a day when one gets out of the home to go to work.

Now there are two options. One is to shoot to get the right exposure using light metre. The other one is to shoot using a fixed shutter speed and fixed aperture. The purpose for the latter is to enhance the moment, the same amount of time but with different image brightness indicating that every day is bit different.

I would like to subscribe Financial Times for 30 days during the shooting and use some wording as the text for each image to be made. The same composition image with different news story line will interact with each other to depict the complex relationship of nature, machine, society, media, world affair, individual etc. I always think the normal mundane, down-to-earth, static or slow paced life has an interesting complex relationship with the fast paced and dramatic media, business and news world.

Then to create the static view of the image would make the same shutter speed approach invalid, as I would like to or will probably come up with minute changes on each image. Therefore I decide to use the first method – 8am, fixed frame, perfect exposure.

There are two options of the text. One is to get the headline on the first page. Second is to randomly choose a news from the whole paper. Third is to choose a news myself to manipulate the overall feel of the text and image. I think I just need to do all of these three to check and compare then decide.

The working title I will be using would be ‘We live in financial times.’

At the same time, I will be working on my personal intimate ‘Goodbye Yesterday’ series.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Random news match

I subscribe a newspaper for 30 days. Everyday, I take a picture as my visual diary for the period.

1. I random choose a news account from a newspaper and use the title line as the text of the photo.

2. I choose the first page headline as the text to the photo.

The idea is to juxtapose my life and media news to combine the self with the external world to study the complex relationship between the external realities and me.

My private life

I take one picture a day. The picture I take is something I am touched, I visualise, or simply I see. I then put my thoughts or explanation as text to the image. I continue this creation for 30 days.

News – image creation

I subscribe a newspaper for 30 days. Everyday, I choose a news account from the newspaper.

1. Random choose

2. Headline in the first page

3. I choose subjectively

Then I take one image corresponding to the news every day for 30 days.

Headlines – morning

Find one place to take a shot fixed time fixed frame for 30 days, using the newspaper headlines as text corresponding to each image.

Friday, 18 March 2011


We had a session of discussing ideas with everyone. Discussion is a process where idea develops when people ask questions and I think and when others, especially Eileen and Ulrike, give input references.

I found the interplay between text and image can sometimes create very interesting relationships, feels, and meanings. While the image is a snap shot, or not necessarily a snapshot, of one fragment moment of my visual life, the text is the key. The text could be what I feel, what I experience, what the situation is, something what I am interested in the news, or something I just randomly chosen from the newspaper. Even if the text is from what I random choose from the news, even if it does not go with the image, it still reflects a complex relationship between the world and me. Life, at the end of the day, sometimes does not make sense, anyway. Regardless of me, the world moves on and does not halt to a stop. Regardless what happened anywhere, life moves on. “Goodbye Yesterday” will be title of the project. It will be an elegy of my yesterday on the backdrop of the world.

There will be a few scenarios with the combination of text and image.

Idealised Scenario Matrix
















Am I after some very intimate personal visual diary style, or some conceptual and special works, or some really detached style statement? I would like to make a combination of everything, as just like the weather, changes every day, my life and mood change everyday. The above four options could be results of different days. However, I worry about the coherence.

Regarding the text, I think I could create some moody atmosphere in some works, and come up with some cinematic story telling narrative, or some social and cultural comment.

I decide to start the project hopefully next week, and then discipline myself for at least 30 days to see how it goes. If successful, I just chose 5 to 9 pieces out of this 30 days trial result.

I would like to plan the shooting and at the same time to do some visual research as there seems many personal visual diary style projects already elsewhere.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


The Day of One Hundred Dead, June 8 

(Detail, Unique c-type 76.2x600cm)

by Broomberg & Chanarin

His talk has so many interesting points. There is always something refreshing in their (together with Oliver Chanarin) practices and projects. Their works have strong and complex social, economic, political context and for every projects, they had done so much research work. It is not only the images but also, more importantly the story, the edit, and the text that create strong meaning and personal point of views. He gave a lot of leads for me to engage further, such as military & game, camera & machine gun, entertainment & war, analytic & enjoying… His conceptual approach questions the current situation that media represent the world and we have less and less resistance. He gave several examples to advice not to respond to image – pay more attention to context. Yes, how could one image represent everything? I need to see more, the situation when the photographer took the shot, his contact sheets, the background situation of the incident. It was a mind blowing talk!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


I like the dead silence with literally no people or transportation on street on Sunday mornings. There is a cool lonely feel and I found this amazing. It is difficult to engage with a busy street scene but with this ghostly absence of people I engage with the street more. I took out a Sinar large format to do a test shoot. Surprisingly, it is very straight forward setting up the lens, bellow, tri-pod, though bit heavy. After light metre test, I set up the aperture, speed, close the lens, cock the shutter, done! The whole process is slow and I tried best to make sure of the focus and composition. It was different experience to see the subjects upside down on the back glass. I was so excited that I forgot to check the perspective and focus plane, though it should be ok as it is a straightforward landscape. The second one is not this lucky. I forgot to close the lens and one sheet film was wasted…Anyway, it is better to do things step by step, to make the most out of every shot. The film used is Fujicolor Pro 160.

Thursday, 3 March 2011


from The Accidental Theorist

by Edgar Martin

I like Edgar Martin’s photography, as there is a familiar but unexplainable strangeness in it. He gave us a talk today. There are many interesting points and philosophical thoughts in his talk. He mentioned his interest in theatre. The world is like theatres with reality get fictionalised first then mediated as a reality to viewer especially when one observes the things. He also used Heisenberg uncertainty principle as a tool or analogy to explain the reality changes when we gaze on things. I have the same experience when I gaze quietly and become able to feel the thing-ness in the things, I sometimes feel space could change and be distorted in reality and especially in representational medium, a Chinese character does not look like the Chinese character if I look at it for a certain time. I like his rendition of fragmentary reality and his highly metaphorical representations of reality. He also has a highly successful career with a lot of commissions, awards, and publications. He also gave some interesting information how to get book published.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I started shooting using the Hasselbladt. First the handheld viewfinder makes composition and focus very difficult. Without tripod I worry the shaking of hands but with tripod it is not easy to make the composition manoeuvring as free as possible. I did three shots today. I forgot to draw my composition of the train station shot today, as I will have to shoot 30 images for 30 days from the same location, I want the composition to be identical. I gotta record the composition tomorrow morning.

At the same time, I started to use my F1.2 50mm manual lens on my D300. The bokeh is just fabulous but the focus is difficult. It has to be extremely accurate. My eye sight does not help it at all.

I hope I do not run out of ideas.

Sometimes, I could come out with texts corresponding to the images shot. However, I do not like them to be just literal. I am seeking some metaphorical and ambiguous thoughts, which could split an abyss space for viewer to engage together with my image. However, they should be honestly from myself – my thoughts, my story and my experience. Otherwise, it just lost the purpose of the project - it is MY diary.

Some of the images are not pretty. I like formally pretty images that could grasp the visual attention, but the key is that there has to be enough signifiers in the image. I am not quite sure how my shooting goes. I have to let them lay a couple of days before looking them again.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


I have never been such a show – Hilary Lloyd at Raven Row. There are so much empty spaces. I walk around the gallery ‘void’ space and let myself immersed into her multi channel video work. The space, projector, DVD player all integrated into the artwork presentation. There should be much tautology and ontology concept in her work but I did not react well, though I found the works are intriguing to me.

I was stunned by Floris Neusüss’s female body theme images at V&A’s Shadow Cathers – Cameraless Photography exhibition. The cameraless approach itself is very conceptual. It is to get the physical contact with the subject, scrapping the technology mediation – the camera. I found this approach fascinating and aspire to do something my own. The show space is well designed into several rooms where each artist occupy one room. The ambience is low key with dark tone wall colour. Together with the high ceiling, I felt I stepped into my own dark room getting contact with all those wonderful abstract or figurative ‘things’. The presentation form goes well with the theme of the exhibition. I like it very much.