011: MID-TELEPORT

Piccadilly circus. 3.12.18

I’ve always liked that sign. 

Being a creature of habit and subtly attracted to shiny things, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I usually elect to take the (same) scenic route home on the rare days I’m in the office. Indeed, “昙花一现” or the “sudden onset of the cereus (a genus of cacti) flower” was my dad’s nickname when he worked at the university, for he also had a reliably transient relationship with going to the office.

More broadly speaking, this concept of transience seemed to have organically emerged as a theme for me. For few things are as predictably transient as a soap bubble or that of a shutter curtain, yet both of these events are steeped in obfuscation. In the former, bubble rupture is an extraordinarily violent act of nature on a nanoscale that is theoretically tangible yet experimentally slippery – in the latter, photography, a subject so famously misinterpreted by those who look and even more misunderstood by those who take. To hobble a great quote: two transient phenomena, both alike in dignity. 

Inching closer to the point of this blog post – a task which I’ve been neglecting of late due to the re-appearance of unwanted philosophical thoughts – although an oddly fitting preamble to an upcoming doctorate in philosophy. I find myself looking at my recent photographs in a manically nuanced way, leaving almost no stones unturned – then, in an act very me-like, I discard them in favour of noting just the time and the place I took those pictures. 

Take the photograph in this blog post. Surely a study in the transient capture of a mid-teleport where a man futilely attempts to de-materialise from the materialistic world? But it isn’t that, also says me. It is the unconscious amalgamation of a few styles of modern street photography which is paraded around Instagram in an unhealthy, social media manner and I, the picture-taker, is caught mid-act in the teleporting exercise where I tried to travel to a more original place – but ultimately foiled and attracted by the dark side that is the commercial ad. A transient victory. 

In short, there is a tension (or we bubbleologists say, the surface tension) on the interface between two media – in this case, me the picture-taker and the subject in said picture, and whichever you choose would inevitably affect your interpretation of the frame. This tension, like its fluidic cousin the surface tension, is both spatially and temporally-dependent, i.e. the viewer would feel one or the other interpretation would dominate the other if looking at the photograph in a different place/device or time. For me, this is one important reason to like a picture – that it allows for a tension to develop between the different strands of philosophical narratives.

However, also possessing the subtleties of a wreaking ball, a majority part of me like it because it is a fu***u* slam dunk of a picture of my favourite ad in my favourite place taken on my favourite camera. And that is also ok :)

Until the next time! 

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010: Bubble Trouble

4 years ago, I started my PhD work on bubbles. 3 papers, 1  video and hundreds of hours of experimenting in the kitchen later, I have decided to put together a photobook of 25 awesome bubble images from my project. Befitting a labour of love, “Bubble Trouble” is printed in a hardback format with shiny paper (20cm x 26cm, 28 pages) and currently occupies a prestigious corner of my desk with bb8.

Book preview: Bubble Trouble (Web version)

You can order it on Blurb.com but for a limited time I have some copies for a few pounds cheaper.

5/9 update: I have sold out my first print run of these so if you would like a physical copy, it is £28 + postage* and I’ll put your name down for the second run. I can be reached on my Flickr or Instagram or email or here.

*If you’re in London, there is an extra option of me personally delivering it to you to a zone 1 London tube station of your choice free of charge.

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009: Notting Hill Carnival (2018)

After the Pride parade a couple of weeks ago, the Notting Hill carnival is another colourful march to happen in London. Looking for compositions in the massive crowd isn’t always easy and you’d end up with some tourist shots, but I did enjoy the process of making the shots manually, however tricky it was for moving targets. Having said that, there is definitely a special kind of joy when you do get a hit  😄

14,851 below is my favourite of the day.

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A bonus shot :)

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Alone, the Surrealist wanders in the streets without destination but with a pre-determind alertness for the unexpected detail that will release a marvellous and irrestible reality just below the banal surface of ordinary experience.” – Peter Galassi

Surrealism’s great gift to sensibility was to make melancholy cheerful.” – Susan Sontag

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A few recent surreal-realist Kodachromes from a few melancholy wanderings.

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007: Pride London 2018

 

One more year one more Pride. This year’s took place in an uncharacteristically hot July in the backdrop of the football “coming home”, or so I gather from my friends…

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T H R E E . L I O N S ?

There is a joke about a pride of lions somewhere… 

Photographyically speaking, it was an event of the colours that assault the senses (and lenses); taste the rainbow they say, which in my case must’ve been the moment when a bubble literally popped in my face.. A spectacular metaphor for a subject which I’m uniquely overqualified for. (More on that in my upcoming PhD thesis on bubbles which I’m in the finishing stages of writing.)

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À . C I R C U S

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W H A T . F O O T B A L L ?

The clash with the world cup this year was an interesting one. You’d think pride and football aren’t natural venn diagram intersections, but I’m pleasantly surprised at the positive feverish. Quite refreshing.

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This year I took only a 50mm prime with me and nothing else. A continuation of my 50mm adventures documented on my Flickr under #TheGreat50mmProject. This was interesting to say the least.. I mean, you try manually focus a drag queen mid-spin to Lady Gaga – I almost feel like I’m dancing by proxy.. But, despite my masochistically photographic ways, I had more fun than I expected in framing the shots with more care than last year’s “auto-shoot-it-all-mode”. The end result was that I had a dozen of keepers with a total of about 150 shots. (As a reference, my friend who was shooting film shot 7 rolls.) Not too bad for a days work.

Until next time…

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Some out-takes: 

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005: May day

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S T E R E O | Pelham st., LDN

Pelham street is quite close to where I work (South Kensington) and so after pub on Friday, I took a walk to Sloan square and  shot a few frames. Having quite liked the “Post no bills” sign in New York, I was drawn to this one. A few of the other shots from this sign with a single person looked a bit lonely even though the minimalist in me was quite content, so I ended up merging 2 consecutive frames in this version 2. Interesting how the interpretation now changes in my head, whereas a solitary figure is certainly more abstract, version 2 is trying to visualise a post-pint double vision in a dystopian world of plan B’s… (or not :)

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D A Y . I N . T H E . L I F E #13916| China town, San Francisco

Interestingly, this bright and neutral Californian colour scheme does not translate well to gritty London.. at all. It seems that grittiness does not like to be poked with overtly colourful cheer, similar to real life I suppose.

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P I N O C C H I O | Charing X, LDN

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bonus snaps

004: Retro Futurism

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This week brought about a curious lens that I’ve been searching for the best part of a year. The (1956) Leitz Summaron 2.8cm f5.6 screw mount lens – a tiny lens (150g) with a demonstably large character. A recent remake of this classic in M-mount can be bought brand new at an eye-watering price and so it was a moment of pure joy when I happen to stumble upon the original version this week, second hand and in pristine condition.

What a lens! 

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T H E . O R I G I N A L . S U M M A R O N

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L I F E ‘ S . A . B L I Z Z A R D | One New Change, London

 

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B I O S P H E R E | One New Change, London

 

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S T O R Y . S O . F A R | Tate Modern, London

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D A Y . I N . T H E . L I F E  #181 | Barbican, London

To be continued…

002: 海纳百川

This set of 3 monochroms showcases some of my uncle’s recent calligraphic work.

The first phrase from the initial picture is the proverb “海纳百川”, which literally means “water containing hundred lakes” and literarily describes something of epic proportions. More subtly, it is used to describe the personality of a great person, as the trait of being able to see other points of view is the sign of a leader – a democratic leader in times of war was particularly honoured.

The phrase itself came from “三國时代” – the period of the three kingdoms (220–280 AD) and the late Eastern Han dynasty (c. 184–220 AD).  Below is its first recorded appearance, in an account by the 晋 Jin dynasty historian 袁宏 (yúan hóng, 328-376) written in memory of the famous warriors and generals of the 三國 period:

出处:晋·袁宏《三国名臣序赞》:“形器不存,方寸海纳。李周翰注:“方寸之心,如海之纳百川也,言其包含广也。”

translation: Origin: Jin · yúan hóng notes in 《Three Kingdom notable general review》:  A microscopic nature undisturbed by material, can rival even the most gargantuan of worlds. Addendum by 李周翰: for an inch of intent is like a sea containing hundred lakes, a saying of grandeur.

Like many old Chinese proverbs, it aims to condense a parable into 4 characters. Reading beneath the line, this particular one is saying that should an intent or idea be natural, however small it may be, has the capacity to explain or contain nature itself.

In some ways, this sentiment is also perfectly captured by the idea in set theory that there exists a one-to-one map between an infinite set A and the set A × A (A multiplied with itself). So does infinity equal infinity squared? I shall leave that as an exercise :)

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