A collective REPHOTO project
It's been a while since I have blogged in SNS and it's because I have been trying to push the envelope as to how I can expand my experience in SNS to a more creative direction. My experience in photographing the historic spots featured from HMS Challenger's collection has brought about a lot of realizations that I have always found to be musing about but never really pursued them.
I have always been haunted by old photographs. Old letters. Old journals. I have always been haunted by history. When I find myself in a place that has been photographed or written about I find myself wondering about what went through the person's head and what has become of them. What did they feel? What were they thinking at that moment? What kind of lives did they live? What would my life be like if I knew them? What would they be like if I knew them?
These web of interactions often make me feel overwhelmed (for lack of a better word). It creates a yearning to be intimately engaged in these interactions and experience something of great meaning. But I realized, not everybody relates to everybody in the same wavelength. Engagement does not often occur. And the "great meaningfulness" of such experience just dissipates from the moment until another flow of circumstance picks it up again and waits for another interaction to receive it.
My journey in this ship has led me to think about interactions a great deal. Not just about my country's history of which I am quite estranged from until I was made to look at it with new eyes through the SNS project. But now I am fueled to look at everything with new eyes. Like my own personal history and the history of people I work with and interact on a daily basis.
This past week, I found myself lingering in my grandaunt's journals. She kept about 6 volumes of commonplace books (a term I just learned about a few days ago) and she passed them down to me before she passed away in 2007. I was looking through them as part of my creative search to expand my experience in SNS. Trying to sift through my feelings and understand them. Reading Gary's blogs also made me look into everything a little bit more deeply. I was particularly struck by the following:
What is an artist? This chronicle of Gary's has sort of moved me to really look into what I feel about my work in this world. I'm quite the chameleon. As an HR practitioner I deal with a lot of people and a lot of behavior. As an MBA graduate, I deal with a lot of strategic planning. As a Youth Adviser, I deal with a lot counseling. As a struggling writer in the middle of all these personas, I deal with a lot of frustration especially when I am not able to practice my creativity and my craft as an integrated part of my entire life.
This isn't your customize your own Nike shoes This post made me take a second look at how I practice photography. When I was in business school for 2 years (2003-2005) I felt I was put in a military boot camp which deadened all my sense of anything I knew to be creative. I found it hard to breathe but eventually just like how you get used to "seeing in the dark", my eyes found a way to adjust. I was able to sneak in some random creative things that I included in my lifestyle as an MBA student and one of them was photography. At first I just used my camera phone to take shots of things that I labelled "those that make me breathe" or "those that make me smile" or "those I like the light falling on". I would keep on blogging about them and putting words and captions and called them "Picture Poetry". These photos were of low resolution and I'd "fix them up" through a simple photo editing tool because I had no patience for Adobe Photoshop. I suddenly learned a little bit more about photography and got myself a point and shoot. But I wasn't satisfied with not being able to manipulate the light and after much prodding, my parents finally supported me and helped me buy a dSLR for our trip to Europe in 2005. That dSLR got me to producing more Picture Poetry. I stopped because I had to start focusing on work and building my career after graduate school. And I never really got around to it much and never became quite consistent with it. But after SNS, I started to deal with the camera a little bit more like how I dealt with it after graduate school. An extra pair of eyes that make me look a little bit more closer, wider, at the things that may go unnoticed in life.
Another digital ear This post made me look at my work situation since it has stifled my creative instincts and I've been feeling really "off" because of that. But listening in to Gary's conversation made me look at work with new eyes again. As I mentioned in my commentary of Gary's post on "nike shoes" above, I've been looking at the camera as a way to expand my vision about something. As a way to expand what I see and perceive about something.
Wrapping this up, my camera has journeyed from looking at 19th century photos and recreating them in present day to taking pictures of crowded places, to taking photos of my grandaunt's old journals, to taking photos of people where I work. All of which constitute my personal history webbed into other people's histories. I hope that this journey becomes more meaningful as the days pass.
Some of my favorite photos of late.
shots of crowded faces taken from the hip
shots of my grandaunt's journals
shots of people at work
Note: What I found most liberating was taking photos of people at work. I've taken photos of old personal history artifacts before and I know the liberation I felt from them. However taking photos of people at work gave me a liberation that I never felt before. I think it was because I've been struggling to "stay afloat" in the environment and seeing the environment with new eyes made things new.