It’s not a leap to call this a strange year, and one that I’ve been largely absent from. I spent the majority of 2020 in the United States, far from my current home in Thailand, simultaneously feeling anxious about the world and rediscovering a lot of what I love in it.
It’s been hard knowing exactly what to say and post over the past few years, and so this blog has been pretty dormant. As traffic moved to other platforms, I got lazy about posting here. But I’ve always enjoyed this space, this format. I can see my images in different ways and forcing myself to write is great mental exercise. I haven’t been doing it enough and I feel worse for it, less imaginative.
So I’m trying to figure out what I want this to be again. With a smaller audience, it feels more freeing, more personal. I’m still not entirely sure what will come of things, but I’ll try to post more regularly and find some kind of voice again. Some new direction, or just a branch off the old one.
These images are taken from my journals and sketchbooks, where a lot of my photographs find second lives. I’ll talk more about those in another post, but I don’t want to make this one too long-winded or meandering. So for now.
I’ve been trying to keep a camera on me most days these days. Usually a small compact or something that fits snugly over my shoulder without adding too much weight or occupying too much thought while I’m out and about. More of a simple exercise in simply seeing the world. I’ve been trying to capture more movement, to see my surroundings more as a cinematographer might. Reading more film theory and editing concepts and trying to apply that to stills and street scenes from daily life. Studying rigid forms in an attempt to be a bit looser I guess, mostly with the belief that art is a kind of struggle in contrasts. Blah blah blah. So anyway, here are a few photographs from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong. All shot on black & white film since the break of 2017.
Never before or since my short trip to North Korea have I felt so perplexed about the realities of a country. It’s easy to know certain things: it’s a hermit nation, it’s citizens have little to no access to the outside world, it’s been run by a family of despots since the end of the Korean War, and it seemingly revels in its own bad behavior, taunting the world but stopping just short of biting the hands that feed it. But like all things worth exploring, what’s on the surface can be a very shallow reflection of the place as a whole.
During my few days in country, I met some of the nicest, most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. North Koreans, born and raised. They would talk to me about the US’s foreign policies, about Vietnam’s peculiar brand of communism, and about many other things, but they would never talk about their own country. Except to say how great their Dear & Great Leaders were, or to proclaim how they wanted for nothing in North Korea. Which, well. Obviously. It made for a perplexing read on things. Lines were blurred from the start. I would see the same people over and over again. The man in the park was also the man in the museum. That family over there was having a picnic in the woods the day before. Maybe. I think. I don’t know. In a nation where every piece of reality seems fabricated, where is the final line drawn?
So that’s what I tried to show in the photographs I took. An unreal reality. A constant fog over the eyes. Blurred edges. Shadowy figures. A constant kind of questioning. But even now, so far removed from it, I have no idea what I really saw.