Tag Archives: photography

An Arm and a Leg

prosthetics

I visited an area of town where they sell prosthetic limbs. Store after store of prosthetic arms and legs.  It’s fascinating, depressing, then fascinating all over again. It’s easy to imagine people who lost limbs and how sad it must be to come to such a place, but it’s also amazing that such people could also regain some of their freedom due to the amazing technology we have these days. We live in amazing times. We have prosthetic arms and legs on window displays!

It also got me wondering at how people get into the prosthetic manufacturing business. Whatever choices in life could’ve led people to devoting their skills and talents to making arms and limbs. And how did it all begin? How do people go up and just decide, “you know what, there’s a lot of money to be made here. Let’s start a prosthetic limbs store!” In any case, however they got there, I’m jealous at what they do. At least they wake up in the morning knowing they’re making someone’s life be better. They’re helping people walk or regain the use of their arms again. Not many people can claim to change lives on a regular basis as much as these people.

Unfortunately, to get there, I had to pass by a little hidden red light district. Afterwards, I had to go through an area frequented by homeless people. Under the certain conditions, my little stroll yesterday could’ve driven me to depression.

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Dead Strangers

motivated

I was reading a great obituary over the weekend. It was tragic, but inspiring. It was of this young lady who devoted so much of her life to charity, so much of her life to helping others. It’s really sad, but she was one of those people whose life Lao Tzu was referring to when he talks about flames that burn bright but burn half as long. (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/jennifer-joy-logan-1982-2015/) Though younger than me, she probably helped more people in her short life than I ever did… than I ever will. I was and am not as generous as she was. And for that I do feel a tremendous amount of shame and regret.

The beauty of such obituaries (and no, I don’t often read strangers’ obituaries) is that not only do they celebrate a person’s life, but they also inspire others. Perhaps they push others to be more grateful for what they have, enjoy the moment more, or in this particular young lady’s case, be kinder to others. It is like the one last good the departed could do, to inspire and teach.

Speaking of death and remembrances, I watched the documentary about Vivian Maier over the weekend.  (http://www.vivianmaier.com/) What a fascinating life! Her works are amazing. It’s such a shame that she didn’t push harder for them to be shown while she was still alive. Of course, the woman was suffering from some mental illness, the film made sure to explore that aspect of her life, but it doesn’t remove the fact that she was an utter genius who had an eye, not just for light and composition, but for human drama.

Again, the documentary, even the current interest in her life and work, serve as form of obituary, a tribute to an artist that was almost forgotten. And while the first obituary I was talking about was about a life of charity and giving, Vivian’s was a life that appears she never wanted to be shared.  She was never particularly kind. In fact, some of the children she cared for described her to be cruel. But she was relentless in her art, and in it, her humanity blossomed. It’s as if what she lacked as a participant, she made up for as keen observer. And what she saw was beautiful.

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Another Year

Bulls

Celebrated my birthday over the weekend. I use the word “celebrate” loosely since I don’t really like making a big fuss of my birthday. Who the heck am I? And what really did I accomplish in the past year? Seems rather indulgent. I just went out and had Russian food with my wife, which is a treat in my book. Later, I ended up having our drinks paid for by some famous Korean fashion photographer. It sounds pretty random, but sometimes random stuff happens to me, which is another treat in my book.

I actually can only recall having only one birthday party as a child. Now, I don’t mind. I really don’t like having all of that attention on me. But I guess ever since I was young, I was never fond of birthdays.

 

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This Photograph Is My Proof.

Photograph_Is_My_Proof1

Probably the work I most admired back in art school was “This photograph is my proof.” It’s about someone showing evidence that there was a moment that existed. And despite that moment being gone and things being different, for a moment in time, a woman did care for the subject.

Or at least that’s what the subject wants us to think. Because the evidence could be misleading, and perhaps that moment was misrepresented. Saying that, “This photograph is my proof… she did love me,” is just that: him saying that some girl loved him. That’s his interpretation, not hers, and perhaps not the viewers’. It talks about how photographs and their interpreters could very well lie. At least that’s the message I get under themes of longing, mourning, and insecurity.

Photograph_Is_My_Proof2

This is not the first time I’ve written about “This photograph is my proof.” I think its message is easy to grasp because it’s quite universal. We’ve all held on to that one photo of proof of something that is no longer there. Heck, it’s the reason why Facebook is so popular. Half of their traffic is probably due to people pining over their exes.

Unfortunately, the more I think about it, a man holding and cherishing a photo as proof of love lost is probably something that doesn’t happen too often these days. Sure, images are now digitized and no one carries photos around aside from the ones stored in phones or accessible online. But because photos are non-physical, there is not much cherishing them. We can always view, download, delete, store, edit, and share pictures of our exes. The pictures we have hidden in a deep folder somewhere in our C drives are currently outdated by the ones they post online. And even if you cherish the old ones, have you seen what they have been up to lately on their timeline?!

If anything, the modern equivalent of “This photograph is my proof” is far more intimate, especially with the ease of taking photos these days. And if anything, these “proofs” are often used for more nefarious purposes. Nude photos of exes are the proof that things were good once.

You were happy. It did happen and she did love you. Look and see for yourselves, everyone.

 

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Quick, name an artist!

Gustav_Klimt

Gustav Klimt, one of the artists that all Koreans know, along with Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, and Haring. There’s like a Picasso or Warhol show here in South Korea every year. And Van Gogh, Klimt, and Haring’s images have been incorporated into so many products that it’s impossible not to know them.

Ask a Korean who their favorite visual artist is, it’s almost certain to be one of those five.

Of course, I’m sure this is not a strictly a Korean phenomenon. You’ll probably get similar answers in the west with Banksy added.

As for me, my favorite artists are Calder and Duane Michals. It’s funny because I’m not really that heavy into sculpture or photography. I’ve always admired Michals’ look into human insecurities and I remember taking a couple of photography courses back in university just to try to emulate his style. This was before digital photo manipulation just made it too easy. As for Calder, his sense of playfulness is hypnotic. Forget texting or reading a book while waiting at a museum lobby. Just stare at a Calder piece. The minutes will just zoom past you.

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