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Spare Time 

2022

 

The Extended Moment

 

Back during the first decade of this century, when I was working on my projects: What We Don't See, Ineffable Light, 360° and Almost, I had also discussed issues related to the limits of photographic representation. I was intrigued by how a purely visual medium such as photography, which claims to have an impassive eye that misses nothing, in fact could miss so much. In my first series - What We Don't See -  done in 2006, I photographed the places blind people inhabited and thus making a comment on the limits of photography’s ability to communicate visually. In 360° and Ineffable Light and Almost I was dealing with issues related to photography and surface, commenting on the inability photography has to metaphorically penetrate and reach any deeper than on the surfaces of the things. This fascination with the limits of photography was born out of reflecting on my own works failures as well as my frustrations when looking at the work of other photographers too. The fact is photographs alone mostly failed  to communicate concepts and ideas well and consistently.

 

However it is precisely these incomplete means of communication which photography possesses that I also believe is photography’s greatest asset. These partial vestiges of the real that photography manages to record, ambiguously and  imperfectly, become, in fact, the most beautiful and poetic qualities that the images possess after all. Images that might not explain the world fully - far from it - leaving the rest to the viewers to interpret or.... not. 

 

In 2007 I produced 360°, a set of 7 images made in Berlin, Germany. This is part of the text I wrote to accompany that series: 

“The aim was to question what we can see in a place that we have only experienced photographically. By photographing a building from different angles and composing a multi-layered image of these different photographs I was trying to create something new that is not fully photographic. It could be argued we can get to know a place better by looking at it from all angles (north, south, east and west) but the multi-layer effect creates a new unex­pected image that perhaps further confuses the visual experience. The space becomes more psychical and less physical - a place in our minds.”

 

 

In 360°, I was trying to understand a place by photographing it from 4 different angles and then combining them into single photograph and in doing so, confusing the visual experience by making a place that was distancing itself even more from the real and thus becoming more of an abstraction. What I then called “a place in our minds” Now in 2022, 15 years later I decided to continue by revisiting this same paradigm. 

Spare time is a collection of daytime long-exposed images depicting people in a variety of cultural leisure activities around Singapore. From tourism to weekend activities, shopping and outdoor sports. They show people for an extended period experiencing activities during their personal time off.The exposure lengths ranges from 5 seconds to several minutes and the end results often show a trail of movement throughout the frame. These extended moments are a response and a challenge to the importance placed in time when producing photographic images that are meant to catch the right moment. Rather that catching the right moment I catch the trail of moments indiscriminately left by the flow of people that come in and out of the frame. We could say that there is a succession of multiple decisive moments in each of these photographs that were never stopped, never clearly caught, one rolling into the next, all mixed and forever lost. The all so important photographic decisiveness thus is rendered invisible to those looking for it in these long-exposed ghostly photographs. 

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