Spare Time 2022 -
The extended moment, captured and missed
In the early 2000s, when I was working on my projects, I 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, can miss so much. In my first series - What We Don't See - done in 2006, I photographed the places blind people inhabited, making a comment thus on the limits of photography's ability to communicate visually. In 360°, 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 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. 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 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.
Spare Time is a collection of long-exposure daytime images depicting people in a variety of cultural leisure activities around Singapore, from tourism to weekend activities, shopping, and outdoor sports. They show people experiencing activities during their personal time off for an extended period. The exposure lengths range 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 on time when producing photographic images that are meant to catch the right moment. Rather than 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 is thus rendered invisible to those looking for it in these long-exposure ghostly photographs. The work privileges the flow of time over the fixity of a singular momentary event, using the limits of photography to reframe how its relationship to time can be explored.