Tuesday, 6 December 2016

,

Still Growing

  

I had a conversation the other day, about how I don't feel like an adult yet, and that I don't think I'll feel like an adult for a very long time. Or until I get a full time job, and live in my own place where I pay my own rent, and start having a lot more abstractions to worry about on a daily basis. I think I've also come to romanticise this state of independence, where you get to choose your own IKEA furniture and plant basil on your windowsill, which is actually more like constant a obsession with fuel prices and watching for your almond milk and chicken to go on sale, and some amateurish balancing of your monthly income. So really, there is no rush to get to this 'adult' stage - it is arbitrary, and not as fun as I imagine it to be. While I want the qualities of emotional maturity, of having my shit together, of being financially stable - I also do want to be growing. Growing implies incompleteness - of not being good enough yet - which seems to go against this whole concept of 'I know what I am doing, look at my minimalist apartment', but I want to be aware of my inadequacies and be patching them up and making ground where I am lacking. And this goes arm in arm with the whole financial security and building a fulfilling career thing - because I can't be satisfied in my day job if my skills don't enable me to work in a good one.

I think lately, I've become aware of how I have stagnated, or neglected the creative side of me. I've been dipping my toe into Adobe Illustrator over the past year, but event photography is the same generally, and during the semester, it's been really difficult to get outdoors and organise some friends and just take pictures I wouldn't normally take. I'm also aware of how lucky I really am to have these friends who are so willing to be photographed. We have a really great symbiotic situation going on, where I help them liven up their Instagram feeds, and they help me grow bit by bit, and make sure I don't spiral into an existential crisis where I've lost meaning and inspiration in my life.

  

So recently, before I flew out of Sydney into Queenstown (I may write about this later), I shot Tara and Alice a couple of times, and looking at these images, I realise now that I am still growing, and I am so relieved to feel that. The same me from last year couldn't have taken these photos - partly because me last year didn't even know Tara, and me last year had never come to these places before - but also because me last year probably didn't see things the same way as me now. I am particularly proud of the image on the top right starring Tara because past me backlit everything all the time, and probably would've written this shot off as not possible, or probably not good. So I am proud of myself for this little thing.

On top of this, I feel like I am on my way to better things in my life. For the first time, I can confidently say that I am employed, and I am earning a consistent and good stream of income. I can actually save and plan for holidays. Unfortunately, I am still a long way off from earning enough to allow me to move out of home, which I will deal with, because real estate is impossible right now. My last semester was by far my best academically in these past couple of years of university - my mum was very proud of me. But it is also true that I could be writing more - I'm not, and there isn't really anything I can say to back myself up. I'm not reading enough either, and my copy of 'Tender is the Night' eyes me disappointedly from a metre away. I am exactly 38 pages in, but Pokemon Sun is much more alluring and I have nothing to say for myself in defence.


But that's what new years are for. I'm going to do things like eat better (specifically - binge less), and buy less clothes (because I don't actually need a lot more). I'm going to tend to the small things, like getting last year's pants I bought on Boxing Day hemmed, and buying new nail clippers. I might become more diligent about my skincare, and I will focus more on learning new skills, like Adobe Illustrator and Premiere. I want to volunteer more (my applications are still being rejected), and do more things that scare me.

Less than a month to go - keep me accountable, friends.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

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Social

I've struggled with meeting new people and making new friends for a long time. For the majority of my life, I was scared to introduce myself, and I didn't know what to say about myself. I wondered how people saw me - and if they saw what I saw in the mirror (I didn't like what I saw).

How quickly things change.

Now I'm here, making fun of my co-workers (10 years my senior), laptop running out of space because of all the RAW images I'm hoarding (most of which I still haven't edited), and a social calendar I wouldn't have dreamed of two years ago. Two years ago, I was sitting on my panda-print bedsheets, saying out loud that "In uni ... I'm going to be a homebody. I'm not going to go out, and my friends are going to be few but close." It turns out now, that I only got part of that prediction right, if any at all.

Everyone does friendships differently. I have friendships that take place in classrooms and lecture theatres, where we give sneaky side-eyes, and whisper a joke, and share a late night lecture snack. I also have friendships from way back when, which are less regular, but are next-level special. I have friendships where we talk about how was your day, and how shit is this, how funny is this meme, how amazing is this song, and how great are these shoes.

The other day, I went out with Alice, Elle and Tara, and we covered everything from your highlighter is so lit, to the right to have an opinion in democracy, and where the fuck is the Jigglypuff.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Lit Fam


I'm going to be completely honest and say that I am really proud of this post title, and I've been saving it for a while. I know, I should be ashamed. But hey, it's appropriate. It's not often that we have anything to say about literal lights. It happens once a year, and people get an excuse to stay out in the city late in the winter. I haven't been to many Vivid Sydney's. It's only been a few years since my parents started being okay with me heading out into the world without their supervision.

To be honest, I wasn't that impressed by this year's exhibition. There were certain installations that were interesting, but others just didn't leave much of an impression. I guess that's the risk that these public art installations/exhibitions run. Artists have to take in a number of factors, including how their artworks are going to hold up in the weather, and especially if people - of all ages - would be interested. I think it's both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it seems to be a shame that artists might need to downscale or simplify their ideas to make them public-friendly. On the other hand, I'm all for making art more accessible. I do agree that living in a digital age definitely enables some forms of art, or some mediums of sharing art, but it might also cut people off from other forms. Sculptures (technically what all these Vivid installations are) can't be fully experienced online, through images or video. Sometimes you have to physically place yourself in front of something to appreciate it. I'm glad Vivid encourages that. Even if Instagram-bait installations are going to be part of the package.


To be honest, I am a bit disappointed that I didn't have a tripod (I still don't have a tripod), so I couldn't try my hand at any more long exposures. It is something I should practice more, even if it doesn't give me the most thrill in the world. I made do with what I had though, and I am grateful for the flexibility of a 24-70mm. On a photography level - I'm honestly itching to do something new. Or even just the old - to shoot some portraits, but maybe something different. I just need to be doing something creative again.

Funny how all this creative urge comes at a time where I have more deadlines than ever.
See you after exams! M x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

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Easter Melbourne (2/2)

I've really messed up this time - I just seemed to never find the time to finish up the second part of rounding up Melbourne. It's so strange to think that I went from a state of great contentment and relaxation to my current state of muscle pain, period pain, and never-ending stress is pretty surreal - all in the space of a few months. So now that I'm home, on a Wednesday, catching up on my Torts notes on pure economic loss, I figured now is as good a time as ever to catch up and get this content out. If only just as a record that I was there, and I felt things, and I have these good memories that are worth reliving.

Leo and I went to the Ai Wei Wei x Andy Warhol exhibition at the NGV. Personally, I think Melbourne has more delightful art offerings - not that Sydney doesn't - but in the couple of times we've been down there, they've really blown us out of the water. With that said, I haven't had a chance of check out the Biennale - maybe I will, seeing that it's there for a while - but maybe not. Life gets in the way. I also know that that really isn't a good excuse. I know better. I'll plan it into my already-packed life, just you watch.

With that said, the Ai Wei Wei exhibition was delightful. Personally, I felt a lot more connected with Ai Wei Wei's work - if only because there was this strong cultural and historical dimension to his work. Admittedly, I don't know everything - not even close to anything - about Chinese politics and history. I know as much as the next child of a first generation immigrant. Snippets of injustices, the occasional corruption story, the sweeping condemnation of the cultural revolution & the communist government, and a curious comment on Taiwan.


What I do know for sure though, is that China is as complicated - if not more complicated - than every other nation on earth. And this means that there are so many social injustices that have happened and continue to happen. Certain exhibitions left a lasting impression on me - Ai Wei Wei's efforts to name the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake in particular was moving. It's easy to lose a connection with the sufferings of others. We hear about disasters too much, and I, like many, have grown desensitised. But to see him document the names of those who died brings it closer to home. People cannot be characterised and valued in terms of numbers. It is all well and good to count the dead, but to know the names of the dead is entirely different, and wholly more important.

I think on some level, this is why we need artists. Sometimes, you need a different kind of medium or method in order to communicate. Sometimes, traditional news media isn't going to cut it. We live in a world today where our attention is constantly divided and demanded, and it's so easy for entertaining, light-hearted things - senseless things, to win. Internet memes and OOTDS. To go to an art exhibition and to become informed of a grave injustice and so much loss is something we need. It's something I needed. I have never met any of these people - so many children - who passed away in Sichuan. But Ai Wei Wei's work has brought me closer to them than any news report or number could possibly have.

With Flowers was also a remarkable body of work. To walk into a room in the exhibition and be confronted with so many flowers was on one level - delightful. Flowers are a powerful signifier in our culture. We give flowers as gifts, to celebrate almost everything - birthdays, mothers, weddings, babies, even to mourn deaths. And here, Ai Wei Wei placed a bouquet of fresh flowers in a bicycle outside his studio until he gained the right to travel freely. Flowers for freedom. I had never encountered something so poetic, powerful, and simultaneously beautiful.


Seeing the progression of Andy Warhol's work was also incredible. We tend to only notice artists' most acclaimed work. Like Andy Warhol's Campbell Soups. But I found his sketches of people - distorted, exaggerated - and flowers in bold colours and lines - equally delightful. Great artists develop their work and ideas just like the rest of us - taking the time to try things out, to sketch, until something is more fully formed and ready. The same goes for Ai Wei Wei's early work. He did some absolutely incredible ink landscape sketches.

I think in the process of immersing myself into photography, I had gotten lost - I had started to dismiss landscape. I didn't understand it. I guess this is partially because photographs depict reality very truthfully, in their raw form. Photography is limited in that sense. What is in front of the lens is what you get behind the lens. It's only after you go into the darkroom, or into photoshop, that things start to change. And for a while now, landscape photography has been what you see, in a picture. I wasn't drawn to it, because you couldn't make a view of a mountains, or a sunset, or architecture look dramatically different from the reality. These things are beautiful, but I couldn't do anything with them. This sense of being confined to what it was killed me. So I didn't really bother.

I had forgotten how remarkably different that was in art. On paper, on canvas. Anything else that wasn't photography. When it comes to replicating your view of the landscape into another medium, purely through use of your own hands, remarkable things can happen. Clearly I'd forgotten. I even feel somewhat ashamed right now. I know better.

I guess that's why seeing Ai Wei Wei's early sketches were so delightful to me. These renderings of real places did justice - you could look at these sketches and imagine the scene and the place, and yet they are still so unique to the artist. This is one person's perspective. How someone else views the world. This went on my bucket list when I got back - to sketch someplace in this style, relying on lines. Someone hold me to it. We'll go for a picnic.
On top of all these great artistic revelations though, there was also this.


Very few, if any of these packets exist anymore. San Lu was the main producer embroiled in the 2008 scandal. But there were many more. I don't think there's really a need to go into what happened. But looking at this did make me think and want to say - to all those who criticise those who buy formula here and ship it to China - yes, it is unfair that mothers in Australia struggle to get their hands on formula for their babies. There is a major supply and demand problem. But imagine being a mother in China, who needs to to get her child's food from overseas, because the formula more available to her is untrustworthy and might kill her child. This is the injustice.

I'm really glad I went to this exhibition. Of many exhibitions I've been to, Ai Wei Wei x Andy Warhol really made an impression, and made me think and feel more than any other. To any doubters who don't value art - this is why it's important.
I'm going back to do liability of statutory authorities now. Happy end of the semester, good luck for exams, and I'll see you all on the other side with another blogpost. I actually have more content backlogged than I thought.

Take care, M. x

Thursday, 14 April 2016

,

Easter Melbourne (1/2)


Leo and I flew out on a Thursday night last month for one of the best long weekends I've ever had. To be honest, we've had a rough start to the year. I really did feel optimistic in January, but a lot of things have happened between them and now, and the Easter long weekend seemed like a good moment to take advantage of. We didn't really set out to hit a lot of tourist-y things in Melbourne, 1) because it was Easter and not everything was open, but also 2) because we wanted to spend some time together, and just relax. Running around a city trying to do all the things is not relaxing. We took our time. We visited a cat cafe, took a walk down the river, visited a bar in the crown.

I honestly feel that there is nothing wrong with travelling this way. Being a little unorganised, unsure about what you want to hit up, and just wandering a little. Going wherever and doing whatever happens to catch your eye on the day. I think for us, we also just wanted to experience living together. We're 19 - Leo turning 20 in August. We've been dating since high school, and we have reached that point in our relationship where we talk about living together and sharing our lives in the future. It was lovely to have a taste of that on this long weekend.

We stumbled on the 200 Years of Australian Fashion in this way. I'm not sure how long it'll be around for - or even if it's already packed up and moved on, but it was such a dream of an exhibition, and just an incredible celebration and exploration of Australian fashion. Seeing actual clothing owned and worn by actual people up to 200 years ago was incredible. I think we don't have a very good conception of how long-lasting clothes can be. Clothing doesn't seem to waste away like food, and yet it doesn't seem to last forever, like plastic. To see dresses and hats and shoes from so many years ago, still in pristine condition is really amazing. You'd think that these kinds of clothes wouldn't exist in today's society, but people have been keeping designer dresses and suits from the 1800s in their homes or private collections, and it was such a treat to see them brought out into the public eye.

Some of the clothes really struck a chord with me. Even hats. I left that exhibition starry-eyed - I guess fashion is an art form that has just really connected with me.



Seeing contemporary Australian fashion slowly come to light was also really incredible. It really gives you an understanding of how long some names have been around for, and what the Australian fashion landscape actually looks like. Australian designers have been growing from strength to strength lately, but it's easy to forget that there are others before them, who were doing things just as great. It also meant a lot to me to see that there could be an exhibition about fashion. Fashion is very much an art form in its own right, and seeing that constant stream of creativity and culture manifest in 200 years worth of Australian fashion was so incredible to see.

I'm also now a proud owner of an absolutely beautiful book that will definitely be on my coffee table sometime in the future.

To be honest, I really miss that weekend. I really miss Melbourne. I haven't been this stressed out or tired in a while - since sometime in the middle of last year, and I would give anything for a long weekend to myself. I'm starting to see that this is probably just who I am - I don't feel comfortable taking my time and having no commitments, and yet, I tend to overwhelm myself with commitments.

Today, I had a talk with my mother at dinner. I love her a lot, and she's done a lot for our family. Talking to her reminded me of how different our perspectives could be. I've been thinking about taking some financial burden off my family - paying for some more things by myself. But my mother refused, and told me not to be ridiculous. I need to study. I don't need to be thinking about paying my own phone bills. I really appreciate that love my family has for me, but it just reminds me that I still have a lot of growing up to do, and a long time to go before I can start my own life.

I think for now, I'm just in a part of my life where I'm waiting for this week to pass, and maybe the next week. I'm stressed out, and I'm worried about my eating and exercising habits, and I want to be doing well academically, but I don't think I'll be achieving the goals I hoped for. I'm mostly alright with this, but I just hope that this won't be my life all the time. I know that it's important to enjoy the day to day, and if I'm not enjoying my life, then I'm definitely living it wrong somehow.

I just don't want to mess up on that point. At least.

With that in mind, I think I've missed the deadline to try and get myself to Fashion Week this year - but I'm also pretty sure I have university. I think sometime soon, I need to reconsider what commitments I'm going to maintain in my life. But the thing that's most important - is that I need to do the things that I genuinely want to do. I'm really excited to be playing Oztag next season, and if I like reading Vogue I really should read Vogue. It's also okay to have a really bad week and talk about it on tumblr, and I should take the time to talk to my friends via text if I'm feeling lonely. I shouldn't not do these things just because I'm busy with study.

I should also do my best with studying and stay motivated. It's an incredible privilege that I can be studying at all, and I need to make the most of that. And on that note - I'm pretty sure I want to take family law in a couple years when electives roll around.

Here's some Maticevski.
I'll see you around kids.
M. x

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Post Apocalyptic Ninja


I'm writing this on a Wednesday morning while listening to a Contracts lecture recording. I'm reassuring myself that I'm still taking notes where I hear something important or interesting, but who knows really. Law is a lot of study, and a lot of repeating the mantra: 'I love law', while feeling overwhelmed by the never ending lists of cases, and persisting with my Japanese Mildliners and yellow post it notes. But there is always some silver lining, like how great the shoot Tara and I squeezed in last Thursday turned out.

Shooting with somebody new is always a really fresh experience. It's riddled with unknowns. Somebody new won't know how I work behind the camera, and what things I look for in a photo, and what I might like them to do in the shot. Everyone has different feelings about what they want in a photo, or what they'd like you to capture, and how they feel and act in front of the camera. Everybody is a little different, and shooting with somebody new is honestly a magical experience in that it feels like the beginning of a really special relationship. Every time Tara told me she really liked a certain shot, I felt that I was learning something more about her, and I was getting closer to capturing who she was. I think it's important to take photos of people where they themselves feel like that image of them really does capture how they feel and see themselves. After all, it's their face, their body - surely I have a duty as a photographer to endeavour to portray them at a level which feels real and accurate to them. It's not just my perspective that matters.


I think it's this that gives me the most satisfaction when it comes to photography. Portraiture gives me a unique opportunity to get to know somebody, and also to do something for them. To make somebody feel that this image that I've taken of them really feels like who they are is a really big deal, and makes me glad that I do photography at all. It's one way where I can give back to the people I care about, or just use my skill for other people's happiness. That itself is very valuable. My photographs don't necessarily need to make me money for me to feel like photography is worth it. If I'm doing something that makes people happy, and that somebody can connect with, I think I can be happy.

A word on Tara: she has a really unique sense of style. I don't come across many people who dress like Tara - she uses colours in a way that I personally couldn't fathom, and the silhouettes she creates with her clothes are such a marvel. On many levels, she is fashion goals, and I'd like to learn more from her just by observing and spending more time with her. If anything, I just want to watch the explosion of colour and texture and pattern that is Tara and I hope to run into her on campus soon. I feel we had really great conversations and just had so much fun getting to know each other as we explored parts of the city that were right under our noses but had never been to. This is also something I like about portrait/fashion photography - inevitably, you grow closer to the person in front of your camera the more time you spend with them. You get to know their likes and dislikes on an aesthetic level, as well as their insecurities, as well as parts of themselves they really embrace and are proud of. You find out more about who they are and what they do and what they care about. In between newly-discovered alleyways and crouching in the grass, you become friends.

It's true that photography for me, is often a gateway into a friendship. It's perhaps not the most organic way for a friendship to blossom, but it is my style. I hope to be having many more of these adventures, in between endless law readings and sushi at that spot in market city.

Checking out for now (and checking into my Contracts textbook). Have a good rest of the week, kids.
M, x

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

,

Forward Motion

I haven't been taking photos the past two months of 2016, and a part of me mourns this fact, and there's a part of me that's okay with it. The first couple months of this year have been difficult for me. Like always, there are always good days, but there were also difficult moments. January was incredibly busy, so I didn't end up mustering up the energy to go out and take photos, and February ended up that way too. But I also know this isn't a very good excuse. So I'm trying to get back into the game. Dearest Alice reminded me recently that I didn't need to construct an image - and that's true. I don't need to compose everything from scratch. I don't need to have a clear vision of what I want to achieve one day. It's okay to just go out one day and capture something. I'd forgotten what that felt like, and heading out to the MCA and the Rocks with Kalppana really reminded me of that.

Kalppana is a person who is really brimming with energy. I've never had a dull moment with her, and even though we haven't known each other for the longest time, it's always such a pleasure spending time with her. I've also never met somebody who is so shameless with taking huge amounts of photos, and I really love that. I feel that sometimes I'm possibly too self conscious, or I feel that getting people to take photos of me is too awkward. Kalppana showed me that that doesn't need to be the case, and I really truly appreciate that. I honestly believe that a good photo of yourself can go a long way in giving your self confidence a boost, even if it is on an aesthetic level only. And if anything - it's something that I needed this week.


My week has been a lot of ups and downs, I've been hit with a lot of restlessness that comes with waiting the extra month for university to start, and some other thoughts and feelings have been bothering me too. I've been cooped up a lot at home too, partially out of necessity, but it didn't help. It meant I was trapped with my own thoughts a lot, and it wasn't doing me any good. So given my situation, I'm really glad that I was able to do something different today, and inject some happiness into myself. Going out one day, visiting a place I haven't been to for a while, having a lovely lunch with a dear friend - these were good things for me. I needed to get out of the house. Picking up a camera again was also really therapeutic (surprisingly so), even though I didn't any clear goals for images in mind.

Something else that I've been reminded of is that I don't need to be the best at something. I'm not the best I could be at photography, and I may not always take the best photos ever, but that doesn't mean that I should cease photography as a worthwhile endeavour. Not everything I do should be results driven. I like photography, and if I like the process of taking long walks, getting excited about good lighting, or good backdrops, and taking my time framing and taking shots, then I should keep at it, no matter the end results. And just because my DSLR is heavy, doesn't mean I shouldn't make the effort to carry it out sometime.

Don't make excuses, Michelle. Just do it (so says your favourite sportswear brand, Nike).

I hope that the rest of this month, and the rest of the year, will turn out alright. My pessimism means that I know better than to hope that I'll have the best year ever (the overwhelming odds are definitely not in my favour), but I will endeavour to make the most of it. I'm fairly happy with how February turned out, and even though March currently looks like it might have some rough patches, I know I'll be alright. And even if I do have a bad morning, or afternoon, or night, or day - there will always be tomorrow. The world isn't going to end because something went wrong. I'm stronger than that, and I know better.

All the best.

And doesn't Kalppana just look beautiful?

Bye for now,
M.

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