Napoli: Beauty in the chaos

Out of all the cities I explored during my trip to Italy last year, Naples (or Napoli in Italian) left the deepest impression – for many reasons.

naples b&w

The first thing that hit me upon stepping into Napoli was chaos. Being the gateway to Southern Italy, which differs greatly from the more affluent and internationalised North, it was the most flavourful, colourful and boisterous and crazy place I visited in Italy, or maybe even Europe thus far.

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On street photography

Discovered Robert Frank’s photography today – would really love to learn more about different photographers and their work. Robert Frank’s collection of photographs The Americans revealed a side, or perhaps the reality, of an America that was not living the American Dream, at a time when it was most glorified.

Words that come to my mind when I look at his pictures – emotive, raw, honest, grit, invisible, poignant. 

As a photographer, I can identify deeply with his photographs because of the way they are shot – he chose to remain invisible, capturing the moments he saw quickly and then moving on.

I know there are ethical and philosophical debates about street photography and the role of the photographer. Some choose to make a story from their pictures by interacting with and seeking to understand their subjects, dispelling certain assumptions that we would make of an image or moment at first glance.

Others, however, choose to remain a fly on the wall, simply observing and sieving out the beauty and humanity in honest, everyday moments.

I belong to the latter camp, mainly because I am an introvert and the act of taking in and connecting with my environment takes me into the zone and sometimes even overwhelms me. When I walk around with my camera I feel it becoming an extension of my existence.

While I understand the social impact that interacting with photography subjects and telling their stories can make, I also have this strong inkling that the mystery and poignancy of certain photographers’ work would dissipate if they tried to break that barrier of unspoken connection between them and the moment.

Robert Frank is one of them.

Haven’t been struck by photography in this way for such a long time. Leaving this post with my favourite photos from him, and a quote that inspired me from an NPR interview:

“Like a boxer trains for a fight,” Frank says, a photographer needs to practice by getting out and taking pictures every day. “It doesn’t matter how many he takes or if he takes any at all. It gets you prepared to know what you should take pictures of or what is the right thing to do and when.”

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While perhaps less purposeful than photojournalism and documentary photography, street photography also plays a part for social justice in its own way. By capturing the humanity and emotions found in ordinary moments that we share with millions of strangers across the globe, it makes us realise that we aren’t that distant or vastly different after all.

Dominique Falla, tactile typographer

threads

“Branding, advertising and all forms of communication rely on a wide variety of techniques to get the message across. There are visual, aural and haptic methods, but in the end, we all default to language as a primary form of communication when it comes to complex ideas.”

– an important self-reminder to never underestimate the unwavering power of the written word

Check out her amazing work and interview here

 

It takes two to Tango

Every weekend, I am torn between the desire to do nothing and the desire to do everything. The weekends have been reduced to two precious days we can call our own, and sometimes, the cryptic in me wonders if the expression ‘desk-bound’ actually has a connotation of imprisonment. Besides the fact that I’m struggling with a career that clashes with my core beliefs and personality (had no idea it’d be so bad when I started), I guess most of life is mundane drudgery, and we have to constantly seek ways to go beyond the constraint of our selves, whether it is art, religion, spirituality, love or friendship.

I have to remember that nothing revitalises and uplifts my soul more than a good dose of art – whether it is watching a film or a play, reading a good book or a great piece of writing, and then the lengthy discussions that overflow with passion afterwards.

On Friday night, I went to see the play Tango by Singaporean playwright Joel Tan (whom I just followed on WordPress lol).

tango

Photo credit: Bakchormeeboy.com, who also wrote a great review on the play

Tango is a play centred around a gay couple Kenneth (Singaporean) and Liam (British) who have returned to Singapore to care for Kenneth’s ailing father, bringing along their 12-year-old adopted son Jayden. The main conflict in the story involved a confrontation with an elderly waitress at a Chinese restaurant in Singapore, who refused to serve them because they were “not normal people”. This incident, recorded by a bystander on video, went viral on social media, sparking outrage at the elderly woman’s homophobic behaviour, and triggering the long-contained anger of the LGBT community in Singapore.

The play, while filled with funny and heartwarming moments, is only made more poignant because of how real and realistic it is. An example is the continual allusions to the Singapore government’s decision to ban foreigners from attending Pink Dot, an annual LGBT rally and event at Hong Lim Park, a venue allocated for public protests in Singapore.

Although Tango is a play centred around LGBT issues, it is more than just a play about LGBT issues. Through the central conflict in the story and the perspectives of different characters, the play addresses social and cultural issues in our society.

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endangered sounds

Museum of Endangered Sounds

A museum of sounds we have lost, or will soon lose with the passage of time. I love this project because it is a refreshing way of documenting history. Certain sounds of our daily life can form memories that are so personal, yet shared in a collective nostalgia.

I’ve always thought that sounds are really important, and easily taken for granted – until we realise we’ve stopped hearing them. For example, the sounds of activity at a local coffee shop kopitiam in Singapore – the clinking of teaspoons and glass cups of kopi or teh. The rapid stirring motion of the drinks stall uncle as he makes various concoctions of local drinks. The buzz of the ventilators and stoves in the zi char kitchen, turning out plate after plate of comfort food like sambal kangkong or sweet & sour pork.

What if one day, the hot, greasy and unglamorous stalls of the hawker centre or kopitiam are forsaken, in the face of chain restaurants in the endless sprout of new malls?

And then there are the friendly uncles and aunties running little shops selling provisions or hardware, or a fascinating array of household items we need at home for cleaning, organising, cooking or repairing.

Or the heartland or market stalls selling golden tins of gem biscuits, the sound of coffee beans being ground, and the bargaining and banter of the butchers and fishmongers at the wet market every morning.

And the wrapping of chicken rice, fried kway teow, Hainanese curry rice or roti prata in a square of brown paper, tied up with a red rubber band.

As the sounds of the present become obsolete with new development trends and technologies, will they all be forgotten?

me & you /isn’t this lovely ?

What Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type Means When They Say ‘I Love You’

INFP: Loving you has become a part of who I am.

Love is a deeply personal experience to the INFP and they take the feeling anything but lightly. When an INFP loves you, they aren’t just concerned for your wellbeing – they feel all of your pains, your struggles and your triumphs as their own. Loving you becomes a part of their core identity and part of the way in which they define their very selves. When this type says ‘I love you,’ they are letting you know that the way they feel about you has infiltrated their most intimate thoughts and emotions.

ISFJ: I value your happiness as my own.

ISFJs are selective about who they fall in love with – but once they fall, they fall deeply and completely. This huge-hearted type takes on the needs of their lovers as their own. They genuinely find it difficult to be personally happy if their loved ones are distressed, and therefore take it upon themselves to provide diligently for the people they care about. When an ISFJ says ‘I love you,’ they are telling you that they are incredibly invested in your happiness – and that they want to help you achieve it at any cost.