Hin Chua's Magnetic North

Magnetic North can be considered a base camp, a general point of reference for my wanderings and ramblings.

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The opening picture of Gregory Halpern’s book “A”

When Stanley first showed me this book a few weeks ago, I remember he told me that this may be one of the all-time great opening photographs in a photography book. The longer I look at the book, the more I realise that he could be right.

Solo show in Paris

Greetings comrades,

It may please you (it certainly pleases me!) to know that I will be having a solo show in Paris in a couple of weeks. I first met with the great crew at La Petite Poule Noire during Paris Photo in November and we spent the next month discussing the possibility of an exhibition. I’m thrilled to say this has come to pass.

So for everyone in the vicinity, please consider this to be your formal invitation to the opening. I’ll be displaying 30 prints from After the Fall and for those of you with money in your pockets, they’ll all be for sale. I will also be in Paris for the weekend of the opening, so it’d be more than a pleasure to catch up with some of you!

Opening details

Saturday 4th February (18:30 to 22:00)

La Petite Poule Noire
12 bd des Filles du Calvaire
75011 Paris

The gallery is nearest the Saint Sébastien Froissart metro station on the 8 line, but also very walkable from Oberkampf on the 5 line. Here’s a map.

The exhibition proper runs till Saturday 17th March (the gallery is closed during Fashion Week).

Mailing List

Ok kids, I’ve gone and set up a mailing list to keep you in the personal one-to-one (ok, one-to-many) loop in case of future interesting Hin Chua-related announcements? Why? Because future interesting Hin Chua-related announcements are pending.

So sign up here!

Joel Sternfeld at FOAM

I just returned from seeing ‘Color Photographs since 1970’ in Amsterdam. The appeal for me was not only to get a look at some of the ‘American Prospects’ work in the flesh but to explore Sternfeld’s earlier 35mm images. While only a limited selection of photographs could be displayed due to space constraints, it was interesting to watch his development as he wandered through various styles which could be described as Egglestonian, Winograndish or Levittesque.

Indeed there were some pretty mediocre street photographs (using flash) of the type that many photographers make the mistake of getting into during at least one point in their careers. But even then, one could clearly discern a progression, an increasing sophistication and subtlety in his photographs. You see that too with many newish photographers; you tell yourself “wow, this person has an eye, I wonder what could happen in a few years?” The curse of potential, like the hopes placed on many a high-school baseball pitcher, is both a sad and wondrous thing. You see the photographer grow for a period, and then bump into a few walls, stuck at a particular plateau, and then that usually is the end of the story.

In Sternfeld’s case, he may or may not have run into his own share of obstacles as he began. But what is certain is that within 4-5 years of making most of these photographs, he began work on ‘American Prospects’. And that took things to a totally different kind of level…

Format Festival hanging guide

Here’s the hanging plan I used for my exhibition at the Format Festival earlier this year. I wanted to use images of different sizes, and I was growing exceedingly tired of the traditional horizontal grid. I felt I needed something a little more organic that gelled more closely with the meandering way I made my photographs.

This hanging plan was the result. At the festival’s opening night, I was boogying on the dance floor with the delightful girl who hung my work. “Hin, to be honest I was terrified of making a mistake! This was the most complex thing I had to do during the whole week!” While I sympathised in the flesh, a part of me quietly rejoiced internally: I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

New Territories, Hong Kong, January 2009

The story behind this photo was that I needed a place to pee badly. Really badly. I came across a small scrapyard that was sealed off by a gate and fence. As I debated whether to dash inside, the caretaker noticed me looking in with my camera and very generously beckoned me inside. I made this exposure and then quickly ran behind the pilings to relieve myself. Too much information? I think not!

The Great Leap Sideways

Stanley on The Great Leap Sideways has posted an interesting little essay on ‘After the Fall’.

Boso Peninsula, January 2011

Here’s a few little paragraphs on fototazo about a photograph I made in Japan earlier this year.

Outside a Japanese Self-Defence Force base, Kyoto, December 2010

The ephmeral ephmeral

My photography is so focused on capturing the ephemeral: landscapes, or scenes within landscapes that are transitory either in state or in terms of my relationship with them.

In that spirit, here’s a photograph of those photographs: 145 undeveloped rolls of film from February 2011 to the present, which includes my China trip. The odds are good that I may never see a sight like this again.

You all look the same to me

Prior to boarding the Cathay Pacific flight at Heathrow, the customs official flipped through my papers and dryly remarked “now that’s a pretty well used passport!” I’d never paid heed to the fact before, but he was right. Beginning as a bumpkin who had remained within Australia’s borders for seven years and never visited Europe till 2004, I somehow managed to almost completely consume an entire passport in less than five years of travelling under my own steam.

As I meandered throughout the urban countryside bordering Beijing , I began reflecting on my experience as a foreigner photographing around the world and how it both reflected upon and affected my identity.

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Reflections on my first day in Beijing

Before I arrived in Beijing, there was a period of a couple of days where I was feeling extremely apprehensive about returning to China. I had last visited Shanghai at the end of 2007, when my process of working was far less disciplined (it was almost completely free-form to be honest: turn up at a random location, walk around for several hours without any map or any idea I where I was going and then try to find my way back home). Since then, my practice has evolved considerably in terms of research: mapping of locations via Google Maps, utilising Street View for reconnaissance and plotting an appropriate path with suitable end point (so that I didn’t have to return home the way I came).

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