(screenshot from chang ming’s instagram, projected on a wall in the house where i live)
Lee Chang Ming is a Singaporean photographer and artist interested in themes of intimacy, gender, and the everyday. His practice contemplates the subjective act of looking and the photographic medium as a process, exploring ideas of optics and haptics. He also runs Nope Fun, an independent publisher and platform focusing on photography and contemporary image making.
His work, Beneath the Bodhi and the Banyan, is currently exhibited at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan as part of Affect Machine: Self-Healing in the Post-Capitalist Era. The group exhibition is on view until December 19, 2021.
Chang Ming and I also recorded a conversation last year:
NOPE FUN / Interview #491: Dennese Victoria
Song from Chang Ming, 2017, white room, June has snacks: Hiroshi Satoh, Say Goodbye
building a house
I don’t yet know how to explain how much this conversation means to me. I feel humbled. I feel relieved. I feel like I am a good friend. It’s easy for me to forget that possibility. I think friendship, or relationships for this matter, have always been my earliest sources of anxiety. I was good at school, and then I was good at work. But leave me anywhere without a task, without something to accomplish, and I am lost and often unable to speak. And moving, I am always somehow moving and changing. And I’m not sure how I’ll come back. Or for those that care, have cared for me, how they’ll find me once I do come back.
I met Chang Ming in 2016 at a workshop in Penang though what I remember the most is dancing. Him and Amrita and Asrul and dancing. How beautiful and vulnerable and strong Yu Yu was. How June was always warm. In 2019 in Berlin, Fadli was the one dancing, his two hands raised and I was sober, I’m almost always sober, and handing out glasses of water from the bar to Alvin and Geric and everyone and Amrita looked liked Norah Jones because she was so happy. How Kanel grew in his work though we cried. It’s hard to look at his work.
I’ve been slowing down these days. Letting others in slowly. Letting myself in others’ lives even slower. The way other people fantasize about things, I often dream of scenes of being forgiven. Hello again, Comet. Yes, you can try again. Come, stand beside me for now. There’s time. There’s enough time.
19 August 2021
Metro Manila / Singapore
Lee Chang Ming
I discovered something today. You started Nope Fun in August.
I can't remember actually
I looked at the archives and the first post is August 26 or something
It's been 11 years of you doing this
I should have an anniversary party
I like the coincidence that it's your anniversary month. And then I checked the questions too because I was wondering, I wonder how he has changed, in terms of how you ask questions.
It was totally different
You were asking how long they brushed their teeth
Yeah, it was always very trivial, kind of frivolous questions. Like, what's your favourite food. Or what's your favourite place in the house. Stuff that's totally not related to photographs. The one thing that I kept constant is asking about music - What's your favourite music? What do you recommend?
Take me back. Where were you then?
2010 I had just finished army.
Because here in Singapore, we have to do compulsory conscription for military.
I didn't know.
How did you look like?
I did two years of military. I know I don't look like it, but I was in the infantry. So I was in a jungle with guns and everything in the front lines like, camping or whatever. But I was just training, there's no war here. It was two years of pain and suffering.
So I finished and then I was really following a lot of online blogs, like art blogs, not just photography, but just art blogs in general. And then seeing a lot of artists that inspired me and all that. So then I was like, Why don't I just start it myself?
Actually Nope Fun first started on Flickr. You know, just browsing through, and so then I started a Flickr group first and after that I also started a Tumblr.
So I would message - my first few interviews I actually conducted on Flickr then I posted them on Tumblr. And it's like, nothing to lose, right? So I was just reaching out to all these photographers that I liked at the time or whatever. I mean, if not, how am I ever going to talk to these people? I just started Nope Fun without thinking very much at all. It just really started on a whim, like one random night and Nope Fun itself is just a song at that time on My Space.
It's a song?
It's a song, yeah, but I can't find it anymore because I think My Space is a bit, I mean, who uses that now? And so it was just some random small experimental band. Anyway. So, it was just like this. That's how I started it. Nothing serious at all.
So you were following a lot of people online, but were you shooting also?
A little bit, yeah.
I can't remember if you studied art or something.
No, no. I was studying Communications and New Media. But it's not creative in that sense. There weren't any creative projects like photography or drawing or whatever, I was not aware of it like that. But it was more like academic theories. So photography is just mainly self-taught. But I also like to think that through looking at a lot, or getting influenced by looking at a lot of different styles, and seeing what I liked, and what resonated with me, that the internet was my teacher.
I just thought of this funny joke cause I didn't know that you were in the military. So after you were shooting guns, and then now you're shooting photographs. I didn't know that. Such nice information.
Yeah, you don't get to choose.
So, it's only for men? Amrita's not going to the jungle?
No, where is the gender equality here? Two years of my life. And two years of the prime of our life. Of our youth.
Is there an age requirement?
Depends, but usually after 18 for most people.
That's intense. So yeah, I was just surprised that it's been 11 years. And then now, to know that it came from your military era. And so I wanted to ask you, how would you introduce yourself now? Because it's been a long time.
I'm trying to recall how I did it. I think it was just on Flickr mail at first and just like, "Hi, I'm starting a blog. Would you be interested? I just have a list of like five or six questions". And then surprisingly, most of them reply.
And then somewhere in between, I don't know, maybe like 40 or 50 interviews I can't remember, it started to be a bit more popular and then from then on after the first few interviews, it was all people submitting. So, I didn't ask people, they submitted to me.
At first I wasn't very selective. I said, "Oh wow people are interested". I have to accept everyone, but after a while, I felt the need to maybe be a bit more selective. You know, just only featuring people that I really like. So, in a sense in the whole beginning part, I didn't really ask anyone.
But for maybe the last couple of years, I think it was when I started working, though now when I think about it, it's all corresponding to phases in my life. So, I was very, very active during my university years and even after, like three or four posts a week. But then once I started working, there was just no energy to maintain it. So, I just slowed down a lot.
If you've been through my archive, you probably noticed that there were very big gaps in between. So that's when I started working. And I guess it took a side line. And so after that the web traffic went down a lot and people stopped submitting. So, there were even bigger gaps. And then when I had time, I was like, okay, I want to start it again. I started writing to people that I wanted to start it again.
And recently you've been doing it once a month, no? Like once a month you release something.
I've been trying to get back into it. But also, you know the questions changed a lot. So it was very frivolous, but then I guess you could say the kind of people who were submitting were also a bit more serious about their practice. And I guess in my own practice I also was beginning to be a bit more serious about it. So maybe that's why the questions changed along the way.
And another interesting thing was that the questions that I ask are always things that turn out relevant to things that I wanted to find out for myself.
So, in the beginning stages, I was asking them, What's more important? Aesthetics, or content? I think that was a recurring question for the first 100 interviews or something. But then after that, I kind of moved on and said, okay, I think I already know this, for myself, and then after that, I asked other questions that I'm interested to see what people think about.Certain things that I was thinking about. For example, ideas about truth versus fiction in photography.
I like that you mention this lightness because I've always felt a kind of lightness from you or from your approach. Not in the sense that you don't take it seriously, because you work so hard I feel, like you're always releasing something. But always releasing something is both a product of your hard work and also, your ability to let it go.
Yeah, you're right. I didn't really articulate it that way but it's definitely how it is. Like not wanting to take the work too seriously but also very serious at the same time. How do I explain?
Because you were also saying how you began Nope Fun was that you just did it. Was there no dark night of the soul? A kind of, I must do this?
No, because from the beginning, at least, when it came to Nope Fun, it was like, if I didn't want to do it, then I would have just stopped. Because it's just me, there's nothing, there’s really nothing to lose. And even now there’s nothing to lose. And it's not like I'm doing this to build a reputation, or to network, and I don't depend on it for a living, either. It's just really for my own interest. So the stakes are low for myself.
But when it came to my own photography, or my own practice, I think it depends on each project. Like certain projects, I don't have so much attachment to. But those that are more personal, then I think I do have more attachment.
After the photos are taken, when it comes to putting it out there, I do actually struggle quite a bit with thinking, Okay, how do I present it? Some works actually, I have held on to for many years and I've never shown anyone. But then I’m also like, Why am I keeping it in? Why do I even make it in the first place? So then sometimes I just put it up.
Or maybe for some of the work, I’ll have an idea that maybe this would be very good in this context, maybe it could be a book or maybe an exhibition. But then the right time never arrives to sort of put it out there. And then it just gets left in a corner.
So as soon as I think that it's to my own detriment that I overthink when it’s the right thing, or when it's the right opportunity to throw something out there, then the other side of me will be like, Don't think so much and just go with it. Do it first and then figure it out later.
But I think we probably talked about this before, that most of my ideas - I just never do it in the end. I think it's probably similar for you too, I’m sure you have a lot of ideas but like getting down to doing it or actually showing it, it's another thing.
I don't know if I'm imagining it but I feel a sense of confidence from you. Like a secret confidence maybe. For example when you were talking about how you weren’t thinking about your career, I wanted to ask you if you were not conscious of being watched, especially by, for example, people whose opinions you value. So, I kind of envied that you feel a bit more free maybe or I don't know if it's an illusion, because I'm outside of your mind, but I do feel a certain sense of confidence about it.
I think I get what you mean. Like, I think my confidence mainly comes from me being sure in what I like. And now my thinking will be, if I like it, someone out there is going to like it. So it's that kind of approach rather than trying to appeal to everyone or anything. I think I'm always trying to appeal to myself because then that way you attract like-minded people.
Has it always been that way? Have you always been like that as a kid? Like, I know what I want.
Maybe. Kind of. I think as a kid, yeah, I think I’m just very weird. I’m not really very sociable.
Which is just strange to say because you've just interviewed 495 people.
Yeah but I’m talking about face to face, or social settings. On the internet, it's a different thing. It's easier in a way. Approaching people in the street, or in a party or event is different from email exchanges, right?
For you, is it like totally different rooms in your personality?
Maybe no, maybe it’s a bit more bridged. I would like to think a bit more sociable now.
I think it’s interesting. The internet self is not exactly like, I mean it is still true, but it's not exactly your daily self. Last time when we were still just messaging, you were telling me something about it being more organic for you, that whatever friendships you develop from the hundred people whether it’s with your work or with Nope Fun.
But then I was thinking, isn't organic connection, isn’t it still born from this desire? Out of an intention? So, you still thought about it. And for example, you let people submit, but later on, you kind of thought, No, now I have to select.
Yeah, you're right, it's not entirely organic in that sense. But it starts off with the intent, maybe someone submits, and then after that, whether or not we carry on that connection is up to us.
For example, one of the people that submitted to me, this guy called Alex, and he was like, I think he was living in the US but he used to live in Singapore. And so he submitted and I featured him, and his family lives here so when he visited Singapore, he said, Let's meet up. So we met in person, and then he connected me to some of his other friends in Singapore.
And then his friends are people that I hang out with now. So, it's like, indirectly he connected me to his other friends, and then now they’re my good friends. That kind of thing.
I think that's what I mean. Because you can never plan these things. But if I didn't have that platform of Nope Fun, then I wouldn't have never made that kind of friendship. Of course, out of the 400, no, most of them after that are like, whatever.
Another one is, for example this Japanese photographer submitted and then we exchanged emails quite often after that, and we have this email chain, that is, I think, 99 emails, really.
Anyway, when he came to Singapore, we shared a table for Singapore Art Book Fair. So, it’s like, Wow we’re in real life. But I also think that it starts from this common interest of photography or art. And then because there's a common interest, then it's very easy to talk about, talk about anything.
So, when you do meet them in real life, it’s still like bridges, they're still the same?
Because for example, my problem is sometimes I think the people that talk to me online, they have this weird imagination of me that they look for when they meet me. And then they're kind of disappointed. Like they expected to be closer than I wanted, or than I was ready for. And especially with my recent work, with the invitations, it's just really a bit intimate.
I'm having trouble with that - where to, or how to make people understand that access to me during the work, and in real life, are like different doors. It’s also hard to suddenly tell people that, Please enter through another door. So I don’t know.
Maybe, and because you're talking about doors right now, I was imagining, it's how you build your house around you. Like you’re your own architect building how people can reach you.
And so maybe yours is a little bit more like there’s a door for other people and there's another door for others. Maybe there's another for other things. For me also, maybe there's a window that's always open, and then another door that's here.
Because depending on who you meet, you behave differently, right? Whether it's with your relatives or with artist friends or with your colleagues, I would say, based on those kinds of different relations, then you behave a certain way because it’s a different part of yourself. And they are all real, and they're all true, but it's just, yeah, different parts.
I do feel that they're all real. Just different parts of the puzzle.
I didn't expect this, because I was imagining that you were messaging people for Nope Fun. I didn't know that they came to you. Which is actually interesting because when I approach people, like whether it's for an official reason, or something personal, I always overthink the part about, Who am I to ask for their time?
But then when I do begin to ask, I almost always kind of realize that a lot of people want to be asked. And then when I heard you say that they came themselves, I was thinking that maybe people do want to be found more than I think they want to be.
Yeah, I think so. I think so. Nothing to add.
But then there's a different context right? Because for me, it was that I’m running this blog, this platform that people can get exposure or whatever, so I'm offering something, in a way.
Because I give them this network, not really a network but people who read it. So I feel like I always gave more; I'm offering something more than they would see.
But for you, in your case, the stakes are higher I feel, because you're really putting yourself in it. For me, it's kind of like, it’s just a website and that's how it starts; for you it's like you are momentarily in that relationship between you and the person.
But they don't get exposure.
Yeah, so I guess it’s like, what can you offer them? What can they offer you? I guess I never really thought of it that way.
But you still give time. You still give time, I feel. And I don't think a lot of people get asked often. That's what I like about what you do. I don't think a lot of people are asked often. That's what I like about the space.
I wanted to ask, because you were saying something about how you often feel like you offer more than they can give. Because I was also thinking before that, I wonder if you wish that they also asked you. I know you usually just send questions, right? And then they answer back? So I wonder if you sometimes feel like hoping they would also ask you back.
Yeah, possible. I think in the more recent ones I did. But there's not so much of a deep reason other than I wanted to keep the format consistent. And that format also allowed me to do so many in a short time.
But if you're having more of back and forth, like what we did for your interview, which I really enjoyed, there's so much more time and effort involved. And it’s a different format altogether. So maybe I would love to have some separate platform for a more in-depth conversation as opposed to just Q&A, because for most of the features as you know, it’s just Q&A. And they don't ask me anything, it's just me sending questions.
So you would introduce yourself, and then they’d send in the answers, and then usually it ends like that? Are you happy with that? Or does it not like feel a bit cold or something? Or is it because you decided it that way?
I think it's because I decided that way. But also, it's kind of like, yes, it's a bit cold, but then it’s a foot in the door. And then anytime, I can just contact them again and say, Hey two years ago, I interviewed you about this thing. So at least there's some kind of connection there. Even though it's not deep, it's still something.
Like what I said in the beginning, when I started it, I really didn't think about it at all. It's just I’m just going to do this thing and then I started it. And then somehow people seemed to like it, and then I just stuck to that format. So there's no real deep reflection on my side as to why I put it exactly in that formula other than, that's how I started and then I just kept to it. In fact, it's only on the more recent ones that it’s kind of a little more in-depth. Cause you were suggesting this approach that’s not just Q&A, so I was like, okay.
Thanks for giving me extra work. Thanks for making me work harder? But no, because I'm really just curious also. So I began in this “world” of art exhibitions around 2015. And at first, I was just happy about the pictures on the wall, and sometimes the free flights. But now I’m also thinking, I wonder if I'm making the most of it. Or, how do I actually do that?
I remember when we were in Germany, and Fadli was, like, super pro. He was giving his books and stuff, and we were like, What do we eat?
Yeah he was probably meeting some important person and we were like, Where do we go? There’s a nice café there.
We were just following June.
I don't know if we're making the most of it, or if it’s okay that we're still learning. But I remember during that time, like a very meaningful part of it for me was during the time Amrita was cooking, and Jörg was telling us about his project. About his project in, was it South America?
And I didn't even know that his mother had died early and that's why he made that project. So, to me, that was the, Okay, this is why I'm here. Because it's very human. And so it’s not just the free flights, not just the allowance.
I don't know. You've been to a lot of fairs. And you had that interview.
Not a lot of fairs actually, it's just Singapore Art Book Fair.
What’s the one with Czar?
Oh, that was another event. It was like a one-off thing organized by two of my friends slash acquaintances. And yeah, it was an event where we talked about publishing and self-publishing art books. And then they released a few artists' books, and then had this panel discussion about publishing and bookmaking.
Do those things that feel the same to you? Does it give you a kind of, Woah, this is where I’m meant to be? On a scale of 1 to 10 does it feel like a meaningful event for you? I guess I'm asking, When do you feel successful? When do you feel like you’ve made it? Or, which things come close to that?
Yeah, I think to maybe cut across a few of your questions or stories just now from about the time in Germany to about finding success and meaning, I think, because I’m also thinking more about meaning - about what I find meaningful in all these experiences.
At the end of the day, it is about finding a connection, like a real connection to other people. Like meeting all of you guys, that's the biggest takeaway, right? For me, it's also very inspiring. And, or like you just mentioned, I got to meet Czar, and we became friends and hung out for a few days, and right now we still chat randomly now and then which is very, very nice.
And I don't think it's just like, Oh, I’m making a new friend. It’s also because we have certain, a common understanding through making art or photographs and therefore there’s this language that we can understand and that we can’t with other people who are not involved in this creative or art making kind of thing. There’s this certain kind of mutual understanding, or like, solidarity.
Like an affirmation.
Like an affirmation too, yes. But the success part, for me I have the privilege of not depending on it for a living. This was a deliberate choice in this current point of time to not depend on it for a living so I don't have to operate in a certain way.
So I think that kind of frees me a bit from what I perceive a proper artist or photographer should be and to just do things the way I wanted to.
So maybe that relates to your earlier point on how maybe you see me as a bit more than free or light, and not taking it too seriously.
Because, yeah, I don't a hundred percent focus, I don't depend on it for my day to day, and therefore I'm able to be a bit more free about how I deal with it and that's not to say I don't take it seriously because actually, I feel like I take it more seriously than let's say, my day job. But I don't have to be so tied down with it
Do you know what I mean? Because I imagine that if I had to do it full time, my approach would be very different. And I don't think I would enjoy it at this current point in my life. I don't know about the future, but now, when I think of the pressure to behave a certain way, or to present myself a certain way, and maybe even market myself a certain way, and go out and network more like how I would do in my day job, that all of this would take the joy out of it.
Maybe I was thinking of, or wondering about what would your dream projects be? How do you imagine growing or something?
My dream project would be to travel to some amazing place in nature, like go to Iceland or something, and just live there for a while, do a residency there, then maybe take some photos. And, yeah, make something there. To just go somewhere inspiring or different. Somewhere I can feel more alive?
Because I think I complain to you that I feel very alienated with work in a way. But yeah, so I guess doing things that are like, Woah i'm alive.
This is where I'm meant to be.
And then the dream part would be nothing about how I am going to sell it or whatever. That's the least interesting part. How about you? Do you have a dream?
I want to be cool enough to be able to give grants and hire people. That's kind of been my dream since the pandemic started.
Because for example I'm friends with these filmmakers, they run Los Otros, which is where I did that residency, and I feel like their life is kind of close to my ideal life. Like they would sometimes call at the most random of times and it'll be like Hey, we have this project, would you like to participate? Whether they would call me to fly to Seoul, Goa, or Shanghai, or to participate in a 16mm filmmaking workshop, I want to be able to do that.
I feel like here, in this room, because we're making such intimate, personal projects, it is kind of life-saving when you find someone who understands, like what you were saying about finding connection.
That's why I kind of feel a bit of guilt. Or maybe it's not guilt, but just like a desire to, I wish I could give you what I'm feeling right now. That kind of, this is where i'm meant to be. Sorry that's funny.
So recently because of the pandemic I'm thinking of that a lot. But I have a lot to learn. I'm not good with meetings. I'm still learning, learning not really to sell, but just not to cancel myself out.
For example, recently another friend called me and he was like, Hey, I'm shooting this film. It's a small film, it's just for an exhibit. I want you to shoot it. And then for example that person would say, I like your work. And then I would immediately say, Are you sure?
Because I'm also scared. Because I feel like I change a lot? And the things I am able to do before, I'm not sure if I can do them again. And that's why when people bring me their visions, their projects, I'm scared. Like I might not…that I don't measure up to that, to what you have in your head.
I was going to ask you earlier about... I’m happy you mentioned the thing about connection, how that's what we actually go for.
Can I add on to mine? Because when you mentioned offering other people grants, and all, I also thought that actually one of the things I always wanted to do is to have my own space. Like an exhibition or event space. And then have exhibits, or gigs, or whatever, just really having that space to do things that you would like, and then offering it to other people to do things they would like.
One of my favourite shows that I did was in a small artist gallery that was almost just out of the blue. I mean I knew them from before, and it was just like 2 artists that were like, Do you want to do a show? We have the space for 2 weeks and you can just do anything, and that was like the most freeing and wonderful kind of experience. And so like I was saying I want to have my own thing where I can offer other people that kind of space to do things.
I have this thing where I feel like I have to earn things. But then when I think about who has space and can give space, most of the time, it's just people with resources. And it’s not always like because they were the best or something. They just have resources. And so I think about that a lot, that maybe it's not as impossible as I think it is. That would be nice. To be able to just go like, Hey you can have a show.
Because, for example from the open call last year, I'm still very haunted by it, you know? I had this dream of making a book. I wanted to take a single image from the selection from each artist, and then get more from people we didn't select, and just make a book out of it. But I didn't get a grant for it. I applied twice, and I was like, Why?
In the proposal I wrote something about how I wanted to use the grant money to give artists fees, and then print a single book for each artist. So for example, from the 24, maybe I can do 48, and then they get one book each and so do the people that have helped in bringing that project to life. I’m like, Why is that not cool enough?
And also, after that curation, I'm also asking myself like, How many more people do I need to meet? Like, I can't even keep up with you, and YuYu, and everyone.
Yeah, me too. I’m the same. I'm the same.
So I guess it's normal, no?
Yeah, I think it's totally normal.
I feel a lot of guilt about it. Maybe it's because I was raised Christian.
Yeah me too.
Too much being told that you have to give back. Because I go back to that, that it is very life-saving sometimes when you are given something.
I was also looking at your website. And then I was looking at Soft Bloom again. And then I'm only noticing now how clear it is as opposed to the ones before and that it is more quiet. It's less of a passing, like how I was telling you about the lightness in your work earlier, but with Soft Bloom the images have a more clarity to them. And then I read the text about the eyes touching the photograph… And so I wonder, did you change cameras? Or did you just change in terms of approach or feelings?
More of the feeling. And I think most of those kinds of projects, Until Then, this one, and my other series as well, it's more about the kinds of feelings when taking it, and when i'm editing after that. And actually, Asrul said the same thing as you. He said, Oh, this is so different. Like, I feel so much more still.
But it's the same camera, it is the same camera that I used for Until Then. So, I'm also very happy that both you and him noticed it because that was what I wanted too - I guess to show a different kind of feeling. And that kind of feeling you can't really say, or speak about in a way. So i'm very glad that not only myself but that other people can also pick up on that.
It's very clear. But maybe also because you had more time to photograph than Until Then.
Yeah, but that one is still ongoing.
Do you feel a need to close a project?
Usually not. But recently, I've been thinking that sometimes I guess I do. Like one of the things that has been on my mind the past few weeks is this earlier, so-called series, I don't even know if you can call it a series. But the Idle Hands series, it's on my website, i don't know if you saw it, but it was one of the things I showed when we first met.
You had a zine
You saw it?
I don't know if I saw it online or in real life, but I remember you had a zine. Also, in all my memories of you, you’ve somehow always brought something printed with you.
Yeah, I did. But yeah I was showing that and I remember them sitting there saying, Oh it's just like random pictures that you put together. And it could be in any other series. And I didn't realize it until recently that actually, that has affected me since then, like this, this short comment. I forgot that I had to unlearn that, that kind of feeling. But I guess at that point it was like, okay, these serious photographers are telling me that this has to mean something.
But then now, after some time, I realize that actually, that's not true. I knew what I was doing. And through their perspective, that's what they saw but then again, it was a photography workshop and there's a certain way of understanding and reading images.
So looking back, I realised, actually, no, actually maybe you just didn't see the whole... the bigger picture that I was trying to, or the bigger feeling I was trying to capture.
I was going to say, that they also changed after that workshop.
Yeah, even with the friendship book.
They were more random after that.
Yeah. Maybe we changed them too.
I feel like we do affect each other, in a way. Especially if we listen we will. It's inevitable. It might come out later, but I feel that we do change each other.
So it scared you? It scared you that they felt it was random?
At the time I was like, oh okay, it was almost like a kind of shortcoming. I think it was the way they said it also. But now when I think about it, I've been thinking of making a zine, or a book about that series, even though it's so long ago.
Maybe I'm just getting old, but those are photos I took in my twenties and then yeah, I just want to kind of close it in a way. Like making something, and then kind of just leaving that and moving on.
But before that I didn't really think, Okay, I'm going to end this and start something new, and then this will start something new. Or even thinking of projects as strictly projects, because they all overlap in the end. For me, I think they all overlap.
I also move images. For example for the fake family, there were photographs from my real family project and I just felt like they could go there too. And that maybe I will also use them later. I feel like it's okay. I think it's okay to let yourself change and see things another way.
I'm remembering a thought. I was looking at Soft Bloom and then I was looking at Beneath the Bodhi and Banyan, and so I had this thought of, Chang Ming is photographing gods like bodies, or bodies like gods. It's the same tenderness, the same attention.
The same camera I think.
I realised also, looking at the photos I was taking when I was a kid, like a preteens kid, I feel like my style is the same you know. When I look at those old photos, I’m like, This is exactly what I would take now.
There's this shot of a flower, and this kind of framing or composition like a landscape when we went for holiday, it's the same. Like, What's going on? I didn't change at all.
You just got older.
I didn't improve at all either. I'm just like a seven-year-old kid.
Or maybe you were already old then. And that now you're just becoming yourself. You can make an exhibit with the older you and the younger you. Chang Ming by Chang Ming. Wait, what were you going to say?
Oh because your first question was about how you see me as someone who approaches things a bit more lightly, or like, not too serious .
No, it wasn't that... It wasn't about being not too serious, but it was the part where you could let go.
But for you, it's quite different, right?
But that's aIso what I admire. I remember this very, minute, random moment. I remember we were setting up the exhibition in Penang and you were basically adjusting all your photos on the wall. I was like, it looks pretty good or whatever, then you were like, No, I have to make it perfectly levelled and I have to make it exactly the same cm that I planned on this wall, and I was like, Oh. Love.
And then you said something like, No, but people who can will see it. I kind of remember that and I was like, I like this very deliberate -
Or maybe I'm the only one that sees it. Because whenever they would exhibit it, I would really notice that, Oh, they brought that picture down. I won't comment, but I would be like, why did they bring that picture down?
Yeah, it's very... It's like labor for me. First, I would have to earn it, and then I would have to be worth it. So I'm a bit tired also. And recently I've been longing for lightness, and also like a more holistic acceptance.
Not only when it's polished, or when it's good, I’m kind of longing for that. To be accepted. Even if it's not earned, or something like that. I'm trying to let go of that, I need to earn everything, I need to be worth it. Because maybe that's what's also making the interactions with other people too intense, because it's kind of this electrified space, instead of this, like, more gentle, Okay, let's just stand beside each other.
I like what you said about the foot in the door. Because sometimes, I think the way I ask, it's immediately too intense.
Yeah, it's too all-in. There's no gradual thing.
No. And I just think it's hard to open people up that way, because they're just too shocked to even answer. Sometimes it's also nicer to wait for thoughts, and see how things go.
Yeah, so, I'm just thinking about that. Because sometimes I'm also disappointed in myself when a conversation doesn't go right. I could sense that I wasn't able to get the person to open up, or to tell me what they really think. I would wonder if it's because I didn't ask the questions right. But then I appreciate what you say about sometimes, it is like, really timing and season and -
You can't force it.
Yeah, you can't force it. It's also the other person trusting you. I guess it's a dance too. To sometimes need to push, and then to sometimes have that lightness. And sometimes to have your own gallery.
Let me just look if I forgot to ask you anything. Though I think these are your Nope Fun questions also, Who's inspiring you right now? Or maybe, what's helping you right now?
What's helping me right now. I don't know, I didn't think about this, because it can feel like I'm just cruising by on autopilot and not even like -
It's okay. I can be happy with this as the foot in the door.
Music, music always helps a lot. So, this recently, this guy called Fred again..
So I'd just be listening and going for walks in the evening. And it's very nice. Yeah, that's the one thing that's been helping me, or inspiring me, going for walks.
Not this week but in the previous weeks there was this time when we were working from home. And I'm staying at home the whole day, right? So, I need to get up. So, I'll go for the evening walks and then just walk around my estate and listen to music and I feel like that really clears my head and I have a lot of ideas. I want to do this. I'm going to be making one zine every week. I'm going to do this project. Walking and listening to music has been very nice.
Yeah, it moves you, like you're moving literally, and then it kind of moves your mind. For me, being on a commute has the same effect. For example, when I'm on a long bus ride I feel like I can think a lot for some reason.
Yeah, so it's the same thing.
So, I don't know. I don't have any more questions. I feel like we've covered everything.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you for talking to me. I hope both of us get to start our own spaces. It would be really nice to offer space.