A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. _ Diane Arbus
A while ago, I did an exclusive interview with Korean Photography Magazine Photo Plus (http://www.iphotoplus.co.kr/) about my recent personal photography project “The Frail Second “.It’s printed in Korean language. So, today I got some time to upload the original conversation in English with Editor Julia Kim from Photo +.
Can you explain the moment and the reason you started to work “The frail second”? What’s that meaning?
- Since earlier this year, I have started taking up hiking and going on trips frequently just for personal escape from all those chaos and noise of the city. And, I became more attached to wide blue ocean and found myself visiting to beaches all summer long. One day, I was sitting on the beach while looking at the people playing around with the water, there was this man standing, gazing towards the ocean effortlessly, whose vague reflection in the wet sand was repeatedly being washed out with the tides coming up and down. I grabbed my camera and took the first picture of “The Frail Second” that inspired me to continue the whole series.
The thought process that initiated the project is as stated in my artist statement below.
“One day, I set out to find myself.
I have stripped out all the layers and walls I have built my existence up.
There I found this
” the complete nothingness.”
-so huge and overwhelming that suddenly I felt like I am going to collapse in any moment and never I will find myself again.
In the memory of that split moment , I created this project “The Frail Second”.
-Htet T San June, 2013
What is your message that express through your works?
-The Frail Second is more about connecting human emotions rather than giving message. Each and every picture of the project depicts of a state of mind and/or a stage of life that is seeking out to be connected.
I really wonder how make your works. How the person’s shadow lies in water? And where do you get inspiration to do your work?
-I have acknowledged the fact that throughout the art history, the use of liquid reflection has been a cliché concept. But, I would like to make something more different. Since my concept is based on uncertainty and vulnerability, I did not want any solid organic forms in it. So, I decided to make two worlds of reflections that are reflecting each other, merging the real life candid subjects with the dreamy atmosphere. Maybe, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Dream within A Dream” is my unconscious inspiration.
Like the poem said,
“ Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream? “
I feel fantasy through your work. I would like to know about the process of working. Could you tell me about the process?
- All the reflections in this project are candid subjects. That means I didn’t tell them to pose for me for my photographs. I focused on shooting interesting figures in the wet sand and the rest is done in post-production with multiple layers.
What do you think are the most attractive things about photography?
- To me, photography is a personal sentimental journey. It’s the simplest tool to capture one’s own vision, thoughts, imagination, moments of life, dreams, fear and maybe our own mistakes. I discovered photography in 2007 and through my ups and downs, it has been the soul mate of my life – and the back door to escape.
I think there is a strong relationship between shadow and water. I get the feeling that you’re much closer to the disappearance of something.
- I have always been fascinated by the nature of water- the formless, shapeless, softest substance of the world that can penetrate the most solid hardest substances.- the source of all organic life forms as well as the monster that holds the power to take all down. Are we human beings strong enough to stand still or are we just mere frail shadows that are easily to be swiped away, effortlessly in a split second?
Why do you feel self-destruction or collapse in yourself? How do you think about these feelings?
-That’s a tough question. How do I feel self-destruction or collapse in myself? I think we all are building and destructing ourselves at the same time. When we acquire something, we lose something on the other hand. It’s like we are playing give and take game with nature’s hands. When you lose something, you get hurt. Sometimes, it’s very painful that you unconsciously build walls around yourself in order not to get hurt again or make you feel stronger – the imaginary walls of illusion that you think will protect yourself which can be collapsed in any moment even with just a gust of wind, a sudden fall, or a car crash. Am I gaining more or losing much? I am not sure. But, I have been collapsing and rebuilding myself all my life.
What’s your interest you have recently and could you tell us a hint about next project?
-Music is the ultimate source of my inspiration. Recently, I have been listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s new album “Disappearance” and I have been feeling a lot connected to “The Frail Second” project. Hints about my next projects? There is more than one personal project that I have been working on at the moment. One is called Dreams & Memories which focuses on the translation of personal dreamscapes along with combination of life memoirs-another borderline between dream and reality. I am also working on a conceptual still life project. About the rest, let me still hold them as secret!
The printed version can be found at Photo + DECEMBER 2013 VOL.44 Issue.
The complete Frail Second project can be found on my website here.
Have a nice evening everyone!
Htet T San
“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.”
Charles Bukowski – Factotum
“Between subjective and objective there is no vital difference. Everything is illusive and more or less transparent. All phenomena, including man and his thoughts about himself, are nothing more than a movable, changeable alphabet. There are no solid facts to get hold of.”
A while ago, Museum of the City of New York was accepting entries for Photographs taken from days of Sandy Hurricane in 2012. So, I submitted some photographs I took from my room amid the storm which I titled as “Sandy through my windows“. With my luck, one of my photographs was chosen for the museum’s SlideShow Exhibition: Rising Waters 2.0: More Photographs of Sandy, will be on view starting Thursday, December 26, and will now be extended through Sunday, January 5.
Here are my photographs from the series, “Sandy through my Windows”.
Htet T San