12" x 18" edition of 3, unframed $150
crystal gaze, 2017, singapore
I had to comb through hundreds of negatives all filled within shoeboxes to figure out what I thought was my best work. Sometimes you don’t really know why you like an image besides that it looks good. A moment caught by sleight of hand.
2017 was the year that I started to set my mind to converging on details of conceptual significance in the world so that whatever was on the film was more than just a pretty photo. It’s really hard to reconcile the act of capturing the moment while also thinking about what the image means at the same time. I still find myself caught up on these ideals.
In the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, this is one of the sights I clearly remember. The crystals glowed with a cast that seemed otherworldly. There were plenty of ornate statues I took glances at, though this stuck out to me. Like stars orbiting some great celestial body. I thought materialism was one of the things the religion was ardently against. So why is there such an intricate display of jewels in a temple? Historically I knew that Buddhist monks and temple donations were a source of corruption. That goes with any religion with tenets that are supposed to bring us closer to whatever God to venerate. And with religion comes symbolism. The stereotype of the crystal ball is that it’s a way for psychic quacks to interpret the future and make a quick buck. But I learned that in Buddhist terms, the jewel is representative of enlightenment; the striving to become godlike. It just paints the picture perfectly that our world is much more than the black and white that the media and powers that be like to depict—for something so precious as crystals can mean both materialism and the antithesis of it.
I learned that for artists—at least for photographers—that even if there’s something you or the audience considers to be your magnum opus, there’s always a lingering impulse for a repeat occurrence in the enlightenment or actualization of a work beyond yourself. It’s meditative.