Friday, September 19, 2014


Another old building sold. We walked through the gates and explored the grounds. Excitedly ooo-ing and ah-ing at switches and learning wiring in the 70s. Sadly acknowledging that all these forgotten beauties will be razed for another hi rise in Kuala Lumpur city. We stared at the spreading banyan tree which the owner left to grow. So much beauty gently rising with passing years.Snappily run down by the minute call of modernism.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Living in Happy Mansion and spacing home

I am grateful for the little incidences living in the entire space in Happy Mansion that makes beautiful stories. 
- The clicking of mahjong every Friday on the 3rd floor and the old uncles with their leash little Paris Hilton dogs which is such a contrast from the expected. One of the little furry chin hua hua is name "Mah Lau Quai" (Monkey Ghost).
- There is a beautiful lady whom always shout. We hardly chat when I first moved in. I wasn't happy and so was she. She lives under the stairwell with her teenage son and 4 year old child. She is a lot happier now cause she is working in the Thai restaurant and has a whole kitchen crew taking turns playing with her son. While I play with the child's kitten when I see it coming back from work. In the mornings heading to work I have 2 other kittens in the uncle and aunty's office to say good morning to.
- As I climb up the steps with a container of lunch from the economy rice shop just a minute walk away, I see aunty chasing uncle laughing. I thought to myself "so cute, old d can playing catching some more"....turns out they were chasing the kitten. I still have the scene of aunty chasing uncle entrenched in my memory. It was a beautiful sunny day and they both have smiles that reminded me of children.
3. The room I rent comes with a balcony by the living room. The previous tenant apparently use to have barbeque sessions with a makeshift grill and planted jasmine and another white sweet smelling plant which the tenant left. I love these plants that are remnants of happiness and inspired me to compost and grow seedlings (so far Indian borage, ulam rajah, groundnuts (with harvest) and little hill rice seedlings which didn't make it through the hacking in the garden outside the house.
This balcony has host many solidarity moments to hear ones banter in the mind, as well as many meetings of different minds.Thanks for the lively balcony moments everyone.

1.The internet is a bulging load of information, I am grateful for online learning, the ease of communication and search engines. While I have sweet memories of pre-Internet era of writing letters and reading in libraries, I must say that having information at the finger tips far outweigh the business of being online. I just have to try very hard to have a Internet "blackout".
2. I am grateful for facebook even with the ethical issues surrounding facebook, Because of facebook I am aware of Bersih and Lawyers for Liberty which gave me the guts to attend the Bersih 2.0 rally. Also the excitement and frustration mounting, looking at facebook pictures of the first Bersih rally. I was in the States then.
3. I am grateful for the Bersih movement. I grew up with my dad always saying that we have relatives in Singapore and Australia, don't worry. Living in Malaysia and feeling frustrated with all the coffee talk about how corrupted politicians and businessmen are always ends with "Ape boleh buat" quipped by my cynical follow on of "Malaysia boleh mah" Bersih cleaned up the hopeless oppression of status quo and fear of being arrested.

1. Techie gratefulness - I am grateful for inheriting this iPhone which means having a camera, voice recorder,and access to wifi on hand. The calender gets me organize so I can keep track of dates. The alarm is a bonus when I need a snooze.
2. Living gratefulness - There are no natural disasters and a range of culinary delights that could keep me entertain forever in Malaysia.Because I am so grateful for living on land that is abundant, I will always go to protest and rally against corruption, injustice and powers that rape the land. The current political landscape needs to change for the better.
3. Family - I am grateful to be born in a family where my dad stayed home to look after us and my mother is the breadwinner. Hence shaping me to be an individual that is aware that both men and women face discrimination and all thing unjust. Easier if we see everyone as living brings..

Monday, September 08, 2014

Mt.Rokko Portfolio Review Feedback – Lim Paik Yin

Published on blog on photography

Photo by Naohiko Tokuhira

A plethora of thoughts on one’s work could cause a mild concussion. Left unresolved, gives way to a splitting headache. Here is a little guide to ease the pangs of insecurities and host of questions before a portfolio review.

What is a portfolio review ?

One of the reasons of showing your work in prints is to give an overview of your entire project to the reviewers. At best you could get a different perspective of your work. Having the flexibility of loose prints on hand allows the reviewers to edit the work. Think about it this way, a portfolio review can be a space to further push the photography series to another level or it could be a mini interview for your work to get published or shown in a public arena.

Printing the digital images

The first time I held the prints from my Fujifilm 5100 in 2011, excitement weld up despite having seen the images on screen numerous times. There was no thought about paper texture nor colour calibration. Looking back it was a process that I had to go through. So the lessons that I learnt, it always pay to have the monitor calibrated to my regular printer.  After all the time spent editing on screen, it’d be a shame to have prints that is subpar.


Look into the crystal ball and imagine where your work is going to be shown. Once there is a clear idea of where your work would be shown, find out about the reviewers and think if your work would be beneficial from their perspective. A reviewer who comes from a gallery or art magazine views your work differently from a reviewer from a journalistic or documentary background. With multiple lens viewing your work, there is bound to be divergent viewpoints.

Being Reviewed

I’ve always found it easier to communicate through writing or photographs instead of talking about it. Somehow I get tense and stiff especially when there are a barrage of questions or suggestions. I learnt the hard way that it is important to be able to speak about the project as not all reviewers would read the written statement and sometimes what can seem to be a grilling session with reviewers is a process to delve deeper into the subject of the project. So to start with, I introduce myself, pass calling cards and give a short summary of the project that I am showing. In general about 2 or 3 lines. Nerves got to me on my first review and thankfully I wrote short notes with main points on each project. The notes was a good reminder on the points I wanted to highlight during the review especially since 20 minutes is all the time we have.

The 6 reviewers in alphabetical order are Didier Brousse, Yosuke Fujiki, Natalie Matutschovsky, Taj Forer, Takeki Sugiyama and Yumi Goto.

Works reviewed

I brought 2 working series with me to be reviewed, both still work in progress. The first set of photos were from work done at the Exposure+ Mentorship programme in early 2013. The documentary set is called Pockets of Verdure which explored the interactions of the residents of Klang Valley through their gardens in public spaces. Composition of the work was distinctly flat.

The second set of photographs is a set of self portraits exploring what it is to be a woman in relation to my own body and experience living in Malaysia.

Summary of review sessions

Pockets of Verdure – Composition can be worked on. Some reviewers appreciate the flat perspective and some do not. The idea of the work is interesting but visually it can be improved upon.

Self Portrait – Colours are nice but too few images to have a clear idea of what the project is about.  Lots of questions were asked ranging from the size the pictures to feelings about the projects. Since it is from the viewpoint of my ideas of what being a woman is about from the perspective of being a Malaysian, the work can be viewed differently in a different cultures. There were some suggestions on content and I found it helpful to move forward with the project.

Language – As the reviewers are from all over the world, English is not always the reviewer’s first language. There were instances where language was a barrier and some communication was lost in translation. Keep in mind to keep it simple in future.