Being analog -Documentation in Film Photography-

Archiving, Life logging, Research Project

I am always fascinated by black and white photography. The simplicity of color yet provokes the imagination of what scenery looks and feels. I cannot deny my mother’s influence. In our living room, wherever we move to, she always hangs two black and white photographs on the wall. I am always fascinated by black and white photography. The simplicity of color yet provokes the imagination of what scenery looks and feels. I cannot deny my mother’s influence. In our living room, wherever we move to, she always hangs two black and white photographs on the wall. These photographs are taken by Ansel Adams. Very detailed, slow-shatter speed, high contrast photographs show the beauty of nature.

Oak Tree in Snow
Moonrise, Hernandez

In our world lives in, we prioritize speed. How quickly we can get to the goal, or achieve the results, find the fastest way to be successful… This semester, one of my favorite courses I am taking is the Darkroom photography course. The process of developing film photography in the darkroom teaches me how slow and delicate the process will assist in making the best result.

To see what you take in a film camera, start with developing the film roll to the negatives. Usually, the process takes 20-30 minutes. It required constant agitating with chemicals, almost like soothing the baby. The delicateness and slow porcess make a magic.
There is one time, when I tried to develop the negatives by class time, I rushed the process and destroyed them… If negatives don’t develop well, all data turned out all black and will not restore the image. Also, it is impossible to recreate the moment you snap a photo. It gives you not only the sallow but the sense of loss. Same as human memories. We forget and lose someone, something, or some events in our life if we do not imprint them in our brains or recall them. These memories will vanish in the dark.

Correctly developed negatives
My damaged negative… so sad

After finishing making negatives, it’s time to make the prints. In the darkroom, use an enlarger to light up one negative on a printing paper. It requires experimenting with the duration of exposure time to get the preferred tone of color. The longer exposure to the light, the darker the color gets. Similar to human skin.
After lighting up the negative on the paper, the print goes through 3 chemicals; developers, stop-bath, and fix. Sink it in each chemical tray for a couple of minutes with constant agitation. Finally, after all the processes, you are out of the darkroom and able to see the result.

Rehearsal process on film photography

The pictures above are the moments from my rehearsal. I documented when dancers talked about their stories about their memorable objects. Looking at the prints, no matter how much movement inside the frame, they exist at the exact moment when I snap the camera. It’s almost like the camera froze the time. The sense of time is totally different in film photography compared to photos on the digital camera or on the phone. I see this difference as the magic of being analog. This analog technology makes time tangible. It is interesting how humans create film photography to capture the fragment of time. We have a desire to conserve the time slipping through us. And for me, using analog technology such as film photography gives me an opportunity to re-think the definition of time and understand the meaning of documentation. Going through all the processes with many hours to print one frame of negative is more meaningful than an instant snap by the phone.

START -The last year of my MFA journey-

Archiving, Life logging

The last year of my MFA journey started this Monday. Time flies so fast. I cannot believe that it has been already 2 years studying at Ohio State University. 

What has changed? 

There has been a huge shift in my dance career. I injured my knee over the summer and I cannot fully capable of dancing by end of this year. The first thing I learned was how to rest by sensing and managing the pain. The second thing I re-learned was how to walk. Walking is like breathing in daily life so I have never paid attention to my bones and muscle that are utilized in walking. This injury made me feel like I was aging back to be a baby, which is very refreshing and I appreciate more about the human body more. It also drew my attention to somatic movement practice such as Bartenieff Fundamentals (which I am excited to teach this Fall 2022). The surgery was successful and after 9 weeks of surgery, I can walk without crutches and climb stairs without pain.

1st week after the surgery

Through this recovery journey, I had to ask myself, 

“Why do I want to keep dancing?

First of all, I came too far to stop my dance journey. If I may speak bluntly, I am very stubborn so I don’t want to quit. I came to the U.S., finished my B.F.A. in Dance Performance, and I am here in Columbus to wrap up my Master’s degree in DANCE! Dance has always been in my life and no matter what I decided to live a life with dance. Dance is my priority, love, passion, and something I see myself can contribute to the world. 

Dance is an underestimated subject if you are in school, underestimated career if you work as a dancer, and underestimated research topic if you are in academia. Not many people understand how much we dedicate our effort, labor, and time to use dance to challenge the world. 

Even though the dance population is huge, the people who use dance as a lifestyle are very few. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who dance with their life. In my last year as a dance student as OSU, I will prepare to go out to the world and make a community of dancers who create change beyond borders and cultures.