Name of Artist Educator: Enoch Cheung
Excercise Category: Class Prelude, Photographer's eye
What evokes your memories of a place?
Concept / Inspiration:
What evokes your memories of a place? Is it something you see, hear, smell or taste that brings your memories back? It might be difficult to give a full account of the place we grew up in, but what is that “familiar feeling” we often have about the past? The beautiful colour combination of the wall tiles in the sugar cane juice shop, the colour tones of the cha chaan teng in neighborhood, and the softness of the safety mats in a nearby playground… Students will have a chance to walk through the community and recall memories through photograpgy.
- To develop students’ sense of colours, patterns and textures
- To sharpen their perception on their environment and develop their photographic intuition
- To let them observe a place more closely and capture things that are worth recalling
Materials / Equipment:
A local neighbourhood near to the school
(This particular session was carried out in Kowloon City)
This workshop is divided into two parts:
Part one | In search of colours, patterns and textures
- Students are divided into three groups according to their school levels. Each group is assigned a task taking place in two streets in Kowloon City. The Secondary Two and Three students have to look for colours that impress them and take photos, but no other elements are allowed in their images. For example, if they spot a special red tone on the street, they have to focus on that red and avoid any distracting details in their photos. “Colours and patterns” is the task for Secondary Four students, while that for Secondary Five students is the most challenging – they have to compose images with three elements, namely colours, patterns and textures.
- With the help of a map, students wander in two streets in Kowloon City to look for suitable photo subjects within one hour. During the exercise, they are not allowed to take photos of any signs or characters, and the photo motifs have to mean something to them.
- After one hour, the instructor and students get back together to share what they have captured in their camera.
Notice: “Textures” are often related to the “context” of a situation. For example, when you see a metal gate or floor tiles of a particular texture, you will associate them with the 1960s; when you see the yellow, textured ground surface on the street, you know it is a tactile paving for the visually impaired.
Part two | Track it down
- Form groups of two. Pick three photos from your own collection and exchange your camera with your partner.
- Then, each student tries to recognise certain hints in those photos, go to that place where the photos were taken and take a new photo at each spot. The time limit of this part is also one hour.
- Apart from trying to detect possible locations on the streets, students will also start searching their memories of the previous hour or even the previous months and years in their life. They will ask themselves: where did I see this colour, pattern and texture before?
The most difficult part of this exercise is that no signs or characters are allowed in the photos, only the more abstract visual elements like colours, patterns and textures. However, as students participating in this session share the same living environment and education background in Kowloon City, they are supposed to have a similar feeling towards that quarter and be able to find the photo locations of their fellow students. As an example, Korean pop stars and 80s fashion are hugely popular these days, so teenagers should have more or less the same ideas about the looks of Korean girls and the key elements of the revival fashion trend. We can also regard the unique colour combo of the good old sugar cane juice shop as our collective memory.
Students tended to find this exercise quite challenging, but they still managed to find some of the photo locations visited by their partners.
This workshop is inspired by Walls Paper and other works of American artist Gordon Matta-Clark: