The Handmaid’s Tale (Stephanie Rushton)

While documenting FORMAT 2017, I met artist, Stephanie Rushton, who told me about “The Handmaid’s Tale”, one of the images in her “Archaea” series, on display in Pearson House, along with a live plant sculpture. By portraying plants as phantasmagorical, surrealist, anthropomorphic creatures, Rushton makes the point that they possess an intelligence which connects them to human beings. The “Archaea” series was a great example of how FORMAT artists expressed this biennial’s theme of “habitat.”


Daily Mind-ful 24 April 2017 (Why desperate single women are unbearable)

Slowly realising that I live in England – FINALLY – after one year; workout clothes shouldn’t be worn unless you’re actually working out; thank GOD I no longer have to care about the jewellery industry; any opinion on Tyrell’s versus Kettle Chips? I bought both brands as part of my junk food stash in order to conduct a taste test; everything in the countryside takes twice as long because of the obligatory chit chat factor; I generally equate overcommunication with low native intelligence; ditto for repeating one’s self: I deplore it; one of the main reasons I can’t stand hanging out with single women desperate for a boyfriend is because all they do is talk about the same thing, over and over again, violating the cardinal rule I just stated; I love vlogging because it enables me to bitch about things in the abstract without pointing the finger at a particular individual; if you’re one of my female friends who recognises yourself in my comments, now you know why I haven’t talked to you very much in the past few years; my least favourite conversation with a single woman is, “Do you think he really likes me?”; amazing layout on the home page of Simon Aeppli. Then again, maybe it was the startling image! My favorite go-to resource for social media news, Tatiana Platt, shared a great post about the top ten mistakes on Instagram; and I’m definitely guilty of #10 because my main concern is thoroughly updating and optimising my own website.

Daily Mind-ful 23 April 2017 (Manure)

[SORRY: Partial repeat of the end of previous post re: hamburger complaint] Believe it or not, I don’t know how to cook any Asian food. I only know how to cook Western food; planning the menu for my cousins’ visit; I spent the entire morning outside mostly shoveling manure; it is possible to fall sick from handling compost and manure. But no N95 needed because this was aged, vintage manure; my fears of septicemia allayed, I cooked without first changing my clothes. WILL I SURVIVE?; PHEW! So glad I didn’t go to the Monte Carlo Open this year; the dry climate adds 5 years to my age at least but British people always underestimate the age of Asian people, so net-net, the effect is probably ZERO; check out the Brill cream helmet of Trump’s sons; new bucket list item: a live performance of the 1913 version of the Rite of Spring ballet.

Daily Mind-ful 22 April 2017 (Country Fair)

Praise God: The EE SIM for our home broadband finally arrived; the video camera is awesome – less so, the 179 new clips I filmed at FORMAT which I now need to cobble into a film. Uh oh; today, John and I are going to the East Anglian Game & Country Fair, which is about all things related to country living (except gardening), and takes place at Euston Hall in Thetford, the home of the Duchess of Thetford; you can’t attend an event like this without dressing in green, dark hunter green, from head to toe — of course. And since I’ll be the only Chinese person there, I really HAVE to wear green – to camouflage myself; battery-operated pigeon decoys; shooting (lots); fudge; giant Indian cauldrons called kadais which John swoons over (and which we end up buying, ultimately); it’s all new to me and I love learning the ins and outs of a new subculture; I fall in love with a hunting brand named Fortis clothing because of its urban styling which wouldn’t be out of place in Harajuku even; I see a clay pigeon shooter for the first time in my life; pies, pies, pies; garlic from the Isle of Wight; clay pigeon shooting; horseshoe making; alpacas make the quietest bleating sound, entirely disproportionate to their large bodies; the people watching at the fair is sans pareil, encompassing everything from urban hipsters, to farmers, to in-bred white trash; I email a complaint to the fair about one of the food suppliers, Farm to Fork, because of the disgusting, denatured, processed quality of the hamburger they sold me; you have to complain in life, not just take it lying down; otherwise, all that spleen, anger and resentment just ruins your day — and for what? It’s better to do something — at the very least — to save other unwitting consumers from a similar bad experience.

Daily Mind-ful 21 April 2017 (FORMAT 2017)

[APOLOGIES but the first story in this clip appeared in yesterday’s diary post.] You can watch my full rant about how Mark Zuckerberg needs to grow some balls and show more leadership here; first stop on my tour of FORMAT 2017 is the University of Derby on Markeaton Street, located across the street from a trailer park; you can actually order instant coffee at the cafe; the FORMAT exhibition spans 15 venues across the city of Derby so that residents, students and everyone in Derby is exposed to the art; bleak images of the former Yugoslavia by Borko Vukosav; gorgeous, if slightly obvious, images of glaciers juxtaposed against abandoned eskimo dwellings by Magda Biernat; extremely disturbing autoradiographic images by Masamichi Kagaya document the radiation still present in natural and man-made objects in the environs of the Fukushima nuclear plant; FORMAT is astounding for its curatorial choices and quality of writing; Derby is quaint and idyllic to boot; my iphone selfie lens has a crack across the protector explaining why I haven’t been and can’t be the talking head in my own vlogs lately; I arrive at Pickford House, the 250-year old former residence of Georgian architect, Joseph Pickford; Shivani Gupta’s portraits of Ladakh people printed on fabric are gorgeous and folkloric; but I’ve spent too long savoring the art at the first two venues, meaning that I’m running out of time to see the rest of the venues in FORMAT today; St. Werburgh’s Chapel houses two artworks by Tim Simmons and Simon Aeppli, captured in a video on my Instagram feed; at the Derby Museum, there’s an exhibition dedicated to the contents of one of the world’s oldest photography studio, W.W. Winters of Derby; one of FORMAT’s strong suits is the very disparate aesthetic, historical and thematic range of images on display; I check out FORMAT’s River Lights venue so that I can try out the Virtual Reality headsets from Oculus; I didn’t video any part of my visit to the Dubrik recording studio because it’s right next to a halfway house (and lots of dubious characters loitering loudly on the street); I fall in love with one of the FORMAT venues: the Small Print Company and end up shooting the owner of that business instead of the photography — enough to make a short film actually; the penultimate venue of the day is the semi-derelict Pearson House, a mystical,
overgrown former school housing the artworks of about 10 photographers; Poulomi Basu’s video and virtual reality installation about Western Nepalese women ostracized under Hindu tradition for undergoing menstruation for the first time is arresting and memorable; my final stop is on Cathedral Green, to see FORMAT’S iteration of the global, travelling photography project, Flaneur; after a jam-packed day at FORMAT, I have to drive home — starving and thirsty; the real, hard work begins after I download all the clips from my camera; no Prets in Derby (but it’s a good thing); HOME – at last — after the LOOONGEST day!

Daily Mind-ful 20 April 2017 (Facebook)

Still learning to use the video camera before pushing off to Derby for FORMAT 2017; British traffic sucks; Wind farm; Derby is cute and historic; the founder of FORMAT, Louise, not only established the art and film center, QUAD, in Derby. But the UK’s biggest photography festival, FORMAT; clearly, I’ve been slacking and doing nothing these last ten years; when we met in Hong Kong, I had no idea about the magnitude of what she’s built; I assume Derby is safe because there’s no one on the street at night (????); I can’t believe Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s development agenda is so vacuous. Based on the intentions he stated during the recent F8 developer conference, his top technological and commercial priorities boil down to adding idiotic fripperies borrowed from Snapchat and Pokemon Go. The fact that a platform as powerful as Facebook needs to borrow and copy rather than pioneering its own ground-breaking initiatives based on its founder’s deepest ethical and entrepreneurial convictions is disturbing and disappointing enough. But it’s even worse that his top priorities are so devoid of social, political, environmental, cultural value; for example, he should really be implementing innovative, badly needed functionality which automatically identifies and eliminates fake news and enables greater participation in the political process rather than spending tens of millions developing three dimensional smiley face stickers; imagine other multi-billion dollar companies like Unilever, Lockheed Martin or General Electric pursuing similarly mindless agendas: it would be entirely unacceptable to shareholders and the general public. That’s the problem with a thirty-something year old developer (computer science engineer) without any sociopolitical consciousness let alone conscience wielding enormous power. It’s just as worrying to think that this is the sort of person spearheading crucial technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg needs a conscience internship with Bill Gates!; it pissed me off so badly, I taped a full vlog post on the topic.

Daily Mind-ful 19 April 2017

Personal infrastructure milestones (intended, anyway): broadband installation TODAY plus, finally, I’m going to set up a UK bank account (after an entire year); I decide to attend FORMAT 2017, the UK’s biggest photo fair founded by my friend, TOMORROW because I need to make a short film about the festival for the website of my new business; before then, I need to learn how to use my new video camera; birds = dinosaurs;
about to replant our kitchen garden (from which, going forward, we will obtain all our vegetables for home consumption) ; husband continues to deny that he’s camp; milk in salad dressing. REALLY?; In order to conduct, you have to be able to master seven clefs and be able to transpose them on the fly. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!; Denise asserts that there is an unmistakable resemblance between Leonard Bernstein and John; Therefore, we’re going to make a film about it; Jaap van Zweden, the conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, will assume the post of conducting the New York Philharmonic next year. LORD, I’m behind on culture news!; tonight’s cocktail is called “Between the Sheets”; Denise makes me watch the 1913 version of the Rite of Spring by Diaghilev. It’s unbelievably avant-garde and I can’t believe that Nijinsky and Diaghilev tried this IN 1913! No wonder there were riots; the camp accent and urban vernacular of artist, Jordan Wolfson, triggers an instant prejudice against him (at least for me).

Daily Mind-ful 18 April 2017

I woke up feeling strung out by a lot of what I can only term “urban” concerns, career,
money, etc; so I stated my goals out loud today (to make an honest woman out of myself) and made my friend Denise do the same; you know you’re old when you remind your good friends of their mom; took Denise to Wyken Hall/Wyken Vineyard so she could experience an idyllic English garden; if only I could interview people in my kitchen…; I discovered that photos taken with the “LIVE” setting on the iPhone camera are actually video snippets which play when the thumbnail image is pressed on the iPhone camera roll; the highlight of the day is definitely John pretending to conduct Mozart; for the record, I’m neither a fan of Roger Federer or Mozart,
believe it or not.

Daily Mind-ful 17 April 2017

No more typeface on top of my IG stories because it’s cluttering and distracting; tooling around the countryside with my friend, Denise; I may be too spastic to shoot a gun; learning to play the piano may be a better idea and more calming for frantic me; I’m funny because I have no awareness of how I am — and I’m damn loud; if you visit me, you’ll be pressed into gardening duty; I’m a dog owner who doesn’t like to touch her dogs — kind of like a Chinese parent who loves their kids but never hugs them; I cook my first roast beef ever.

Daily Mind-ful 16 April 2017

It’s the last 1-2% of best effort and attention to detail which engenders true loyalty when you’re building a business or brand. If a handful of people notice, it’s worth it; Now, after many years,
I reject the 80/20 rule; if you’re an artist, why would you ever live in the US any more, I asked Denise,
my friend, the music composer; besides the defunding of the NEA, Americans don’t fundamentally support the idea of building cultural patrimony, which makes it an unsympathetic home for artists, IMO; why is education necessary for good taste? And, if it is, what kind of education is required? I ask Denise why I should use Spotify; I don’t listen to music because I have no reliable means of discovering new high quality music; NO, actually, the real challenge is allocating sufficient time for music discovery; and that’s because I like music too much and can’t do anything else when listening to it; so, paradoxically, I don’t listen to any music at all; Denise reminds me that nothing can actually fill that (music) gap; because music can be accessed and appreciated without any prior knowledge or, as I put it, music can fill you, instantly; for that reason, I don’t like vocal music; in fact, it was Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy who was able to explain in words my dislike of vocal music.
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