Pulled the Old Drawer Open

It was during Hou’s brief stay at my place in Hualien three years ago. One afternoon, while chatting casually at home, we randomly explored a massive drawer of the wardrobe. We discovered some dusty, old photographs, which the development process was done by hand. Those photographs brought us back to the good old times: how I took care of the color printing machine as an assistant at school's darkroom in 1997, how I accidentally spilled developer all over my body, etc. Unexpectedly, Hou looked at those images that were “eliminated” by me back then, and said: “You should use them as your new exhibition project.”
From that day on, we began the three-year-work-selecting process. Why did it take so long? Because the curator specifically asked to browse through every image on the drive as well as all the negatives outside the disk. The work required patience and tested the mutual trust between us. While organizing images, life had gone through many ups and downs. Browsing through those images I had taken, the older version of me now could still be in the moments of pressing that shutter button twenty-something years ago. Purposeless photographs taken randomly seem to have new visual meanings through a fresh perspective of retrospection.
“Why is your work out of focus,” my instructor from the graduate school in the U.S. during a critique session asked me. “You must get at least an object or area in focus while shooting.” Despite being criticized, I couldn’t help but shoot more blurry, shaky photos. The unintentional blurry images back then and those intentional shaky images now show that what the teacher said isn’t always right, and the “eliminated” images are not necessarily worthless.
Things do not suddenly become clear as we age, that’s the complexity and enchantment of life. The initial confusion has dissolved while the new ones still lie ahead, allowing us to continue getting lost and finding our way.

拉開舊抽屜 尋找新意義
羅惠瑜 2024/02/04

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