Monthly Archives: March 2011

a country a year

As we sat down for breakfast, he looked over at me with a question, “Shall we make it a goal to travel to one new country per year?” This was a goal I could live with. The past years have taken us to new and familiar parts of the world. In 2007, I took him to the US for the first time after I had made my first visit to Poland. In 2008, we traveled throughout Switzerland. He had been before, but it was my first time. We saw Geneva, Interlaken, Zurich, Neuchatel, Solothurn, and a dozen villages in between.

The summertime took us to Luxembourg (new) and next-door Belgium (familiar). Throughout 2009, we explored his homeland: Berlin (natürlich), Munich, Cologne, Potsdam, and Dresden. Two more trips to the US to see Oregon and Washington. He had his first American Christmas in 2010, a year that took me for the first time to South Africa, then Portugal.

Making a goal out of this is not a bad idea. “Does a country count as new if only one of us has been?” He has explored the  Scandinavian countries, I have covered Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Cambodia. “Yes.” This summer will take us to Turkey. Next year, hopefully to Indonesia. “It’s a deal.”

Images of Interlaken, Switzerland.

a tree cocooned

Beautiful photo, incredible after effect of the flooding in Pakistan. Image by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development via unicornology)

An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters.

Because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water has taken so long to recede, many trees have become cocooned in spiders webs. People in this part of Sindh have never seen this phenonemon before – but they also report that there are now less mosquitos than they would expect, given the amoungt of stagnant, standing water that is around.

It is thought that the mosquitos are getting caught in the spiders web thus reducing the risk of malaria, which would be one blessing for the people of Sindh, facing so many other hardships after the floods.

Weekend Links #22

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed last week:
1. Spending a day in the Hague for the Movies that Matter film festival, running until 30 March
2. Interviewing interesting people, like Ed Kashi, Andrew DeVigal, Nanako Koyama, and more
3. Spotting the photography by Ye Rin Mok (pictured above, via thank you, okay)
4. Hearing about Velour, a clothing brand started in Göteborg, Sweden that now has a store in De Negen Straatjes (via GYPROT)
5. Spotting a rare occasion when my two homes (Amsterdam + Portland) come together in the form of Olivia Bee‘s photography being part of a publication by Foam, the photography museum in Amsterdam (pictured below)

from afar

Steps across the continent. A balcony in Rome, vino and veritas. Murakami in Budapest, when I was on my Nietzsche kick and you insisted on singing Ella Fitzgerald through the night. Surviving a phone booth battle in Bratislava, then the nighttime visitors from Australia. A doorway in London, covered in mayonnaise. Old bookshops and stale cigarettes. Then Amsterdam. Poetry and farewells.

A ‘hello’ from afar, dear friend. A digital kiss, or three. Dutch style.
Left cheek, right cheek, left.

Interview with Nanako Koyama: every morning

I love the quiet routine of the morning time. Discovering Japanese photographer Nanako Koyama and her project Every Morning (via oh, hello there), I was curious to know more about her visual exploration into people and their mornings. Here, a few questions I posed to Nanako:

Why did you choose to explore the connection between people and mornings?
Nanako Koyama: Well, I grew an interest in exploring that which makes someone an individual―like the series ‘5 Stories About Rooms’―this was about exploring peoples’ individualities and idiosyncrasies as well, in a way. Anyway, I was thinking that the moments before breakfast illuminate a person’s real personality, or parts of it. When eating breakfast, one’s brain finally becomes activated. To put it the other way around, before eating breakfast your brain is still kind of asleep and it feels like this is the only waking moment when you’re not really in control of yourself. I just thought this “being yourself” in the morning would be interesting to explore. This is why I chose breakfast as my subject.

I wrote a postscript in Japanese but I’m still working on an English version. I’ll post it as soon as possible too.

How do you approach the people in your photography? Do you know them personally or do you work with people unknown?
Nanako Koyama: For this series I asked my friends if they would let me take their photos. Most of the time I take photos of people I know. I like to take photos after I’ve thought hard about the concept and composition. I do sometimes take photos of strangers. Even though I like to think about concepts or composition though, I mostly take ‘snap shot’ style photographs.

What was something you learned about people during this project?
Nanako Koyama: At first I thought that as the country changes, the culture and people would change along with it to some degree. Because of this I was thinking about exploring a photo series about the differences between people. When I was actually taking photos though, I realized that the differences between countries are very confused and whilst different there were a lot of cultural similarities between the countries, especially in regards to breakfast time. Even now, with national boundaries swept away, these people―my friends―have their own cultural differences and these helped form their individualities. This is what I learned from this series.

Are you still working on the project?
Nanako Koyama: I’m currently working as a studio assistant at the moment and so unfortunately I have little time to travel, however I would like to visit America or some other places where I’ve never been before in the future with this project in mind. So, yes, I can say I’m still working on it.

All photos used with permission from the photographer.

Weekend Links #21

Well, it’s Thursday, not quite the weekend anymore, but I wanted to send out the weekend links I put together for my faithful readers. New and exciting projects at work have scrambled my familiar schedule and I’m still figuring out how to stay on top of my personal projects. Hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are also enjoying the first signs of spring!

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed last week:
1. Listening to an evening of The Decemberists at Paradiso. Just the bit of Pacific NW that I needed (pictured above via)
2. Stretching my writing muscles in a weekend workshop
3. Watching La Flâneur, a time-lapse video by Luke Shepard made up of 2000 photos of Paris
4. Reading the article The power of lonely (via something changed)
5. Reading The Elements of Content Strategy from A Book Apart. Nerdy work stuff that I can’t wait to dive into
6. Receiving a note from a friend that reminded me of the importance of public broadcasting. To support NPR and PBS, sign this petition
7. Viewing amazing productions during a new multimedia contest (Blanco by Stefano De Luigi pictured below)

차 : cha : tea : Tee

Thinking about Korean tea lately. Remembering all the time I spent in the teahouses in Insadong – a favorite neighborhood in Seoul – on the weekends, lounging over a cup of tea and the Korean alphabet. My three favorites were quince, jujube, and plum tea. Always served in a beautiful, earthy cup with a small wooden spoon.

Although I traveled around much of the country, I never made it to famous green tea fields. However, I did learn how to perform a Korean tea ceremony, an elaborate ritual with specific equipment and certain gestures and moments for each part of the performance. The ritual of drinking tea was always best when served with delicate rice cakes, pictured below.

(image above via, image below via, last image via)