Getting Lost | Wing Leung

How I managed to nearly get bitten by a bush snake, hiked 14km with Elijah carrying a pelican case full of 4x5 gear with 300ml of water. Only to be saved by an Australian version of Keanu Reeves having his lunch. 

Elijah wanders in the plain with the city in the distance. Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

Elijah wanders in the plain with the city in the distance. Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

To really captivate how we got ourselves in the whole situation, I will have to partly blame my poor memory of the travel distance of this beautiful salt marsh just outskirt of town. We parked near a beach and started walking around 8 am in the morning.  There is a special character about this salt plain, it has a dynamic feeling of a deserted place, but it also has the full view of the city at the same time. The plain also doubles as an illegal junkyard where people sink cars with unknown background stories in the soggy mud during the wet season. Being a student, my choice to carry anything and everything is a backpack. However, on the day Elijah rocked up with a Pelican case for his 4x5 gear. At the time it didn’t seem like such a bad idea since you never want to take any chances with your gear. 

I don’t own a scanner that can scan negatives. As a result, all my black and white work is printed in the darkroom. A contact sheet from the Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

I don’t own a scanner that can scan negatives. As a result, all my black and white work is printed in the darkroom. A contact sheet from the Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

As it turns out, it was a bad idea. On the day I had severely underestimated the distance from where we parked the car to the plains. The hike was already off to an atrocious start, the sun has fully risen, and the North Queensland heat was slowly creeping upon us. Since this story takes place in Australia, I am glad to inform you I nearly got bitten by a bush snake by almost stamping on it, but Elijah gave me a heads up like any good bloke.  

The rest of the hike was like those moments in life where you can live with it but will preferably never live through it again nor think about it again. We started taking turns on carrying the Pelican Case since it was becoming quite the burden to carry for one person after the first hour and a half. When our morale truly hit the rock bottom around 11:30, we reached the gate of the salt plains. Well, it turns out you can drive there to a carpark near the gate as informed by Elijah upon arrival. I genuinely thought to reach those gates were an achievement, but it was really a slap in the face when realistically we have been bamboozled.

Textures of the ground beneath our feet. Kodak XX-5222, Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Textures of the ground beneath our feet. Kodak XX-5222, Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Regardless, we reached our destinated in the least effective way possible by walking. The hype and excitement that we felt in the morning for this photo adventure had already faded away so far in our memory that it no longer affiliated with our current mood. We got set up, started the shoot, and here are some of the photographs of the day:

Ute in the frozen mud. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Ute in the frozen mud. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Last time I was here, this car was still standing, and the seats were still holding up. I came back after 4 years and this is what’s left. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Last time I was here, this car was still standing, and the seats were still holding up. I came back after 4 years and this is what’s left. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Elijah loading the holder into the camera for the shot below. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon F w/ 105mm f2.5 non-ai.

Elijah loading the holder into the camera for the shot below. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon F w/ 105mm f2.5 non-ai.

Fujifilm Acros 100, Graflex speed graphic w/ 180mm f5.6. (Elijah Clarke).

Fujifilm Acros 100, Graflex speed graphic w/ 180mm f5.6. (Elijah Clarke).

 Like all good things, the shoot came to an end, and the bitter reality that we had to face was the inevitable walk back to the car. Elijah at the time suggested a short cut that might lead us to a quick way out of the plains. After going the ‘short cut’ way for about an hour we checked our current course, and there was some good news and bad news:

The bad news: We were going completely opposite way of the car and we ran out of water.

The Good news: We were on a vehicle track. (Not really good news, but life’s about being optimistic.) 

While Elijah was packing up, I wandered around for a good look around. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

While Elijah was packing up, I wandered around for a good look around. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

After the realization of our poor decision making, we sat down under a shady tree and decided to tap out and call for help. It was a very inconvenient time for most people since it was right after lunch on a weekday. After a moment of rethinking our life decision of the day we decided to at least get to the main road, we drove here from. After an extra bit of walking, we bumped into a cyclist who didn’t seem to be local. We immediately asked for directions, for a way out only to be told that we were heading to Townsville, which was not much help considering we were IN Townsville. Anyway, he gave us about 21ml of water and rode off to the unknows. There’s another FSC member (2 actually) in our Town so Elijah decided to give Greg a call only to end up in his voicemail (Later on he posted an Instagram story about the new hat he had gotten.) 

Tourist / Water donator we are grateful for your guidance. Fujifilm Pro 400 H, Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

Tourist / Water donator we are grateful for your guidance. Fujifilm Pro 400 H, Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

But in life, unexpecting things happen, such as when a semi-suspicious Ute pulled up randomly by the vehicle track. I instantly started waving my hands above my head like a man stranded on an island. It caught the man’s attention and he kindly offered us a lift back to the car.

Australian Keanu Reeves. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

Australian Keanu Reeves. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

The man has the very look of what I would imagine if Keanu Reeves was Australian. Upon dropping us off, we photographed our savior of the day and to finish the story on a high and Australian note, we grab a pint of beer and called it a day.


Connect

Film photographers Wing Leung and Elijah Clarke are based in Australia. Connect with Wing and see more of his work on Instagram ; connect with Elijah and see more of his work on his website.

FREE FILM : USA presented by worthless studios | Neil Hamamoto, the Free Film Team, and Amy Jasek

Photo by Sean Jackson

Photo by Sean Jackson

Fellow FSC member Katie Mollon alerted me to the Free Film USA project a few weeks ago. I was online looking it up within moments, and subsequently sent a message to Neil Hamamoto to see if he would like to chat with me about it. Fortunately for all of us, his answer was yes! Haven’t hear about the project? Check out the press release:

FREE FILM : USA presented by worthless studios 

New York, NY - worthless studios is pleased to announce FREE FILM : USA, a conceptual public art project distributing and processing rolls of 35mm film across the United States for free. The project will be taking place in a 1973 Airstream trailer that has been converted into a professional darkroom and will travel across the country from August to mid-November 2019. The trailer will stop in 15-25 destinations, asking participants to take photographs based on their interpretation of the prompt ‘red, white and blue.’ The FREE FILM team will be using their stops as opportunities to interact with the local creative communities and gain insight on the unique vantage point of each location. 

Photography’s ability to capture a singular, unaltered moment in time is one of the most powerful tools of documentation. The medium’s history in America is particularly noteworthy. Introduced in conjunction with the westward expansion of the United States, photography has immortalized many of the most significant moments in the span of our country’s modern history. Though nearly 200 years old, film photography continues to be celebrated in this technological age for its raw, unfiltered and poignant ability to archive instances otherwise lost. 

FREE FILM : USA’s celebration of film photography is specific to its goal of capturing an unbiased look at the country. Participants are given free rein to interpret the words ‘red, white and blue’ as they see fit – whether focusing on its ties to patriotism and the experience of being American or how the words more broadly fit into their lives. Through this method of crowdsourcing, FREE FILM : USA will document an impartial, multifaceted, and well-rounded glimpse into present-day American life. 

With each stop, the project seeks to activate the local artistic community and encourage creative participation. Once complete, the project will culminate in a curated body of photographs forever memorializing this particular time in the United States and furthering the imagistic archive of American history. 

The FREE FILM team is made up of artists from a number of different backgrounds celebrating the arts in numerous modes of creation. This project will be a continuation of their interdisciplinary yet cohesive collaboration that has been established while alongside each other at worthless studios. 

worthless studios provides space, materials, technical assistance and resources for aspiring artists of all backgrounds to realize their artistic visions. Founded in 2016 by Neil Hamamoto, and incorporated as a nonprofit in 2019, worthless studios was conceived as a platform committed to knowledge exchange, manufacturing, and public art. The studio has begun to showcase work from new artists in a number of different mediums including sculpture, painting, photography and performance. 

Release date: June 3, 2019 Exhibition: FREE FILM : USA presented by worthless studios Dates: August 2019 – November 2019 Media Contact: Maria Vogel, team@worthlessstudios.com 

The Team

The Team

Neil was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project; my questions are in bold, and his responses follow.

What was the genesis of this project?

I came up with the concept back in October of 2018. I was offered a prime piece of retail space on New York's Canal street and wanted to produce a project under my studio's name - worthless studios - instead of using the space to exhibit my personal sculptural work. worthless studios is a 501c3 non-profit focused on helping new artists start their careers. We provide support by way of studio space, materials and tools. Sean Jackson had been working out of the darkroom in the studio since inception and in thinking about how we could produce an interdisciplinary project FREE FILM : CANAL was born.

I absolutely love the idea of the mobile darkroom in the Airstream! That's been a little dream of mine for a while, but it really is just a dream. How was that process, in terms of sourcing one and getting it ready? I saw some photos on your instagram that make it look like it was a hefty undertaking.

Yes, the Airstream build itself was a huge huge undertaking. We turned a disgusting 1973 Airstream Land Yacht into a professional darkroom, office and exhibition space in about 5 months.

The Airstream build is really another example of how we work collaboratively as a studio. Another artist who has been working out of the studio - Free Tripp - was a huge contributor to making the Airstream possible. He designed the entire plumbing system and electrical system and of course contributed tons of hours to the physical building of it. Caroline Doyle (actually a local New York comedian) was the third set of hands that helped make the Airstream possible. We had to learn a lot as we went but it was an extremely rewarding project in itself that we all get to enjoy now that we are on the road and so far so good.

I'm interested in knowing more about y'all as a group. The press release says "The FREE FILM team is made up of artists from a number of different backgrounds celebrating the arts in numerous modes of creation. This project will be a continuation of their interdisciplinary yet cohesive collaboration that has been established while alongside each other at worthless studios." So, who are you? What sort of art do you each make? And would you like to talk about any collaborations from the past?

I'm Neil and I'm a conceptual artist from New York and the founder of worthless studios. I typical make sculptural work from wood, metal and other prefabricated objects. My most recent works and projects recontextualize commercially manufactured objects to invoke the feeling of newness. I like to revive the identity of outdated objects in order to offer a glimpse of the future present through a nostalgic lens and questions the worth of innovation. Before pursuing sculpture as a full time career, I studied mechanical engineering - product design, and worked in the wood and metal shops for Jeff Koons.

Sean Andrew Jackson has been working to create a portrait series of hand-selected artists each of whom are unique contributors to society, and/or burgeoning artists on the rise. Using an intimate lo-fi monochromatic approach, his aim is to depict these characters as they are in daily life - animated and down-to-earth - behind the scenes and façade of social or commercial media.

Jackson is an American social-documentary photographer born in rural Virginia, now based in New York City focusing on exploring small groups of people. After studying journalism at the University of North Carolina, Jackson spent a period of time working in the newsroom at CNN before moving to Manhattan to apprentice for photographer and icon Bruce Weber.

He is deeply fascinated by the power of people and aims to pair his photography and film alongside his love for anthropological storytelling.

Free is an interdisciplinary artist currently working in New York. His works in sculpture, performance, and sound are responses to the relationship of the interior and exterior and the transmissions of the imaginary into what is real. Since 2018 Free has been working at worthless studios as an artist assistant to Neil.

Caroline is a comedian and writer living and performing in Brooklyn. She grew up in San Francisco and has performed stand up in Chicago, Berlin, the Bay Area and New York, as well as at comedy festivals like SF Sketchfest, the DC Comedy Festival, and Big Little Comedy Fest.

She’s a contributor at Reductress and has been published in the Pink Canoe and Little Old Lady Comedy. Catch her at her monthly shows Stacy at Rebecca's Bar in Brooklyn and Jokes Engineered at Caveat on the LES. Cheers!

Photo by Neil Hamamoto

Photo by Neil Hamamoto

How much film did you acquire for the project?

Quite a bit! We budgeted around 100 rolls per city and are stopping in 18 cities across the country.

How did you decide what cities to visit?

First and foremost I wanted to visit cities that I had not been to before. That list consisted of Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Portland, Santa Fe, Austin, New Orleans, Birmingham and Asheville. Of course there are tons of cities that I've never seen in the US so then it was deciding which cities were big enough to have a film photography market but small enough to not have the access to a darkroom or analog photo network. I also tried to keep the diverse range of US cities in mind and evenly balance our stops

Photo by Neil Hamamoto

Photo by Neil Hamamoto

How's it been going so far? How's the response been?

So far so good! The response from participants and visitors is always positive and I anticipate more of the same as we continue onward. We've finished processing all of the Detroit rolls and have made some selections to be printed. We've also started processing Milwaukee rolls and are excited to start building this exhibition on the theme.

Samples of work from participating photographers, from the Detroit stop:

Photo by Sean Jackson

Photo by Sean Jackson


Connect

Everything you need to know about Free Film: USA is on their website, and you can connect with them on Instagram. Join in! Visit them at one of their upcoming stops.

Japan | Myles Katherine

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My husband and I have always wanted to travel to Japan. When we moved to the West Coast from Virginia, we were that much closer. Yet 6 years went by and we still never visited Japan.

Last summer, we found out that the house we had been renting in Portland, Oregon was sold to a new owner and we had to move out. In Oregon, if you receive a no-cause eviction, the owner has to pay the tenants a moving fee. When we decided to move back to the East Coast, we realized this would be our last chance for a long, long time. So for my 30th birthday, we booked a 10 day trip to Japan using the $3300 in moving costs. It might not have been the most responsible decision, knowing that we had to move across the country too. But I’m not the type of person to allow myself to have regrets in life.

Looking back, it was definitely the right decision, regardless of the fact that it was the most stressful few months of my life. Three days after we got back from Japan, we had to pack up our house and drive 3,000 miles back to Virginia.

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As a full-time photographer, I had to bring at least 10 cameras with me on our trip to Japan. But the only camera that truly means something to me is the Holga - a toy camera manufactured in China. If I had to choose one camera to use for the rest of my life, it would be this one. And while I take a million photos with other cameras on my trips, the Holga photos always end up being my favorite.

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At one point, I dropped my Holga in a river in Kyoto and my husband had to jump in and get it for me. The camera was soaked inside and out, but I continued to shoot the roll, hoping for the best. It ended up adding a dreamy, foggy effect to the images on that roll of film. 

I’ve been obsessed with the Holga for 10 years so naturally; I’ve grown bored of taking straightforward photos with it. I’ve collected various filters, prisms and fabrics over the years to make the images more unique. And after my first accidental double exposure, I started using multiple exposures to add another layer of interest to the photos.

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The Holga is known for the dreamy, vignette it adds to images. Most of my photos end up being self-portraits or photos of my husband, Chris. My work is often described as lonely or surreal because I tend to use single figures in an empty setting. As a person with anxiety and OCD, it’s easy to feel alone and fearful in any situation. I use photography to express that loneliness and to conquer my fears of travel and being in new places. It’s an interesting juxtaposition – as an anxious, obsessive person, I’m absolutely terrified of new places and new experiences, but as a photographer, new places and new experiences are exactly what I crave. In this way, photography forces me to live my life to the fullest and not allow my anxiety to control my life. 

Even though I was photographing every second I had on the trip, I still feel like I didn’t take enough photos. I guess that means I need to go back! 


Connect

Photographer & Fine Artist Myles Katherine is currently based in Virginia. See more of her work on her website and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.