Real Live Action

Disposable Camera Project IV: Nostalgia

w/ Christian Nicolay, Taby Cheng, Helen Shaw, Karilynn Ming Ho, Tom Hsu, Hyung Min Yoon

1050 E Hastings St,; April 27, 2019

Valie Madejska

When I got off the bus and looked into the venue for SADMAG’s fourth annual Disposable Camera Project – part of the Capture Photography Festival – I was immediately reminded of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Peering through the windows of this soon to be torn down space, different were people staring intently at individual photographs, popping out against the building’s white washed walls. The people inside looked a lot happier than those in Hopper’s painting, though; something that was verified when I walked through the door, greeted by chatter and music.

Six Vancouver photographers had each been given a 35mm disposable camera in order to engage with the theme of ‘nostalgia.’ Each of them had a different outlook on the term in regards to a longing of the past, all creating a “reflective interrogation of memory, histories, and parallel temporalities; investigation the sweetness and sadness of loved things lost,” as the event description explained.

Chatting with Megan Jenkins, one of the curators, she mentioned that the idea of using disposable cameras came from an initiative previously included in one of their SADMAG print issues, adding that the theme of “nostalgia” is well suited with the magazine celebrating their 10th anniversary.

Hyung Min Yoon took a very logical approach in regards to the theme, taking photos of books whose titles include the word “nostalgia.” Each photo, bathed in red light, represented the exchange of feelings, leading the photographer to question whether the word ‘nostalgia’ came from the images taken in its honour, or whether those images were created from the word itself– a concept that left me wondering for quite a while.

Helen Shaw dove into past memories, with little anecdotes posted in front of items you would skim past while during your groceries. It was almost comforting to know that I’m not the only one who gets taken down memory lane while browsing the supermarket. It was a nice insight into both the photographer’s life, as well as their definition of the term ‘nostalgia.’

Taby Cheng kept their reasoning behind the photos short and sweet, with no description of why they chose to capture what they did, letting viewers make up their own minds. Were the pictures of a location special to the photographer; somewhere something delightful or tragic had happened?

Karilynn Ming Ho’s description should have left more to the imagination, as it left readers more confused than anything else. It referenced a photo of a foot which didn’t exist, and spoke of the signification of blurry images, even though none of the pictures were blurred. There were however, some nice photos of shop fronts – called a “reflection of [an] in-between space” – alluding maybe to, similar to Helen Shaw’s work, the nostalgia of past shopping trips.

Tom Hsu dove into their past via Landsdowne Mall, a place they used to frequent growing up. These very architecturally based photos showed the beauty of something as mundane as a mall, especially when it reminds someone of something special to them.

Finally, there was Christian Nicolay’s work. In its own little space, this selection of photos was by far my favourite. Nicolay was able to portray a longing for the past, through a space and style that is going through “transition and transformation;” photos were cut up and stuck back together in a way that played on the “seen and unseen” aspects of the people and space photographed. In addition, these beautiful stitched together prints were accompanied by a play on words that particularly stood out: “No Where – Now Here,” emphasizing the feeling of things temporary and fleeting depicted in the pictures.

“Turn out was great,” said Megan “which is fabulous, because all of the work sales go back to the artists, who this year donated their proceeds to charity! It [was] a great event all around and I’m so pleased to be part of it. It’s been so fulfilling to see this event grow, and to support emerging artists over the past few years.” She added that, as SADMAG continues to grow, people are encouraged to get involved, through lots of things such as next year’s event, and coming out to their events.

The Disposable Camera Project was a very well organised event, bringing together a lovely mix of community, photography, art and people — but then again, what event could be unsuccessful with Twizzlers and Cheetos as the snacks of choice?