equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
30 Mar 08

Solo Artist

This week, the sound from my right head­phone started crack­ling and promptly died. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to my music with only the left chan­nel until I can find a replace­ment pair.

This has led to the unfor­tu­nate dis­cov­ery that when singing to your­self at a cer­tain vol­ume, OTHER PEOPLE CAN STILL HEAR YOU.

28 Mar 08

How To Interpret Nothing

(I’ve been writ­ing this in my head for four years. Four years and seven months, to be precise.)

So one last touch and then you’ll go
And we’ll pre­tend that it meant some­thing so much more
But it was vile, and it was cheap
And you are beau­ti­ful but you don’t mean a thing to me

—Death Cab for Cutie, Tiny Vessels

Ghost picture

I got this pic­ture in New Jersey. It’s the most pecu­liar size for a pho­to­graph: 3 7/16 by 4 13/16 inches.

For some rea­son, I see it prop­erly like this — land­scape ori­en­ta­tion, with the white stripe on the left — when it could just as well be rotated any other way. This is the bias I place on it. The way I view it.

It almost looks like a room with a wall in frame on the left, and the cam­era has metered for a flash off the wall, under­ex­pos­ing the rest of the pic­ture. There are two smears in the black­ness. Maybe an out-of-focus object, maybe a fin­ger­print on the lens.

I didn’t take the pic­ture. Someone else did, thought it was bad, and was about to throw it out before I asked for it. Someone who took me for granted. Someone who’s world I lived in but for a week, in the midst of the intense sum­mer humid­ity and coitus inter­rup­tus.

I’ve kept it in one of my note­books since. The edges have turned yel­low, and the cor­ners blunt from handling.

Every time I look at it, I like to think that I see some­thing in that grain and that noise. That something’s there; I just don’t see it because there isn’t enough light to expose it, but it exists nonethe­less. Some pho­to­graphic kōan, where I become that which I seek.

But I know there isn’t, the way I know it was noth­ing more than pass­ing moment, a week for­got­ten, a life unchanged.

And I’ve been hap­pily fool­ing myself ever since.

26 Mar 08

Psychoanalytic Reflections 03

My ther­a­pist is on vaca­tion now. When he gets back, I’ll start to see him on a bi-monthly instead of weekly basis. At first he sug­gested that we slow down only once I get a han­dle on my anx­i­ety, but when I explained that the ses­sions were putting me in a neg­a­tive cash-flow sce­nario, he under­stood and agreed1.

  1. We’re both baf­fled by the fact that the ses­sions aren’t cov­ered by OHIP, whereas phys­i­cal health prob­lems are. []
23 Mar 08


Glamourous Paige

Thumbnail: Innocent Paige
Thumbnail: Paige's smirk
Thumbnail: Hopeful Paige
Thumbnail: Mischievous Paige
Thumbnail: Model Paige's
Thumbnail: Paige's purse
Thumbnail: Muted Paige
Thumbnail: Stoic Paige
Thumbnail: Paige's eyes
Thumbnail: Three quarters Paige

Usually I don’t post this many pic­tures of one shoot of a sin­gle per­son because there’s often a lot of redun­dancy, but Paige has a thou­sand expres­sions that must be cap­tured and shown to the world.

There’s a com­plex­ity in her face that betrays the lay­ers and lay­ers of her char­ac­ter. By turns ebul­lient, hope­ful, play­ful, and uncer­tain — every frame is dif­fer­ent. I feel like I could write an essay on her look alone.

Best viewed on large and on black, of course, so click the pic­tures. Commentary at full size.

18 Mar 08

The Peeing Sound

Sometimes, when I pee, I shud­der a lit­tle bit. Not only that, but a sound may escape me. The only way I can describe it is a soft, trem­bling, exclamation.

Sometimes, this hap­pens at a pub­lic bathroom.

Sometimes, there hap­pens to be some­one stand­ing next to me, also peeing.

Sometimes, I get funny looks.

16 Mar 08


Snow surrounds a bus shelter

Snow weighs down branches

Snow taller than a trash bin

Townhouses in winter

Snow is a rel­a­tively hard thing to cap­ture on film. With so much white, there’s very lit­tle con­trast or tex­ture, so noth­ing to lead the eye. You want to give a sense of being suf­fo­cated by all this now, but too much of the same thing in a pic­ture becomes bor­ing. It’s bal­anc­ing the sub­ject and work­ing with avail­able light that becomes important.

I don’t think we’ve reached the record for snow­fall yet, but we’re close. I tried to walk to work, but gave up. Even trudg­ing through the snow to get these shots left me sweat­ing. It’s days like these that I’m thank­ful that I live in a condo, because my condo fees go towards shov­el­ing the park­ing lot. People told me they had to shovel their dri­ve­ways a cou­ple times in one night.

14 Mar 08

Traces of Me

I’m just com­ing off a mod­er­ate cold I’ve had for the last week. All the clas­sic symp­toms — runny, stuffy nose, con­ges­tion, slight headache, yel­low phlegm — but oddly enough, barely a hint sore throat. It’s been unpleas­ant to say the least.

A lit­tle while ago, Tiana wrote “I look in the bowl after to see how impres­sive it was. I’m pretty sure you do too”.

This cold has made me real­ize that I not only look in the bowl (I’m sure Freud would diag­nose us as being fix­ated in the anal stage of psy­cho­sex­ual devel­op­ment), but I open my Kleenex after blow­ing in it as well, to check for dis­coloured mucus, phlegm, blood, or bits of brain that may have escaped through my nose.

12 Mar 08

Moo Minicards

Moo Minicard montage

Thumbnail: The Moo box
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard package
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard holder
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard detail
Thumbnail: The Moo keyfob

My Moo Minicards are in! I wanted a set to hand out at art shows and to peo­ple I ask to model for me. I also throw a few in with each print I sell. People have really enjoyed them; many have a hard time decid­ing which one they want to take. The great thing about the Minicards is that you can order up to 100 dif­fer­ent pic­tures on the front, so that peo­ple get a sense of the range of pho­tog­ra­phy you do.

Read the rest of this entry »

09 Mar 08

A Thousand Kisses Deep

I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
Hey, I’ve got noth­ing to do today but smile.
Da-n-da-da-n-da-da-n-da-da and here I am
The only liv­ing boy in New York

Half of the time we’re gone but we don’t know where,
And we don’t know here.

—Simon and Garfunkle, The Only Living Boy in New York

Every day, we get caught up in our lives.

We adopt pets to give us a sense of fam­ily. We eat break­fast at work or in the car to save our­selves time so we can work some more. We scorn those who express emo­tion, we avoid eye con­tact with strangers on the street.

Everything we do — the food we eat, the movies we watch, the home team we cheer for, our cof­fee shop romances — they’re just try­ing to fill that hole, that gap that’s miss­ing, the only way we feel alive.

We don’t slow down, we don’t fig­ure things out. We don’t reflect and appre­ci­ate what we have.

Like straw­berry cheese­cake ice cream with a thick gra­ham cracker swirl. Like the seren­ity of the snow that falls around us, when heaven decides to bless the earth.

Life gets in the way of liv­ing.

And now I real­ize just how guilty I’ve been of this. I’ve been look­ing for love, but never rec­og­nized it when I found it. All I ever wanted to do was lie in bed, look into your eyes, and go through my favourite albums with you. But I never did. And now I won­der. Why can’t we just live? We can’t we just love?

Sometimes you have to stop. You can’t cap­ture every­thing. You need to throw your­self in.

A thou­sand kisses deep.

07 Mar 08

Channel Mixer

One of the photographer’s great­est assets is the nude model. Without cloth­ing, there’s no chance for some­one to out­wardly project their per­son­al­ity. Only a human stripped to the bare essen­tials, naked to the world as the day they were born, pure and with­out bias.

This was an exer­cise in mix­ing mono­chro­matic colour chan­nels to bring out details such as cuts, scars, stub­ble, and goose­bumps. Also, some good prac­tice in com­po­si­tion and fram­ing. Best viewed large and on black (so click the pic­tures1).







And, of course, it doesn’t hurt if he looks like he’s been carved out of marble.

  1. Feed read­ers may have to visit the perma­link to take advan­tage of the black Lightbox script. []
05 Mar 08

Therapy in 140 Characters or Less

Twice in one day? What?

Five years ago, I wrote that hope was the mind­killer. It can be a euphoric feel­ing, but as the result of sev­eral bad expe­ri­ences, the poten­tial for dis­ap­point­ment out­weighed the gain.

My way of deal­ing with dis­ap­point­ment was to assume the worst. It made me com­fort­able. There was cer­tainty, and I could move on.

So I had learned never to hope. This is how I changed. This is how I adapted. A defence mech­a­nism I used to pro­tect myself from being hurt. I had been fine with this, until today.

Perhaps it was hav­ing Julie tell me that I’m bet­ter than the atti­tude I have, or the life I lead1, but I’m filled with hope again. For once, I dare to dream of some­thing greater.

I want it and hate it at the same time. It gives me courage, but throws my world into uncer­tainty, like I’m set­ting myself up to be hurt again.

But Julie’s strong enough to believe in me and stub­born enough not to give up, because I’m not capa­ble of believ­ing in myself.

And maybe that’s enough to break the cycle.

  1. It made me real­ize I need some­one else to tell me cer­tain things, because I can’t see them for myself. I hate the fact that I can’t be strong enough for myself. I prob­a­bly shouldn’t. It just means there’s some­thing else about which I’m being too hard on myself, which I’ll have to tell my psy­chol­o­gist about any­way. []
05 Mar 08

Mute And Muse

Assume as necessary.

Why is it so polit­i­cally incor­rect to show your feel­ings? Would it be inap­pro­pri­ate to tell you that I’m in love?

That your dim­ples are like hinges that purse your lips in the most adorable way, and I want to kiss them. That I want to have you here next to me, to feel the weight of your body press­ing against mine. That I want to smell you on my fin­gers, I want to fold my sheets around you, I want to feel your curls under my hands as I lather and rinse.

Because I’m sick of being polite and I’m tired of propriety.

So let’s deal with this attrac­tion. Let’s not ignore what’s between us.

02 Mar 08

All Work And No Play

I’m sit­ting on my chaise in the dark, Macbook Pro in lap, cur­tains open to the snow out­side. Every now and then, the wind catches a loose patch of snow, and it sounds like sand drag­ging along the ground out­side. If you close your eyes, it’s like you’re sit­ting on a beach at low-tide under a night sky.

I haven’t done this in a while.

The show is over. There’s sup­posed to be one more inter­view next week, but at least I can breathe now. I’ve finally had time to clean the house, which is prob­a­bly why I feel com­fort­able enough to write.

There are icons for movies on my desk­top, ones I’ve started watch­ing but haven’t fin­ished, because I haven’t been able to emo­tion­ally invest in them. I did, how­ever, get a chance to watch Cidade de Deus which is the best movie I’ve seen in months, and Constantine, purely for the Tilda-Swinton-as-angel factor.

Tilda Swinton in Constantine

I real­ized that I like girls who look like boys. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m gay.

On a sticky, I seem to have writ­ten “a small pair of skis”. I don’t remem­ber doing this, or what for. There’s also a phone num­ber there with no name. I want to call the num­ber to find out who it is, but I’d just hang up if some­one answered and that’d be rude.

I should call Dan. I should reor­ga­nize my pho­tos for appro­pri­ate backup. I should be prac­tic­ing Tai Chi. I should be hav­ing more fun. I should be fill­ing out my thought record worksheets.

But right now, I should really be in bed.