As part of the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF), Nguan was a speaker as part of the Artist Talks that was held on 29 September at the National Design Centre.
From the website:
“In his decade-spanning series Singapore, Nguan turns his camera on his native city and reimagines the adolescent nation as an iconic dream landscape. The work examines themes of longing, discombobulation and regret, evoking the narrative complexity of daily Singaporean life while adhering to a meticulous palette of delicate hues. The resultant photographs are meant to seem disquieting yet naive and mythical but true.”
This field trip was organised by Ng Yixian Jo-Ann (A0142014B) and Ho Koon Yee Kaitlyn (A0143645E) and attended by 13 other classmates of ours.
Nguan structured the talk by first listing various elements that he personally adapted for his photographs and how they helped create the dreamlike shooting style he is known for. Behind every shot, there were interesting anecdotes – such as stories behind certain shots and people recognizing themselves in his pictures. He also mentioned various ‘pain points’ of shooting public subjects and waiting for the right lighting.
In addition, he also provided more insight into his books, such as how “How Loneliness Goes” was somewhat of a prelude to his most recently published “Singapore” and the various struggles he had to deal with.
At the end of the talk, there was a Q&A session where he answered questions that touched on things like the importance of social media in boosting his existence as a photographer, personal inspirations, and his intentional lack of presence within his photos.
After leaving the venue, Jo-Ann managed to have a one on one conversation with Nguan to ask exactly how he moved around photographing.
He clarified that he only brought his camera, 2 pockets worth of film (around 10 rolls) and as of late, his tripod. No bag. When asked why, he mentioned that he felt it was cumbersome to have a bag on him which might get in the way since he is always moving about.
His choice of camera has remained the same for many years now – a medium format Fuji 6×9. However, for no special reason. He’s grown accustomed to the tool and simply sees it as ‘sufficient’.
Other interesting points he mentioned during the chat was when he clarified that this form of photography is merely his hobby and he does not depend on this for his livelihood.
All in all, it was an inspiring talk littered with humorous moments from Nguan himself, providing a closer look into the mind of a local photographer so popular, his name has become an adjective.