Hong Kong-based Lomographer Lean Lui recently launched her visual diary <19.29>, which traces her metamorphosis over the past 20 years. Relying on abstractions and soft colors, her dreamy images seemingly serves as a cathartic expression of the highs and lows that shaped her to be the artist that she is today. In this interview, she opens up how self-reflection enabled her to create a delicate and evocative photo book.
Hi Lean! Welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. What’s been keeping you busy lately?
So warm to be back here! This community is just like my home which gives me a lot of love and support.
Recently I am busy with my first photo book <19.29> and exhibitions. I am preparing for the 2018 Hong Kong International Photography Festival and having in Hong Kong Art Experience Gallery. It’s my honor to share my works and my world to the public.
Congratulations on your new photo book, <19.29>! Can you tell us more about how the concept for this came about?
<19.29> was published on the September 29, 2018, my 20th birthday.
This is a rather personal book. More than the connections in the corresponding pages, this book is a connecting thread of my experiences, feelings, and changes that happened in the past 20 years. It can be regarded as a private diary: from birth, childhood to puberty. Every single significant event that happened to me and all those who mean a lot to me are transformed into abstract and metaphorical photographs in the book.
I have always believed that art is a media for expressing our hearts. It also reveals what a person sees, reads, and thinks. I hope that when the readers go through this book, they can feel the subtle changes through each period and play in my world.
Among the beautiful photographs included in your book, which one speaks to you the most? Can you tell us the story behind it?
This may not the most eye-catching photo but it is the most meaningful photo to me. First, it included all the elements that represent me fully: Lolita dress, flowers, girl, and skin.
Second, the story behind, a girl in the age with many fantasies, should be experiencing a lot of romance but she didn’t get anything. Have you ever had the feeling like you want something extremely but the only thing you can do is wait? You don't know who decides our destinies. Just like the quote in Forrest Gump: "I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze.”
Your images have a dreamy, abstract look to them. What inspires your photography?
I’m full of curiosity and questions to everything.
I love reading and studying different kind of things, like Semiology, Occultism, Philosophy. Also, I am always inspired by Impressionism, Renaissance, and movies from all ages and all countries.
But mostly I take inspiration from my personal experience. I regard photography as my private diary, I like to hide my story and feeling in it.
Whenever you see an inspiring scene, what usually draws you into photographing it?
When something sinks into my mind, it will turn out as a picture. It just like my animal instinct. At this moment, I shoot in four categories:
First, the projection and fantasies of my inner feelings.
Second, questions that I think of, like the relationship between the self and world (existential stuff), the relationship between people, time and space, etc.
Third, to convey a message, like social issues ( carries personal experience) and my point to view (, a present for my grandma), and my recent project( which is also inspired by my personal experience).
Four, anything that I feel for. All arts are a media to express the heart, and it reveals what a person watches, reads, and thinks.
What role does film photography play in your creative expression?
It’s like Pandora’s and Schrödinger's Cat’s box to me.
Film photography is more poetic compared to digital. I love vintage things so much such as grains and scratch, shooting on film allows me to add that effect on my photo without any retouching. Moreover, I like doing developing experiments with exposed photo chemicals, acid, and anything I can play with. I don’t like delicate things — I prefer surprise and imperfection.
Thank you for opening your dreamy diary to us, Lean!