A new life chapter
by Brendan George Ko
We have been following closely Brendan George Ko since he started collecting the scraps of his intense existence, in 2013. His work was already on the cover of Fisheye #18. Here we are now, ready to unveil the fourth chapter of his Scrapbook: Strangerintwoworlds.
Canadian photographer Brendan George Ko writes, records sound, shoots videos, takes pictures. His tireless appetite for living manifests itself in an enthusiastic artistic production. Scrapbook – a visual diary in yearly chapters – collects the fragments of Brendan’s existence in between his professional projects. Free of preconceived angles or external commissions, Brendan’ Scrapbook experiments with themes and techniques, collecting vibrant instants. “I think of each scrapbook as the breadcrumbs you leave behind to find your way back”, Brendan tells us. Created to be a personal memory container, the project evolved into an online “family album”, that the photographer shares with the protagonists of his shots. But Brendan’s visual storytelling also relies on a deep reflection on the photographic medium. “I was first attracted to photography because of how problematic it is. It is inherently exploitive, especially when used in communities whose image has been distorted from the truth” he tells us, “I have taken a responsibility in my use of this magical medium by taking the time to understand what I am capturing”. Conversely, through his pictures, Brendan understands and shapes his own history.
Capturing the soul of a moment
Brendan thinks of the Scrapbook as a box that expresses the passage of time. Year after year, the container itself changes, but the evolution is mainly due to the memories’ variation. Faithful to Brendan’s cinematic style, each chapter has a distinct mood. Strangerintwoworlds has a slower pace than the previous Scrapbooks – God Only Made One of Me, The Wandering Hobo and HOMENEXODUS. Along with the photographers’ typical flashed scenes, a warm sunset light paints Brendan’s last series in orange and pink. In post-production, the photographer plays with each shot’s atmosphere until he feels that the aesthetic mood of the image matches his memory of it. Because to Brendan, this is what pictures are about: treasuring life’s instants. “It is because photography holds this ability to help me remember, that it has become an obsession”, he tells us, “No matter how used to the image we are as a society – being able to replicate the world in an instant will always be magic: cameras do hold the ability to capture the soul”.
Despite the flash that detaches the subjects from the background, and the fictional allure of Brendan’s documentary, his pictures are deeply embedded in their context. Brendan cherishes the culture of Hawaii, where his parents live. Among his inspirers, is Ed Greevy, who used his camera to empower the people of Hawaii, creating an extensive visual record of the 70-90s political movements.
Images from “Strangerintwoworlds” by Brendan George Ko