Discover more from ginagawa
the nokia phone
and how it's going now
January 13 2021. I stumble upon Jerry Hsu’s Tumblr site, Nazi Gold, filled with photography taken with his cellphone beginning around 2006-2007.
This comes two weeks after having already started @vnclckjw, where I started documenting everything from the everyday. From makeshift tarot readings at Wendy’s place to assisting Chris on shoot right before National Day, the account serves as an online repository for moments taken for granted and constantly passing by.
Of course back then in January 2021, I had no idea what my own account would morph into. But I remember being very intrigued with Jerry Hsu’s work as the photos taken with my 2020 iPhone SE, while matching his overall approach and sensibilities, were just too crisp.
And so I spend the next few months hunting down my old phone of choice.
down by the water
The idea from months prior was swept under the rug unceremoniously, after meeting multiple dead ends when asking a few friends where I could source an old phone. One afternoon in early May 2021, I remember dragging Yin Lin and Wendy around, determined to find this elusive device.
We hit handphone shops around Little India, constantly told by store owners that other shops nearby could help instead. There were a lot of phones catered for the elderly but no old handphones pre-dating the touch screen models. That afternoon turned evening ended in my old office, with some beers to accompany a day well spent with friends, albeit still phone-less.
I remember wondering what my old Cybershot photo library contained. Photos taken to the backdrop of Airplanes. My guess is as good as yours.
Little did I know that the phone I ended up finding days later was a stone’s throw away from my partner’s old place in Kallang.
Off of Upper Boon Keng Market and Food Centre, there is a Mama Shop located near Block 13A. Perusing through Google Maps now, I’m inclined to believe that the shop is called Phone Box.
The old Chinese uncle asked me what I was going to use it for. When I respond with 拍照 (pāi zhào), to take photos, I vaguely recall a look of fond disbelief.
The first thing I did was take this video, and as you can tell I’m triumphant, delirious with the absurdity of this tangential pursuit. Yin Lin knows best how giddy I was that afternoon.
title self-explanatory, closed captions available, riveting cinematography
The first photo captured with the Gold Nokia C2-01 was this picture of the Kallang River.
A river that had heard many late night conversations amongst friends, seen countless happenings, and remains flowing peacefully for those who seek its calm.
Fast forward to present day, photos spanning from 8 May 2021 to now sit in my hard drive, mostly unseen. I don’t know yet what this entails for this photography project. This is me trying to figure it out.
The material is largely incoherent. As the months passed, I was increasingly invested in my iPhone camera roll account and that resulted in my Nokia phone photography feeling like an afterthought. Something to whip out randomly, rendering friends and family alike to be confused with this archaic artefact.
A friend in Singapore, Ranice, would always ask for it to play City Bloxx. A friend here in Melbourne, Yusuf, was mildly concerned cause he thought it was a burner phone.
My creative practice bio is still severely underdeveloped. Here are two paragraphs from what I wrote on my application for a digital storytelling programme.
He is interested in writing the mundane, the in between of human interactions, attempting to tease out meanings from acts overlooked, loneliness and living between cultures.
He documents the everyday slowly and watches a ton of film (that he should get to writing about more). When not writing, he shoots photography on film / iphone se / old nokia phone. He also goes to the cinema and gigs, mostly alone.
Very, very rough. I’m thankful for them giving me a shot. Hopefully the course will allow me to stumble closer towards a clearer synthesis of things done over the past few years.
I am also finally picking up the film camera again this weekend (yay). Meeting an old friend for the first time since pre-pandemic (yay again) for a Photo Walk around Melbourne's most iconic laneways (ugh).
I envision that this space will be populated with random images that were taken by the Nokia C2-01. Thinking shorter reads, unless of course I happen to remember more. And I decide to self-excavate.
for anyone fact checking out there, yes the nokia c2-01 came out in 2011, way past the first touch screen phone. in essence, this point is fascinating to me. a company still pumping out these phones when their flagship then, the N9, was competing with the likes of the iPhone 4s and Samsung Galaxy S2.
a limbo. a convenient mirror.
if anyone has any old phones lying around or know where to source them, would love to shoot with something like this. if Yang stumbles upon this Substack, I am disappointed to update that the Casio Wrist Camera’s LCD is dead.
still not convinced? hear this one.
race released in 2010. nokia c2-01 released in 2011. i rest my case.
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