On The Road, We Have Secrets and Cigarettes.
《みつめ》by PIPI YAO⟨ 03 January 2023 ⟩
大學時期，姚愛寗在家中發現了父親的一台 Nikon FM2 底片相機，並帶著它持續地拍照。「底片相機更接近我想拍攝情感流動的感覺，我們無法在拍攝的一刻看到它顯影出來的狀態。我去送給沖洗底片的店時，沖洗的溫度，不同的藥水、或是由不同的人來沖洗，效果也有可能不同。我很喜歡底片攝影帶來的驚喜感和不確定性。」她說照片中的晃動、失焦、漏光的影像更接近她情感流動的方式，「我發現拍照不只是在記錄一件物件，記錄手中這根煙，這件外套，或是那個人站在那裡，而是拍下當下我跟這個人的關係，我跟這個場合的關係，當時的濕度、溫度，我們想留下來的是什麼。」
Being a multitalented new-generation actor from Taiwan, Pipi Yao can see things that the naked eye cannot see and has been podcasting about spiritual learning under the name of Miss Universe. Her spiritual power is profoundly reflected in her work; particularly when she picks up the camera and presses the shutter. “My photography work is a bit mystical. My photos are an exploration of life , and I want them to be infused with the power of hope.” Some say that the camera lens is human beings’ third-eye; it doesn’t only capture what our bare eye can see, but also those details that we never pay attention to. With photography, time and space are forever preserved. While she is not acting, Pipi takes on the role as a photographer to capture her everyday life in the most direct and ordinary manner. Her photos are published alongside some of her writing, revealing her thoughts and apprehensions about life.
“The emotion is so genuine that it makes you feel naked.”
Pipi’s photobook is called, Mitsume (みつめ), meaning “three eyes” in Japanese. The title also shares the same pronunciation with 见つめる, which means “gaze”. The book opens up a window for Pipi to gaze upon and reflect on her life in the past decade. “Way back when we first thought of doing a photobook, my editor asked me what kind of book I wanted it to be. Immediately I had the idea that it could be a book that people would want to bring along on a trip. They don’t necessarily have to read it all the time, but whenever they feel like flipping through it, they can find words within that help them reflect upon their thoughts and emotions and feel at ease.” To produce such a book, she went through her old journals, gazing and reflecting upon them. And in the end, a photobook that combines images and personal reflections was born.
“As I sorted out the images and texts, I realized that I have changed from being a person who is often confused and easily drowned in the pain of parting and loss to someone who is much more at ease with life. I’ve learnt that I need to deal with life from the perspective of an actor. In the past, photography served the purpose of recording life. I started taking pictures because I was too afraid of loss. I wanted to capture the people and things I love via photos, especially my grandmother whom I photographed the most back then. But right now, photography has turned into a form of creation for me; in which I can create the scenes, emotions, and moments of life I want in a more lively way.”
A photo exhibition under the same title of Mitsume was recently held in Taipei. Hanging on the white walls were photographs of various sizes, and in between them, there were three canvases with numerous eyes printed on them. It is as if, through these eyes, one can take a glimpse of Pipi’s life. “Some of my friends and fans think that looking at my photobook is like reading my personal diary and asked if I felt uncomfortable because of that. But the thing is, the process of recreating has somehow transformed the diary into a different form. It’s not a diary anymore. This is a process of self-construction. I think it’s because the emotion is so genuine that it makes you feel naked.”
“Hell is in nowhere but an evil, vicious mind. Beauty is in nowhere but a kind, gentle heart.”
Pipi has many thoughts on this particular sentence she wrote on 24 June 2014. “Everyone used to think that hell exists somewhere; maybe in the afterlife, or maybe in the place that one has to be because of the nasty things they did. With what has happened in the world these past few years, or maybe it’s just me who has changed, I now feel that the selfish and dark elements of human nature is where hell lies.” During that time, she was spending some time alone by the seaside and talking to a lot of stones and pebbles. One day, she saw a lot of rubbish on the seashore, and that started her thinking about how human beings have been destroying nature. She started talking to a very big stone nearby which seemingly had a lot of good energy, “Aren’t you mad about how human beings litter and ruin nature and life?” And the stone responded, “This is the least evil thing that human beings have done.”
“Ouch. It was as if I was stabbed.” On that same day, she read on the news that an elephant ate a pineapple containing firecrackers. It made her so furious that she shook with rage, and that’s how that sentence came about. “But we can change. There are many people with good hearts. As long as we have a good heart, this place can be heaven.”
“Right now, there is nothing more important than living in the moment.”
Pipi found a Nikon FM2 film camera owned by her father when she was in college. Since then, she has been taking pictures with it everywhere. “The film camera can better capture the emotions in a way that I prefer. With a film camera we can never know the outcome when we press the shutter button until much later when the film is developed. And even when I bring the films for developing, the chemicals they use, the temperature in which the films are developed, and the person doing it; all of which make a difference to the final products. I like the surprises and uncertainty that film cameras bring.” She said that the blurry, out of focus images with light leaks are closest to her emotions. “I realized that photography is not merely about recording an object; whether it’s the cigarette or the coat in my hand, or the person standing over there. It’s about capturing the relationship between me and that person, that occasion. The humidity and temperature. And, what we want to leave behind.”
“If I had to recommend a photo, I’d pick the last image in this photobook. It captures fireworks blooming in the air; not too outrageous nor extravagant, but a small one that’s striving to put on its best show. This photo perfectly captures my state of mind at the time; I forgot whether it was during the New Year or Lunar New Year, but I was living with my friends back then, experiencing life together. Everyone was happy and living in the moment. This firework is like life — we have to try our best to live every moment of life to the fullest.” Pipi is someone who lives in the moment without worrying too much about the future. Live the present to the fullest, truly experience it, and create something fun out of it. The future will be more interesting that way. “Right now, there is nothing more important than living in the moment.”
- Previously — Live, Laugh, And Love Like A Child