Photographed by Yilin Yang
I have always been fascinated by escapism: human fantasy on escaping reality. Taken from conventions, concerts, and city streets, this ongoing project aims to document the moments between fantasy and reality. These settings offer the excuse for hedonism – our search for something bigger than reality, away from the rigidity of societal pressure and the mindless aggression that is constantly out of control. What is left are the images of those brief moments amidst gratification and desire for more; the pleasure principle. Inspired by Chris Steele-Perkins’ socio-political approach on the British hedonism during the Thatcherite era, the Pleasure Principle is an ongoing contemporary cultural examination of America. Much like Chris Steele-Perkins’ reevaluation of the changing social landscape of 80s Britain with his project which he worked on after returning from extensive travels throughout third world countries, the Pleasure Principle is a reassessment of America after my experience in other cultures.
The choice of settings in this project is a difficult one. With the drastic technological advancement over the last decades, the concept of privacy in the digital age catalyzed ethical debate onto the medium itself. Where should a photo be taken? Photography within personal space is sensitive in nature. The settings for this project are mostly in public spaces, although many images are taken in intimate locations under strong censorship. Due to the candid nature of this project, there is a sense of uncertainty in the narration. Thus the project isn’t specific enough to be an analysis on individual cases, but rather a look through the surface of normality of society. Due to the subjective nature of normality, it is also up to the audiences to decide what they see through the looking glass.