Sunday, 17 May 2015

Brendan George Ko

Montréal, Canada



You’re a storyteller, and use (almost!) everything perceptible to express and recount past events and to recreate memories. In this endeavour I feel that your work, in its entirety, is very personal; would you say that you not only create, but also really ‘live' your art/work?

I’m obsessed with remembering. When I am witnessing something that interests my curiosity I get this strong urge to document it. It can be a really good story being told, or an absurd scene on the street, or someone that I connect with (even though I just met them). For as long as I remember I’ve had this obsession, I just didn’t have the tools to capture them. For a while it was photography, then writing, then both, and now it is mainly sound and video. I believe that life should inspire art but life can also be the art. 

Is it a goal of yours to try to capture moments and atmospheres as completely as possible? How much of it would you say is or could be conscious interpretation?

There is a certain sense of a place that I try to capture with my images (still or moving).  With Nocturne it was about creating an image that reminded me of landscape of New Mexico. Growing up there I had heard countless stories of ghosts, aliens, and shape-shifters and their myth haunted the landscape. With ALOHA the atmosphere is being used to complicate a Western perspective of Hawai’i (a paradise for tourists). It will never be complete as all images fail to give us something real, something alive, and able to change. Motion picture is able to bring us closer to reality but in turn it replaces one reality for another (a filmic reality). 

How do your projects come into being? Do they start with an idea, a photograph, a quote …?

They often start with a story or situation and they develop as an investigation. ALOHA came out of my time spent in Hawai’i and some of the stories I heard from there. It turn those stories became what I know of Hawai’i, and so I felt compelled to use those stories for the conceptual framework of the body of work.  With Proof of Existence it started off as a trip to China and how I wanted to create images I haven’t already seen of China from the numerous photo essays about that place and its situation. In turn it became a story about my father realizing he was a tourist in a place he was exiled from so many years ago. 

In teamwork, which is the position you find yourself assuming most of the times?

I’m terrible at following and I feel uncomfortable with leading. So often I just go my own way. I believe a good collaboration is between individuals who have their own thing that they do and how those things that they do come together. Both have to share the same intentions and believe in each other beyond just their practice. 

How has being on the road while growing up shaped you?

I think my friends find me a bit strange and eccentric and it comes from having lived in very different places where what is normal to some is strange to others. My life in New Mexico is where the artist in me came into being, and like my current muse, Hawai’i, it is a place where oral tradition is a central part of the culture. 

What is more important to you personally: stability or movement? Why?

Definitely movement. I have no idea what stability is, and I recently moved out of a city I had been living in for 11 years (the longest place I ever lived in) because I started to feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t call myself a world traveller, I like to move around and experience different places, but I’m more interested in gaining new perspective (which I believe comes from staying somewhere for more than just a visit). 

Is there a person who you feel is, physically or mentally, always by your side?

I know little of things that last the test of time, such as friends that I have said goodbye and that there wasn’t some distance as a result. My best friend, Faye, is someone I think about everyday since the first time I saw her. I like to joke to her about how we are stuck with each other, that even if we grew tired of each other, we will always been strongly connected. I have never felt that with anyone else, and though I am too young and inexperienced in whatever amount of life that I have I feel that I will never have that with another soul. 

I noticed that in the stories you share on your blog, you never give any names for the persons described. Is there a reason for this?

Those stories function similarly to a journal but they are on the internet and they are being shared. It is no longer about them or even me at that point, it is about communication. It is like communicating with smoke signals: you are writing a message in the sky for all to see and people just see the message but never the person writing it. 

What are you working on currently?

ALOHA is my primary focus, I hope to work on that project for the rest of my life as I will always have a strong connection to Hawai’i. I’m in Montreal at the moment and I started a documentary on an urban dance movement called, “urb.SURF”. And every once in a while I update 2011’s We Soon Be Nigh! with new work. 

Who is or are your favourite storytellers? 

Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami, Omer Fast, and Duncan Trussell. 

(p.s. Be sure to take a look at his website, and take in all pictures, videos and sounds to full extend.)

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