The Search for Music

18 02 2012

XXX Gallery - venue of 'PitchYrCulture', a Social Media Week HK event.

It’s a Friday night and I’m walking down a quiet street in Sheung Wan. Most of the shops are closed now. I’m looking for the XXX Gallery, supposedly on 212 Wing Lok Street, but I don’t see anything half resembling a gallery. I’m pretty convinced that I’m lost.

I spot a metal door, tucked discreetly away on the side of the pavement. XXX, the door cries in bold black letters  emblazoned across a slick white background. Here? I look around and, luckily, see the big ‘Social Media Week HK’ standup sign. So this is it. I push open the door. I walk down the stairs. I push open another door, into some kind of basement. A funky ambience greets me. Aha. I’ve finally found the place.

The PitchYrCulture Crowd. Funky, energetic and lovable.

This is PitchYrCulture, an event presenting various speakers who will tell their personal stories under the theme of ‘Social Media and the Search for Music’ and then share a song for our collective indulgence. As I sit there listening to the speakers, live-tweeting, and enjoying the music, I begin to grasp the importance and significance of music to our world.

Music isn’t just a series of notes, a nice tune thrown together with a catchy beat. Each and every piece of music, as the speakers will show, has its own story: not only the musician’s story, but the listener’s story of how they came to discover and fall in love with the song.

Music isn’t linear either. With the exponential growth of Internet technology and social media, it often appears as if the world of music is moving relentlessly in one single direction: forwards and into the future. We download the newest singles, watch the latest music videos, share the freshest albums. But to assume that social media is only pushing us forwards would be a gross misconception. As the speakers told their stories, it occurred to me that as much as it pushes us forward, social media also allows us to reach back into time and savour again the obscure, lost corners of the historic music world. Each piece of music has its story, be it old or new, futuristic or nostalgic.

Such is the complexity, vivacity and profundity of music.

As the event drew to an end, I feel a giddy, happy sensation. For far too long I’ve been frustrated by not knowing where to look for good music. My overly ‘mainstream’ music collection has been a source of endless iritation (and I must admit, a self-conscious embarrassment). I was tired of only listening to songs on the top charts, or songs with the same chords over and over again. But where was I supposed to start looking?

Tonight, I think I’ve found the perfect solution: PitchYrCulture!


Smartphone Photography: A Darkroom In Your Pocket

17 02 2012

As a well known photography adage goes, the best camera is the one that’s with you. And with skyrocketing  smartphone usage, many of us have come to realise the accessibility, sociability and endless possibilities of smartphone photography.

Here are some tips I picked up from five of Hong Kong’s best smartphone-photographers at last night’s “Getting Social With Smartphone Photography” panel.





1. Every little moment can be awesomised.

by @mochachocolatarita

We might not notice it, but no matter where we are, fascinating stories and captivating moments abound.

Even if something appears to be tediously mediocre, what photographers have to remember is that every little moment can be awesomised. There’s always a story, no matter how dull it seems. (Thanks to panelist Rita Suttarno for this timeless tip).


2. The iPhone puts a darkroom in your pocket.

by @twheat

And that’s why you should take a lot of photos and let your photographic passions run wild. Tyson Wheatley, a CNN editor by profession but really an iPhoneography/Instagram-crazy photographer, has taken so many photos on his iPhone over the past year that he now sees the world “through filters”. For him, iPhoneography has brought the city of Hong Kong alive and allowed him to discover the hidden beauties of this bustling city. Quite simply, he says, “It’s changed my life”. So, go take a lot of photos, get close to your subject,  experiment with apps – and most importantly, take advantage of your own pocket sized darkroom!




3. iPhone photography is NOT fake.

There are some who may think that iPhone photography is not ‘real photography’ (whatever that means), but Lester Lim certainly disagrees. What is ‘real photography’ anyway – aren’t all photos, to strip them to the bare minimum, a manipulation of light?

I was interested to see what Tyson, coming from a journalistic background as a CNN editor, thought of the impact of smartphone photography on citizen journalism. Would the heavy use of filters and editing distort the transparency and democratic nature of citizen journalism? “I suppose yes. But editing of images is not new, and the key for news organisations is to be transparent in the vetting process”.

4. Have patience to capture the moment.

Jason Tse wants you to tell a story within the confines of that little photographic frame. Photography, to him, is capturing

by @jasonbonvivant

something that you want to express, and often, patience is the prime ingredient. He willingly puts life on hold just to get the perfect photo, frequently missing tram stops to capture, create and express!

5. Capture the details.

Vilja Sormunen(the only non-iPhone photographer on the panel), reminds us to look out for details, and use your smartphone

camera as an extension of your memory. With so much information flowing in and out every single second, this tip will surely come in useful for years to come.