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Something new: the photos people forgot

Vanessa Yung

 

Snapping away with digital abandon, as we now do, it's easy to forget what a hassle it was to drop rolls of film off at a store to be developed - and pick up the photos when they were ready.

Designer Michael Leung and photographer Martin Cheung, of Yau Ma Tei arts space Shanghai Street Studios, once asked Tommy Tong, owner of the Color in August photo lab - which is still open, and still developing customers' snaps - what happened to those pictures that were left unclaimed. By way of reply, Tong pulled open a drawer full of prints.

"We asked Tommy for some of the photo packs to see if we could do something with them," says Leung. "Some were really nice - some actually looked like they had been taken by professional photographers. We decided to start putting them up on our website and share them, so maybe somebody might recognise them and pick them up. Our aim is to reunite people with their memories."

And so the Collective Memory project was born. At the moment, the photo collection is taking shape on the art space's website, but Leung and Cheung are planning to hold an exhibition in their studio.

Leung says they have chosen to display mostly abstract and artistic photos that are open to interpretation and also representative of Hong Kong. Titles have also been given to the pictures, as "a roll of film has a story, sequence or chronological order and we think it's interesting to add a title - it adds another layer".

He says the project is not just about the memories of those who took the photos, but also those of the viewer: "For example, the photo titled Forever Young, which shows two uniformed students jumping in the air and fully enjoying the function of [a four-frame camera], allows viewers to compare or think about the time when they were at school."

For a trip back through time - or to see if the snaps are yours, or you're in any of them - visit www.shanghaistreetstudios.org

 

 

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