Monday, June 11, 2012

Spaces in Between


Malaysians will surely understand what this image is trying to say. If you are not from Malaysia, I will be surprised if you can see it.

38 comments:

  1. Hmm ... as regards me you may be right :)

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    1. Its a sensitive issue, but those who see it will see it. Its best left unexplained. But photographs speak the truth !!

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  2. The chap in the center looks much darker than the other two... could this be a form of segregation at work, perhaps?

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    1. Hello Bert,
      You are almost getting there !! Three different people. Something is not right in this country, and everyone is ignoring it haha.

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  3. Racial indifference

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    1. Optimistic !! I like your vision !

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  4. Are they watching a hot chick? :)

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    1. Ah there was no hot chick in sight, but they were all waiting for something.

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  5. Uhh.. noncooperation between races?

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    1. I would not choose the word non-cooperation, but yes it definitely raises the issues among races.

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  6. First Impression, 3 guys, one chinese looking one indian "darker" looking and one malaysian/indonesian looking.
    All 3 totally ignoring each other and looking uncomfortable.

    With some thoughts I imagine you refer to social/status/racial differenced in your country.
    Last time I visited Malaysia back in 2004 I observed this "phenomenon" partial, chinese working class, indian whatever and malaysian upper/middle class.
    Might be a religious part as well in the bigger picture.

    Hope the best for your lovley and wonderfull country.

    Regards fromGermany.
    Dr.Crane

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    1. Dr Crane,
      Spot on. This is the best description on what I have had in mind all along, but not to such extremities. Indeed there is an evident divide, and it is still an issue the government has failed, or has been reluctant to root out.

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  7. Robin, This one-image photo-essay raises street photography to a new level of journalistic integrity. This photo tells a poignant truth of social dysfunction that I'm sure weighs on the hearts of concerned Malaysians. Having visited Malaysia a dozen times since 1978 as part of the Chinese Buddhist community, I know the painful memories of the May 13 incident of 1969 and its aftermath are still fresh in the' minds of many Chinese. As a moderate Muslim-led society, Malaysia has the hope of showing how a multi-cultural nation can live in harmony. If we can keep that vision alive while staying in touch with the uncomfortable reality revealed in your photo here, then positive energy still exists. May peace prevail on earth!
    -- Rev. Heng Sure

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    1. Thanks Reverend for your insightful sharing. Actually the photograph was more related to what you have mentioned than you think, it was taken not too far from what actually took place: the May 13 incident.
      Thanks for your well wishes !! We sure need hope and we need to move toward the brighter future,

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  8. Lemme guess.. sattuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!! hahaha.. although this won't be right in East Malaysia...

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  9. While i understand what you're trying to say with this photo, i do think that your purpose misrepresents what is actually happening.

    Say if those 3 guys are all chinese, or all malay or indian -- it's still likely that they will be standing apart. They certainly won't be standing closer, or hugging or singing songs of kumbayah while waiting for whatever they are waiting for.

    The fact that you (and others) see this photo for what you intended is more a statement of the times and how racially polarized society has become. You see what you believe, so to speak. If you feel sensitive about race and religion, then you will see race and religious issues everywhere, even when in reality they do not exist.

    To an extent, this has been the greatest failing of the Malaysian Government since our independence -- the inability to truly assimilate the population into a homogenous unit. We still identify ourselves by our races first, rather than as Malaysians first.

    For me, in this photo, i just saw three guys standing together waiting for something. But almost immediately, i knew what you were trying to convey, especially upon reading the caption.

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    1. Hello Aizuddin,
      I do believe that the photograph is open for interpretations, and there is no right and wrong in determining the "singular" message that it brings. Yes, I chose to see it in certain ways, and of course I present it in the way I saw it through the photograph.
      Well, to make things clear, I do see that racism exists in this country, whether to what extent, is questionable, but you cannot deny the truth: why are there Religion based schools? Why are there Racial based schools? Why are the political parties based on and driven by racial segregation and religion ambitions?
      As much as I want to pretend everything is sunny up and flowery, we know something is wrong.
      You were right: greatest failure of the government is unity between races, but its a work in progress. This photograph is my way of saying there is more work to be done.

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    2. I don't deny the truth. Racial polarization is a huge problem. The fact that we see the photo for what you meant, proves it.

      My comment was not meant to be a criticism. But wouldn't it have been awesome if we (all of us) saw the photo for exactly what it was -- 3 guys standing there waiting for something. It would have been terribly boring and an utter failure of a photograph, but it would have meant we have matured as a people.

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    3. For the sake of our beloved country, lets hope we are moving toward that direction !

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  10. All 3 in deep shit, late for work due to Euro 12 matches.

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    1. LOL !! That was an unsuspected way of seeing the photo

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  11. Come on guys, stop beating round the bush! The left and right guys are STRAIGHT, the middle NOT. Shocking but true..this is very common in Malaysia!

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    1. Interesting observation, but thats not what I intended to say in my photo. Nonetheless, as I mentioned in my earlier comments it is open to interpretation.

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  12. Robin, what i see is not just the racism problem in different type people also the cleanness of the country that everyone is ignored.

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    1. Is this Frankie or Kay Hong? haha. Yes, cleanliness is also a concern !

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  13. Hi Robin,
    I'm a relatively new follower of yours and really enjoy your daily posts and photos. I'm so glad to have come across you. I hope you had a wonderful break and enjoyed the good company of your Mom.

    When I saw this photo today I was instantly taken back to a photo I took a few weeks back, here, in Tacoma, Washington. I wanted to start a project about how we all seem to be so close, sharing so many commonalities and yet be so distant from each other. Whether it's iPods, books or phones, whatever distraction there is we'll seem to find it rather than bridging the gap between each other and saying hi, I see you. I would like for it to be different, but it seems to be the way for now. Here's the image I took. I'm not sure of course if this is what you had in mind, but I thought I would take a shot. Take care, glad you're back.
    Tom Collins
    http://www.tomcollinsphotography.com/BlackandWhiteandStreet/Street/i-StMfmq4/0/L/20120406-P4060025-Edit-L.jpg

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    1. Hello Tom,
      Thanks so much for your compliments, and really appreciate your kind comments !!
      I must say, wow, that is such a great theme to work with, not only it is thought-provoking but it questions human interaction in so many levels.
      However, it was not what I had in mind (though I see strong resemblance in what we saw when we took the photos)
      Malaysia has racism issues, and in my photo, there were three people of different races. And the space that separates them should be able to fill in the rest of the blanks.
      But hey, now that you have described your project you are about to start, you got me thinking even more and deeper into the photograph I just took !! Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  14. Hey Robin, good take! The moment I saw this picture and it's title, it really hits the mark.
    I feel the same sentiments of what you are trying to say in this picture.

    I guess many of us malaysians are aware of our current social issues but I guess there is still hope........

    Cheers....

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    1. Thanks Ray. I agree with you, there is still HOPE.

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  15. Hello Robin,
    Great images for the mind to ponder "why it still happen in Malaysia?"
    Chinese, Indian, Malay - nowadays there are more mixed marriages in Malaysia and I really HOPE one day the younger generation will close the gap between races and status.
    BTW I am a mixture of Melanau and Chinese. I am looked like Chinese but act like Melanau. Chinese folks talk to me in Chinese language and I answer them in Malay. Malaysia is really unique!
    Have a great evening.
    Happy Shooting.
    John Ari Ragai

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    1. Same here John, really hope the generation will close the gap between the differences. We need to start behaving like a country !!

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  16. I find Malaysia beautiful *because* it is diverse. Even if this is forced upon people, and your photo shows that. Still love it. Your photo as well as Malaysia.

    I've been lucky to be in your country during the Merdeka, and everything and everyone was happy - that was cool and impressive, still get goose bumps thinking of it.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

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    1. Thanks Wolfgang !!
      Merdeka celebration is a great time to visit Malaysia, plenty of cultural and traditional events happening all around the week!

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  17. Robin,

    I so agree, especially with your "screw the highlights" comment. It is remarkable to me how the highlight police come out in droves to trash otherwise wonderful compositions full of soul and story just becaus there's an insignificant "blown highlight" on a shirt sleeve or sidewalk. I think this type of technical tyranny come from folks who have more technical pride than artistic ability.

    Anyway, thanks for your great blog. I got the OMD based partly on your excellent review, and enjoy following your blog.

    Cheers,
    JoeSchmoe

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    1. Hey JoeSchmoe,
      Thanks so much for agreeing, you were right, the technical tyranny (what a way to describe it, but nice !!) can get rather unnecessary at times !!
      Glad to know that you have the OMD, enjoy shooting with it.

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  18. great photo and your blog title says it all ... some real "space" in between these 3 different cultures trying to live in the same space. btw, I'm originally from the Philippines and we have a different "space" among the people dictated by how much you make.

    oh, it's my first time commenting here, too! great site :)

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