Cissi Tsang
Entry #2


Last night, I was treated to some thunder and lightning courtesy of the mountain gods.

I remarked to myself how quickly and dramatically the weather changed. A few hours before, the sun was out in full blast and the sky was a gorgeous blue  and now the sky was an angry grey, and rain danced over the rocks and trees. It was an unpredictable change.

Change. The concept of change has long vexed and fascinated humans. There have been whole books  I daresay even whole belief systems  centred on this very concept. This is because change can be so inexplicable and violent, to the point where it makes us question our identity and the point of our existence.

We like to think that we are the masters of our lives. When people talk about self-empowerment, one of the correlating themes is control. ‘Take control of your life!’ is a oft-spoken slogan.

The slogan is true, to an extent. We have control over some elements of our lives  for instance, we have control over our responses to situations, and we have control over some of our choices. People who feel like they have no control over their lives tend to live chaotically because they are always reacting, and can’t move forward because of a constant siege mentality. You can’t build something if you are constantly fighting.

However, we don’t have full control over every aspect of our lives. We don’t have control over large-scale political and economic events, we don’t have control over the weather, we don’t have control over other people’s actions and responses. Hence why change can leave people shaken  it sharply reminds us that life is not always in our control. We don’t always get to dictate the terms and conditions of our lives. How we approach change is very important. For some people, the instinct is to reject change. Change is dangerous because it upsets the familiar. The familiar is safe and predictable, because the parameters are clearly delineated.

The problem with the above mentality is that change happens regardless. Change is a neutral agent. It just is. It doesn’t care about how you feel, or whether you are ready or what your circumstances are at the moment. Change is life, because life is in constant flux, and events will keep moving – with or without you.

Therefore, it is better to adapt to change when it occurs. Change can result in positive outcomes, even though the immediate situation is difficult. Or, better yet  when possible, become the agent of change. Initiate change, and change becomes your partner and friend.

Artists are especially sensitive to sudden changes. I often try to initiate change. I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities.

On a practice level, I constantly look for ways to improve my practice. New techniques and new perspectives can be gained from the most unexpected places. It could be a chance remark, it could be from viewing other artist’s works, it could be from reading articles and books. It could be the way light shimmers on the water, it could be the way a tree has grown. It could be from the shape of a boulder.

In my first blog, I mentioned that my practice has changed drastically over the past 13 months. A lot of this change was self-initiated, because I wanted to find methods of articulating my concepts.

The first two years of my practice was strictly in photography, where I explored the use of light and landscapes. That in itself was a change, because I was transitioning away from being a live music photographer. Towards the second year of my practice, I began to find straight photography restrictive  I wanted something more interactive.

Thus began my major change in artistic direction.Was it easy? No  I remember hitting many dead ends. Or not quite knowing where to search for information. I remember it being frightening at some points, because I was entering territory that no-one in my immediate circle understood. I was moving rapidly towards the digital; they were happily ensconced in the analogue. Dialogue was difficult because essentially we were speaking in different languages.

One thing I quickly learnt about change  it is isolating. By moving away from the familiar, the familiar paradoxically becomes alien.

Another thing I learnt about change  the painfulness that is uncertainty. Questions kept dancing in my head. Is my practice evolving enough to meet my needs? Am I going too far and getting lost in the esoteric world of coding and programming? Am I good enough to do what I want?

Then I remembered some great advice I received from Richard Goodwin: Put everything you have into your art.

So I did, and here I am.

After a week at Bogong, I feel my practice changing yet again. Subtle, but the change is there. I had wanted to incorporate more field recordings into my work, and I’ve had lots of opportunities this week to give my Zoom H1 a good workout. I’ve found myself moving more towards video installation work.

Sometimes change simply comes from being.