Seeking the Spirits and Memories of Hawaii on Medium Format Film

Taking a literal and figurative macro lens to rare landscapes to summon the memories held within

Seeking the Spirits and Memories of Hawaii on Medium Format Film

Author

Brendan George Ko

Photographer

Brendan George Ko

Camera

Mamiya 7, Mamiya RZ67

Film

Kodak Portra 160

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Brendan George Ko is an interdisciplinary artist living between Maui, Hawai’i and Toronto, Canada (both pictured below) and working primarily in photography, video, sound, installation, and oral tradition.

There is a spirit in the landscape that possesses us, and though we may leave the land behind that spirit will always follow. This is something I learned during my formative years living in rural New Mexico, through the stories we shared. From ancient times of the Navajo and Hopi people to a more modern era, of crime, miracles, unexplainable phenomena, and shapeshifting beasts that roam the high desert, there is an inseparable memory attached to the land.

As time passes these stories turn to myth. And though new memories occur and often replace the past, they add to the growing history indexical to the land.

It was during those years I experienced the power in oral tradition that gave the landscape its meaning and presence. Though I have long since left the desert of New Mexico, I carry the spirit of its storytelling and land-specific memory in my practice today.

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For the past five years I have been gathering narrative and perspective of the landscape that is the Hawaiian archipelago. These stories range from the ecology of the islands to its myth and original culture, its history and politics. It has taken me on a journey that has completely changed the way I see and feel the landscape.

Before there was an image, now there are layers upon layers of memories that each come with their own spirits. The land feels haunted, and when I make the decision to capture it, it is the spirit I seek to invoke with its presentation.

Like the stories I heard countless times in Gallup, NM, it isn’t about truth, nor is it about accuracy, it is about carrying the spirit of the memory.

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"My photographs aren’t about realism and precision, but manipulating the medium in order to summon the spirits captured within."

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Published 03-19-2019

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