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World of One: Hopeful Despair | Johnny Tang Photo

World of One: Hopeful Despair

World of One: Hopeful Despair

Hopeful Despair (from the series World of One)

2013
Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives
24″ x 42″ inches | edition of 5

 

“Looks like you’re waiting for something to fall out of the sky…like your future!” – Martin Bell

Hopeful Despair is the twelfth image I made in 2013 for the World of One series, thereby completing my goal of making one World of One image a month for the year. This means that in 2013 I made more World of One pictures than I did in any previous year. Although, at times, focusing all my energy on one project has been stifling, I have enjoyed the continuing challenge of pushing my creativity and finding different approaches to this subject matter. In 2014 I’m hoping to make even more World of One pictures, and, with some luck, even surpass my 2013 achievements.

Like many of the images in this body of work, the idea for this picture was marinating in my brain pan for months before I ever got around to shooting it. While the photo was shot around Thanksgiving, December proved to be an insanely busy month for me. Between work picking up at both my internships and a family vacation around Christmas time, I had little time to devote to my craft.

Readers who have been following this body of work over the years may have noticed that the style of the composition in Hopeful Despair is similar to the composition in some of my previous images, such as Focus, and Invictus. The positions of the black and white figures in Hopeful Despair, however, have been inverted from the positions in those older compositions. This time the dark suit is in the center, surrounded by a crowd of white-suited figures.

As the title of the image implies, the central themes I wanted to express in the making of this picture were that of hope and despair. Despite the overwhelming representation of despair (that is, the figures in white) in the image, I believe the real focus of the picture is that of hope (that is, the sole figure in black). I chose to photograph the image in this fashion in part because my personality tends to lean towards pessimism, but also because I think it more accurately illustrates my personal experiences with finding hope. In my life, I often can’t see hope until I’ve been totally overwhelmed, and feel like I’ve hit rock bottom. It is only then that those elusive rays of hope become the most valuable.

Special thanks to Coco Philly Kevin Lim for assisting me with this shoot on such a blisteringly cold day!!!

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