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World of One: Painful Pleasures | Johnny Tang Photo

World of One: Painful Pleasures

Painful Pleasures

Painful Pleasures (from the series World of One)

2013
Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives
24″ x 39 3/16″ inches | edition of 5

 

For months now, the idea for this picture has been dancing around my brain chamber, taking up space like a chubby elephant. However, since the level of snow in Boston has pretty much been shit for most of the season, I’ve found myself sitting on my hands for most of this winter, waiting for it to either start snowing or get warmer so I could move onto other ideas. Earlier this month, my family started planning our annual Tang Family Vacation Expo. This year we decided to go up to Lincoln New Hampshire, for a weekend of skiing/snowboarding and 6 – 8 hours of me sliding on my face. At the time of planning this trip, it looked like it wasn’t going to snow anymore this year, so I decided that I might as well head north to where the snow was guaranteed. We had planned our trip for this past weekend to coincide with the Lunar New Year (yay fireworks!), and, just as we were leaving town, low and behold, my prayers were answered! As I was leaving Boston in search of pristine fields of snow, the second biggest snowstorm of a decade comes rolling into town. I felt silly.

This was by far the most painful shoot I’ve ever done. The snow up that dropped in New Hampshire over the weekend was of the dry, light, and fluffy variety, which makes it absolutely terrible for making snowballs. I circumvented this problem by making the snowballs with my bare hands, using my body heat to melt a bit of the snow and to create enough moisture to make the snow adhere to itself. Since I was using my family as the crew on this shoot, I also had to deal with my mom and her safety concerns, as well as my dad and his obliviousness to what we were doing. The moment that sums up this experience for me is when my dad asked me, “But how are you going to hit yourself? There’s nothing there!”

“Magic Dad, magic.”

While I would have preferred to shoot more frames for this image (I usually shoot at least 5 rolls), after shooting only 3 rolls, my cold resistance had reached its limit. While I don’t usually need 500 frames to make a World of One, shooting more will provide me with more options, and will usually improve the quality of the work. That being said, Painful Pleasures actually ended up being a simpler version of what I originally had in mind. Maybe if I get lucky I’ll have a chance to make another snow picture before the winter fades away.

Painful Pleasures is dedicated to my high school English/Film teacher, Mr. Brown. I learned more about art in the year I spent in his class than 3 years of college. I will always remember him teaching us that “All Truths are paradoxical,” and “The things that make us laugh, also make us cry.”

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