My grandfather, Chan Kwock Kun, in his home (left) and my grandmother, Toh Kuan Yew, in her home (right), May 2014.
My grandfather's hand, left, and my grandmother's hand, right, both in their own home, in May 2014.
My grandfather's eye, left, and my grandmother's eye, right, both in their own home, in May 2014.
My grandfather in his room, left, and my grandmother in her room, right, both in their own home, in May 2014.
My grandfather, left, and my grandmother, right, both looking at me through a mirror in their own home, in May 2014.
It was such a strange feeling.
They didn't understand what I was doing,
they couldn't understand what I was doing.
Yet never once did they protest
each time I triggered for a moment to be frozen.
Perhaps all they yearned for was my presence;
Even if my form had to come
hiding behind that cold, black box.
Each time I held the camera in front of my eye,
I am brought so close to them.
Yet it is this very thing that averts my gaze upon their eyes.
I am so close.
Yet I am barely there.
One day my heart could bear to do this no longer.
With every click of the shutter
I felt like I was destroying their souls.
Was I merely making use of them for the completion of my project?
Hence the only thing I found right to do
was to avert my gaze
Toward the tangible things,
Things I know are as cold as stone, without heart,
These are the things that will forever encapsulate
the essence of Grandpa and Grandma.
My grandfather's wardrobe, left, and my grandmother's wardrober, right, in
My grandfather's glasses, left, and my grandmother's glasses, right, in May 2014.
My grandfather's lottery tickets, left, and my grandmother's expenditure record, right, in June 2014.
My grandfather's refrigerator, left, and my grandmother's refrigerator, right, in June 2014.
Project Summary (3):
Grandpa lives with my mother, his first child. That means Grandpa lives with me. Grandpa was extremely fit and healthy up until he was 82 years old. He would wake up at 6 a.m. every morning for a morning jog. He used to take care of the garden and feed the fish every day. He is a trained contractor, so he fixed leaks in the house. Every Saturday he would dress up nicely and head to Chinatown. He would visit KTVs and hang out with friends. He has an amazing voice and sings wonderfully. He is a clever man who speaks English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, and Malay. To me, that's very impressive. He enjoys beer and whiskey very much.
He has always been a man of few words. I think he likes it when I sit quietly by his bed making no noise. He stares into space while I sit by him. Sometimes I try too hard to make conversation, afraid that he may be bored. He would show signs of frustration because he doesn't like noise, so I remain quiet.
I think I am very much like Grandpa.
Grandma was a seamstress and she used to sew dresses for me. As I grew older, I asked her to impart her skills to me. She tells me not to waste my time as sewing clothes from scratch is time-consuming and tough. She says now you can buy clothes for a couple of dollars. Grandma has her own house. She used to live with my youngest uncle, her third child. She only stayed there on weekdays. They have two young kids and Grandma took great care of them. Both of them are very attached to her. She always takes care of her grandchildren in the first few years of their lives. We can speak fluent Cantonese because of her. Cantonese is the only language she speaks.
Grandma is now 79.
Now that the two kids are older, she lives with her second child—my second uncle and his family. She stays there only on weekdays. She insists on going home on weekends, because she enjoys her solitary moments a lot.