《在咖啡冷掉之前》川口俊和

This is part of a new series of writings that I’m planning to do, which is to write my thoughts after reading a book. For books in Mandarin, I will write my thoughts in Mandarin. For books in English, I will write my thoughts in English. Apologise for any inconvenience caused.

My Page在咖啡冷掉之前,你最想回到过去的那一段时光,你最想遇见过去的哪一个人呢?

点击阅读全文。谢谢。

Plastikophobia

Noun / Extreme fear of or aversion to the use of plastic.

This was the title of the project, the theme of the exhibition. Sponsored by High Commission of Canada and City Developments Limited, Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong teamed up with Laura Francois and Imaginator Studio to create this art installation in conjunction of Singapore’s Year Toward Zero Waste.

Benjamin Von Wong with Plastikophobia Art Installation

I got to know about Benjamin’s work few years back, I remembered the first image that caught my attention was “Salvation”, the picture with a tattooed man breathing fire out of his mouth. Since then, I started to follow his work. The storm chasing series was refreshing to me, and then followed by a series of environment related project, such as Shark Shepherd, Mad Max meets Trump’s America, Mermaids Hate Plastic, Rethink Recycle Revive, Truckload of Plastics, and most recently, Strawpocalypse.

Globally, less than 10% of plastics are recycled.

Next, Plastikophobia. When I found out that Benjamin will be in Singapore to carry out his next project and requires volunteers to help out, I signed myself up to be one of the volunteers in bringing this project to life. After a few communications and simple briefing sessions through Facebook group, the storyboard was ready and it’s time to kickstart. The whole project was divided into a few phases: plastic cups collection, plastic cups cleaning, structure and wooden frame fabrication, installation of plastic cups on the structure and installation of lightings. I was involved in the plastic cups cleaning and installation phase for most. It has been an intense work and race against the time to ensure everything will be ready for the launch on 7 March 2019.

Cup collections started earlier by other volunteers, searching through food courts and eateries. We managed to get some help from local authorities and food courts management. There were of course push-backs from people to assist in providing or allowing us to collect the cups. Nevertheless, we managed to get all the cups we needed to build the installation. Altogether we have collected 18,000 cups from 26 different food courts.

Next, we brought the dirty cups back to workshop at Bukit Batok and had them cleaned and rinsed. Meanwhile, Benjamin and Joshua Goh from Imaginator Studio worked on the final design of the installation. Cups were all cleaned in two days after the massive effort by all volunteers.

I wasn’t involved in the next phase where the design was finalised and wooden frames were constructed to house the cups. The general concept was to create a cavern that will lead you in and give you a sense of impact that you are being crushed by the plastic cups. Hence, structures were made in various size and width in order to provide the sense of compression.

Once the structures were done, cups started to be glued on top of it. When the base layer was done, the structures were transported to Sustainable Singapore Gallery at Marina Barrage for final installation and completion.

During this phase, I was managed to join back the team and continued on to complete the whole art installation. This includes sticking additional layers of cups on top of the base layer to create volume, routing the LED lights and some final adjustment to the whole art installation. After much sweat, blood and tears, finally the installation was completed on 3 March 2019 and the promo shoot was able to be scheduled and done on the next day. The official opening was held on 7 March 2019, hence there were a few days to run some final checks on the lightings and structures.

There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the whole span of project. There were times when we were off schedule and felt panic, there were times when we had so much fun chatting and discussing on the project concept, and there were times when things just went wrong and everyone started to pull whatever resources they have in order to get things moving again. It’s not an easy task to be commissioned for a photography and art assignment like this, and Benjamin has managed to keep his coolness and delivered the final result.

Over 1,500 cups were used in a day at a food court. More than half of them were not even take-aways.

That’s the statistic. Personally I tried not to order drinks outside, as I know most of the time they will serve you with single-use plastic cups. Most of the time I will just order hot drinks instead. Hence, this project really resonates with me and I really hope that the message we are trying to bring across is clear. One of the struggle we talked about during the project was that “educational” exhibition will be too boring, that’s the reason why Benjamin is fusing art into his message. However, we do know that it might dilute the true message behind.

“It’s always a struggle to strike the balance, and sadly there isn’t an answer to that at the moment.” Benjamin shared his thought during our final meet up which celebrates the completion of the project. But that doesn’t stop him from trying and creating more arts and photographs. Hopefully, one day people will understand the effort he has put in and appreciate it. “When you really think about it, it’s funny how we can turn such deadly things into something so beautiful. How ironic it is. Hopefully viewers can understand the message behind and try to change their behaviour little by little.”

Diving in the plastic cavern… (C) Benjamin Von Wong

It was a really fascinating experience for me to be part of this project, and I do learned a lot throughout the process. I feel honoured to be able to be part of the volunteers and made this happened. Hopefully this project will be able to raise awareness on the issues of over reliance on single-use plastic in our current world. If you want to know more about this project and take a look at the art installation itself, feel free to make your way to Sustainable Singapore Gallery, Marina Barrage, Singapore. I hope you will enjoy the Plastikophobia installation together with exhibition of other works from Benjamin within the gallery. The exhibition will run from 7 March 2019 until 18 April 2019, admission is free.

Remarks: Some photos are not taken by me and was shared through Facebook and Benjamin’s website by other volunteers. More photos can be found from the album below. Kindly note that photos are not for commercial use and subject to Terms of Use by vonwong.com.

Photo Album: Plastikophobia

《日本一周》尤文瀚

This is part of a new series of writings that I’m planning to do, which is to write my thoughts after reading a book. For books in Mandarin, I will write my thoughts in Mandarin. For books in English, I will write my thoughts in English. Apologise for any inconvenience caused.

为了一个梦想,你愿意付出多少的努力,多少的牺牲?
为了一个愿望,你愿意翻越多少座高山,多少片平原?

从单纯的想旅行日本,到下定决心用单车环绕日本一周,文瀚并没有万全的计划,但是他还是勇敢的踏出了第一步,后来的事再慢慢烦恼与安排就好了。也许当时他抱着的,是“有些事现在不做,一辈子都不会做了”的想法与决心,所以才会来到日本,圆了他生命中的一个梦想吧?

这本书讲述的,是他骑着那菜篮脚踏车,从东京出发北上北海道,然后南下九州,最后再回到东京的历程。当中遇到了不少的惊险与困难,像是福岛核电站事故,台风,迷路,爆胎等。每天骑行上百公里,日晒雨淋,晚上还得窝在帐篷里在街头露宿,到底为了什么?这也许是许多人无法理解的地方。

看完这本后,我似乎有了些许的了解。这趟旅行本身,仿佛就像是人生的缩影一样。当中有着悲欢与离合,有着痛苦与挣扎,有着迷失与孤独,有着失望与绝望,但也有着希望与圆满。骑行确实辛苦,但是过程中文瀚却得到了许多人的帮助与鼓励。无论是简单的一句“加油”,一罐热咖啡,又或是一段闲聊,他们都一点一滴的构筑起一段仅属于文瀚的故事,成为他独一无二的旅行经历。这些看似微不足道的小温暖,想必将来还是会在某天想起来时温暖着文瀚的心房吧?

也许人生也不过如此。不是常常有人把人生比喻成一段旅程吗?人生这趟旅程,一样无法完美的安排,但是还是得硬着头皮继续往前。不是所有人都能理解你的旅程的意义,也只有你自己会知道当中的酸甜苦辣。偶尔会遇上挫折,偶尔会遇上贵人,偶尔会想流一下眼泪,偶尔会想停下来歇一歇。文瀚的日本一周,让我看见了人的一生,有一种很不可思议的感觉。

Grass is greener on the other side

“I feel happy for you for being able to be with someone you love, get married, and live happily ever after.” Said by someone who is single.
“You know what? I envied you for being single and live the life freely as you want!” Replied by someone who is married.

More often than not, we will come across conversation like this, or similar to this. As the old saying goes, “Grass is greener on the other side”, we will always admire what others have and forgot to appreciate what we owned. Same goes to life, same goes to everything else. Friends, family, job, wealth, health, job, gadgets… you name it.

I wonder why? Is it because we always compare ourselves with others in order to benchmark and see if we are living our life well? Is it because we feel insecure, we feel lost, hence we need to see what others do in order to guide ourselves through? Is it because we are not happy with what we have at the moment, hence we want to search for an answer from people around us? Or is it we simply don’t know how to appreciate what we have?

I’m not a saint. I do always ponder about why others are “better” than me in this and that, I do always admire how others live their life, I am guilty as well on this regards. But… what’s next? I think the attitude towards how you are going to react to this is more important. Are you going to just sit there and “admire” forever? Are you going to just complaint about why your life is not as good? Or are you going to do something about it?

It’s something that I’m trying to learn as well at the moment, and hopefully master it in the future. Perhaps first off I need to learn to appreciate more on what I have, this is certainly something that I’m lacking on. Next, if what I have is really not enough, then I’ll need to take some action to make things better. I’m not too worry on this, as I have always been quite adaptive and work hard for things I wanted.

Learn to appreciate, do more and complaint less… perhaps this may not be the answer to all, but this is probably what I’m going to practice and learn for the days to come. Grass may not always be greener on the other side.

Perhaps people has stopped thinking…


Netflix has released a new series titled “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”. Marie Kondo is well known for her methodology in tidying up spaces, and she has been quite famous in the East with social media presence and her book titled “The life-changing magic of tidying up”. This series has brought her fame to the Western world, and of course, one can expect a whole lot of buzz about her recently.

There were those who thank her as they regained their life by tidying up their home using the KonMari method. And there were those who cast doubt on her and gave their opinion about her method. Well, I’m not exactly a fan of her, though I do get to know about her technique quite awhile ago. Some of them were applied in my life and I found them to be useful, and my quality of life has improved because of that. Less clutter, less junk at home, leading to a better living environment. What’s not great about it?

Well, there are those who are skeptical about her method, and I feel that it’s okay to disagree on her method. For me, when I was learning her method, I try to take in everything taught by her, and then I’ll start to think and make sense of them, and I’ll interpret them and apply them in a way that works for me. I won’t follow everything blindly. The same goes to other knowledge and learnings, such as photography skills.

The common responds I saw online are those who dismissed the method all together without even trying to understand further, or even giving it a try. And there are those who said her method is toxically encouraging people to throw away stuffs, hence creating more problems than solving. This is where I started to have doubt on whether people do think about something while they are learning them?

Take my case for example, when I tidied stuff from my home and plan to get rid of them, the first thing that came to my mind was whether these items are of any use for others? Some items can actually be sold through channels like ebay or any other local forums, while some items I will post on my social platform and ask if any of my friends actually need it, if yes I will just gave it to them. Lastly, I’ll look for channels where I can actually donate the items to, especially for items such as clothings that can still be used. A lot of time, only few items will end up in the dustbin.

If you only watched the first episode of the series and start commenting… well I guess it just shows how shallow your thinking could be. I’m not defending the KonMari method or whatsoever, I just find these comments… a little stupid. Yes it seems to shown that people are just throwing away stuff in the video, but if you can’t make sense out of information you received, you probably can’t make sense in your comment either. The same goes to many other incidents or topics that has been discussed over the internet lately.

I’m not the smartest people in the world, so above is just my opinion and thoughts. Well, I could be wrong, but it’s always good to have thoughtful exchange of opinions which will spark thinking and learning, rather than just slamming on social media for the likes and shares. Till then.