In Conversation with MM Yu

Many people see images as only to please. What part do you think photography plays in the big picture of conservation and sustainability?
MM: I see photography as preserving what may be gone tomorrow. In capturing that moment, a photograph is able to monumentalize an image before it degenerates and it is also, at the same time, a forewarning of what is happening.

How have overproduction and overconsumption affected you personally in your everyday life?
MM: We have to be more mindful in our actions to alleviate our current situation. We continuously accumulate to fulfil our wants and alter our needs and this has led to unsettling consequences.

Your images don’t only show how plastic and waste is polluting the earth but also show a sense of beauty in it all. Do you find it immoral to find beauty in the things that are inexcusably ruining our world?
MM: Yes it is in a way contradictory in perception but I hope that through the irony it will still raise awareness.

Buy One Take One, 2011 from the series Untitled Landscape © MM Yu

Your photographs give us a little more insight into the human condition. Could you tell us a little more about what you wish to convey about society through your photography?
MM: Untitled Landscape is my continuous attempt to document and archive images of the city, how it is changing and disintegrating to adapt to our human needs.

Has photography impacted your view of our world?
MM: Yes it plays a significant role and even without the use of words it reaches to a wide audience universally, inspiring, provoking and inciting change.

Do you think architecture and the failure to design cities well has an impact on our psychological wellbeing?
MM: Historic architecture is ceaselessly being destroyed; parks are being cemented to yield into privatisation, malls, and construction into high-rise buildings or new condominiums. Heavily occupying more and more space as it becomes disproportionate for the majority.

Your works are centered on Manila. Could you tell us more about your relationship with your city?
MM: My photos primarily rely on chance. It is integrated with my daily routine. It is always unplanned and I just always have my camera with me. I want to show a survey of the city and the photos I have taken over the years have been consolidated into several series—making an archive of Manila’s topography.

Occupy, 2015 from the series Untitled Landscape © MM Yu

In one of your previous projects, you experimented with random double exposures on film. Could you tell us more about your process in that series of works and how you came up with them?
MM: I would use a roll of film and shoot places and objects that I can associate with my memories that reminds me of the past and rewind the film back and reuse it again like new, multi-exposing everyday images as it happens and becoming like a journal. The process was like feeding my memories into a machine (the camera) and it would sequence the images randomly by chance resulting in layered collaged images into my photo-biography.

The works in your exhibitions are very tactile. Why did you decide to present them in that way?
MM: I want the subjects to be depicted as how I see the image when I took the photo. Now that photos are taken instantly, it is my attempt to bring the outside and occupy a space and momentary hold a longer presence in a room.

About In Conversation : SIPF Open Call Artists
The 6th Portfolio Open Call instalment of SIPF has brought in a wide range of artists
whose themes range from human impact on our ever changing environment to tales of loss and longing. The photographers chosen for these conversations have displayed an ability to convey profound and complex emotions through their series of images, bringing us into an immersive experience that is unique to each artist. In this series of interviews, we delve deeper into why these photographers do what they do, taking a look at the intimate and personal stories behind each of their projects.

This series of interviews can be found in DECK Journal of Photography #01.