I was in China with my mom for the past ten days. Before I left, I loosely fathomed a postcard project for comic Lorna/Affect to work on and complete while abroad. I bought my first postcards at Hong Kong’s highest point, Victoria Peak, on Day 2. It was my birthday.
I like getting postcards while I travel. They’re nice visual summaries. They take off some of the pressure I feel to document everything. I can enjoy experiencing a new place first hand and not through a lens.
If I had started writing the postcards right away, or even the next day, or had kept a daily journal, I may have written about how I realized/remembered my fear of heights just a few moments before we took the ascending tram ride through the clouds and mountains towards the peak. I may have drawn a picture of myself with my fear personified as a little buddy on my shoulder. I may have given it a word balloon: “Don’t look down.” I may have drawn a worried bead of sweat dripping off my temple.
Here are a few of my shots from Victoria Peak.
I carried those postcards around with me for five days before I started writing on them. I used that time to think about what my Postcard Project was going to do.
I found more postcards at the Maritime Museum in Macau a few days after Victoria Peak. I liked them too much to send. I got really protective over them. (They’re signed as ilustracao de Gemeo luis 96.)
When I showed my brother these postcards he said that I could have sent them to myself. Brilliant. That’d be a different project, though, which is prob why I just kept them safe and went on looking for other postcards to doodle on send to other people.
I decided on a few conventions for the Postcard Project: (1) my drawings of Chinese words/phrases/characters, (2) a doodle or live sketch of a topical noun I saw on the trip, and (3) written commentary narrating or supplemental to elements (1) and (2).
I ended up with 28 attempts, all completed in the last few days of the trip. Though I tried to create a system or thought process for the narrative, the factors were too numerous to wade through until I was able to layout a storyboard in the airport hotel the final day.
I had been numbering them as I completed them, but shuffled them around some more once I could see the bigger picture. I didn’t know how the story would end until I was packed to head home.
Each postcard has many elements, all dependent on each other in shifting degrees. Do I focus on the personal narrative, the spontaneous revolution, the audience (the person I’m sending the card to), the narrative context at various degrees (before, during, and after split up in different postcards to different people; how to keep the elements happy by themselves while also something great when together).
When I began the project, I knew our time (the postcards and mine) was fleeting, so I had prepared myself for completion in the incomplete; the project is whole in its embracing of rough edges, the temporal, gesture and implication.
I sent them off from Hong Kong the morning of my flight back to the US. Even though I had readied myself, I miss them. It’s also nice to have their fate out of my hands. I took pictures of them, and made sure to spend some time rereading their final sequence and flipping through them, revisiting the voice and aesthetic. Accepting where they landed.
Here are a few:
I hope my writing on the cards is neat enough. I’d like to make them into a tangible zine, perhaps with my photos or digital drawings as the covers. Oooooo what if I put hidden pictures in the art? I could redraw and tidy up the text side. Write to the people who I somehow missed on my list or thought about too later.
I think about Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine epistolary, and I’m excited about this genre. The personal public, the accidental voyeur. Distance. Memory.
Maybe it’d behoove me to limit my audience. Instead of sending 28 postcards to 28 people, sending 28 postcards to two different people. It could be a study/exploration of Comic Lorna’s relationship with these people. Maybe I don’t need to travel to write this. Maybe it’s a good reason to get away.
Stay tuned for more arting about my China trip. If you’re in the LA area, cruise to the closing reception of my solo show in Little Tokyo:
You Can Find Me…