By Earl Foster,2014-02-13 10:05
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Project B CA01

    50694382 “701”

    You’ve brought up a good question in your artist statement. Yes, I agree that a place is often a mobile entity, always in the process of changing and becoming, resisting the assumption that a place has static, unchangeable qualities. The closure of your work, however, has not added much to this piece of insight.

    You are sensitive to the variety of details and how each kind functions.

    You’ve also found an effective story framework to contain your descriptive details, especially to turn the activity of observation and the collection of details into the work itself.

    In terms of opening your readers’ eyes, I find your portrait a bit too generic. It looks like the details can apply to just any other buses. This may mean that you have not found a way to look differently enough to illuminate the place. You want to have a stronger de-familiarization strategy, either during your research or in the organization of the final writing. Here and there, you bring in your own “philosophical” generalization of human nature: I believe

    this is simply making the piece more generic. (See some of the lines I have underlined.) We want to see you see something really unique, and come up with new insights.

    You have good writing skills. This time, the tendency to make philosophical generalization has sacrificed the craftsmanship for details and the joy of discovery via observation. The photos and drawings, on the other hand, are far more interesting to me than your writing. The theme of the book Role is

    cliché. It does not help to open up our understanding of the concrete city space in which we live. Hope this problem will be fixed in Project D.


You’ve picked an interesting place – I suppose you’re doing a portrait of

    Langham Place, right?

Project B CA01

Some general observation that sets up the building’s power in re-defining the

    district< Other than some description of what’s in there, the piece does not show your rigor in seeing. My impression is that you were only taking a detached look from afar, whereas the multiple trip assignment expected you to look closely and intensely, to exercise the power of seeing, and to see differently in order to write differently for your reader.

    In relation to the above problems, you need to develop a strong sense of yourself as a writer writing to enrich your readers’ experience. Somehow, I feel that you’re still writing like doing a composition to fulfill somebody else’s request. As a creative writer, you need to constantly ask yourself: how does my writing open up my readers’ view? What is it (about this place) that an ordinary reader have not noticed that s/he should read my work because I see better and see differently? A reader probably would not want to spend time reading something that does not tell him/her anything that s/he doesn’t

    already know.

    Because the details are not rich enough, the social cultural questions you’ve asked are also lacking in strength.

    Note also the many phrases I’ve underlined in your piece. They are vague and general expressions that don’t tell me anything and they need to be unpacked (or broken down). “Show-not-tell” principle is badly in need. Don’t’ draw

    the conclusion for your reader (like something is noble , or charming<). Give us the details so that we draw that conclusion ourselves.

    Of all the problems, the main one remains: you need to train yourself to see differently. You need to spend more time discovering your own insight in the final assignment.

50809675 我們的一次通話記錄

    I believe you have taken up an extremely challenging task of portraying the state of presence of a virtual space of a mind or a few minds wandering

    between the present and the past.

Project B CA01

    Even if that is your objective, you have, as a matter of fact, given up the chance to prove your ability to mobilize observable details to give a place its material presence and personality. The set-up of your work also helps little in giving you the chance to demonstrate the power of the “show-not-tell”

    principle. Therefore, even if on the level of writing this piece is quite promising, I have to say that you have totally declined from the actually assignment, and it would not be possible for me to make any comparison between your work and other classmates. What a pity!


A strong portrait with a great sense of order<

    The use of an aging cat as a quiet protagonist is a clever device. Since the cat is on the passive side mainly, its presence strengthens the low- and high-level activities of the street throughout the day.

High writing quality: absolute accuracy and precision<

    Attention to sound has stronger potential than you have realized. You could have allowed more of the street’s drama unfolded via the “drama” of sounds and noises. Yes, that would not be an easy task. But you’ve already laid

    down the framework for sound already, so why not take up the challenge by inventing your own unique method to present and represent sound? For example, the cat’s perception of sound and responses to sounds and noises

    can be more freely imagined.

    Good work. Rich details. Observation pays off; gaps and the unknown sufficiently imagined.


    It is a piece written with great care. An ordinary place comes to live because of the introduction of differences in temperature, activity, mood, type of visitors and so on.

Project B CA01

    The switch from the POV of the observer to that of the cat and the school guard is a good thought. I also think an unstated transition from one POV to another is the right design as it would create minute changes in the readers’

    reading process, thus calling their attention to the unique of the place. In this respect, I find the first and the third POV working better. For the cat’s, you need something more physical to de-familiarize the experience of an ordinary human being. You also want to “invent” a different kind of sensation.

    In general, the piece reads well, and expressing close relation between the place and the voice that is describing the place. Some details could be more specific.

50920052 藍色空間

    Very strong set-up<; also able to highlight the general landscape of the place from a stranger’s POV.

I like page 3: it has strong “showing” power.

    Page 4 is a bit thin: it doesn’t quite focus on digging into the flow of the mechanical little beings<

    Good narrative power, but a bit lacking in the right sense of proportion as to how to focus on the key moment of your story. Much of the writing is spent on the background and the set-up, whereas the key moment of the crossing of the blue space is too brief and lacking in thickness and depth.

    Should pay attention to how to distribution thickness of details across a piece of writing in your last assignment.

Still an interesting piece after all.

Project B CA01

    50920285 “$2.2的碼頭

You’ve surely found a personalized angle for the Star Ferry. It is also an

    interesting historical moment, which you’ve managed to incorporate into your portrait.

    Quite a lot of interesting details<, but you need a better sense of proportion how where to fill in more and where to stay sketchy. You also need a clear sense of rhythm.

    The multiple POVs generate interesting details, but they are not always consistent.

    Two or three more rounds of re-writing is necessary to clean up all the minor mistakes and to keep the transition from one POV to the next more effective, and use of details more precise and accurate.

    Your writing has given Star Ferry a unique personality. Can be much improved.

50920457 “Cinema”

You’ve chosen an effective analogy to highlight the character of movie theatre

    as a place. A closer look, the piece is more about cinema and the activity of movie-going<.

    The entire piece is very well written, showing your good grasp of language, and definitely showing your observational power in general. However, this looks like something you can just write out of your experience and insight, whereas the work of site visits and intense hearing and seeing have not shown much. This assignment, as stated clearly, requested not only good writing, but the experience that research (close observation) would make a difference to a creative writer. It is a bit difficult for me to assess you in this area. Your power of thinking and forming your views and insight is clearly demonstrated, whereas the power of seeing is not very clear. You need to demonstrate the power of “having been there”! Or have you reorganized your

Project B CA01

    field notes into a narrative about one single experience?

    In general, the physicality of the cinema, not movies, should be explored most intensely. This is a piece of quality writing no doubt, and is not lacking in interesting details. But it is really not addressing the basic requirement of the assignment. A pity<

50922150 班房

Appreciate the great care you’ve put in to put down the fine procedures of the

    here-and-now process of your field observation. The short distance you took (i.e. how closely you studied the space) results in a very special style. As a result, your writing is rich in details and information, helping the readers to see in their mind, or to smell in many different moments.

    In general, seeing is more precise than the case of smell. I also hear, but the sounds are sometimes too vague and muffled. You can work on smell and sound more. Nonetheless, the whole piece of writing has a varied contour because of how you disperse (distribute) hearing, seeing and smelling across the page.

    It is a minimalist portrait of an often forgettable corner of the city space of Hong Kong. You have done a pretty good job. For a minimalist style to work, you also need to be very precise with the choice of words and use of language. As it is now, the piece is a bit under-edited and many minor mistakes or problems in sentence structure get into the reader’s way. In your Project D,

    you want to learn to edit your own writing like a stranger at least twice before you hand it in to me.

    The whole piece is very musical overall. It is a difficult task you’ve set for yourself, and congratulations you’ve done a competent job.

My last question is: is this a classroom that you’ve recalled from the past? Or

    is it a classroom that you’ve just studied?

Project B CA01

    50924745 北角

Great precision with location and physical details<a highly micro-view of the

    surroundings of the North Point MTR station, with interesting narrative evolvement from place to people<

Good observation in general, which shows that your “seeing” exercise pays

    off. Physical details very unique to North Point< You have created a place that is mainly made up of exits, entrances, passage ways and crossings, a place of complex flow. Well done.

    In terms of time, there is a good blend of the general state of affairs and specific happenings in a particular moment on a particular spot. Perhaps you can work more on the distribution of the general and the specific.

    More self-conscious editing required. Here and there I read sentences with missing links.

    I suggest the parts on Sun Kwong Theatre and vehicles could be turned into an extension of the networked space around the MTR exits. Right now, these two sessions seem to stand out loosely, diluting the highly focused portrait of North Point via the MTR station.


Strong integration of story and physical details of the place< Interesting

    details, which should be further developed to communicate the un-definable character of the place. Right now, there is sufficient details on the flow of event, but the idea of a place that needs

50926070 “不夜之城

It seems to me that you’ve had some basic observation of the on-going events

    here, and you’ve picked a number of people you noticed but did not know

Project B CA01

    and turned them into the “stock” character of the story you’ve invented.

    There is some kind of an identity of placer emerging based on your writing. At the same time, I find the place very, or too, generic: that is, it is a “typical” place that a lot of popular saying, popular stories and mass media have created. Because it is so typical (and too much fitting stereotypes), it is less real as a place. The point of this exercise is precisely to beg us to see closely, intensely, and differently so a place may recover its richness instead of being turned once again into a predictable place. Using “type” (or “stock”)

    characters is definitely not helping with the task of Project B because these characters don’t really have real flesh and blood: they don’t have individual personality, but only fit certain types. You also don’t need to draw value

    judgment on these people explicitly: if you want to critique them, you give us the details so we (the readers) can draw that conclusion ourselves. This is the whole point of the “show-not-tell” principle, which is expected of you in

    Project B.

    In a way, you’ve presented me with a place, but it feels like I’ve seen and heard of this place too many times and even the logic of human relation and morality is familiar. You want to make this place very specific via the use of carefully studied details, and make us “re-discover” this place even if we’ve

    heard of it many, many times.

50926996 “Place Toys”

    Simple, accessible details, perceived by a pair of innocent eyes< Yet they show that you’ve observed the location carefully, with a strong sense of order.

    The minimal story you’ve built in (a paper box collector) does help to gradually explain step by step the strange vision and audio experience you present to your reader. So your narrative is about strange perceptual experience gradually naturalized via a child-street-roamer.

    Good descriptive power without using stock adjectives. Into the middle of the piece, I already get the sense that the person speaking is very short and small, and that s/he has not really been to other parts of Hong Kong.

Project B CA01

    The best thing I like in the entire piece is your attention to sound, which comes back consistently in your writing to string together other types of experiences. You have done a great job helping me to hear more or less what you’ve heard.

    To improve, the vision of a child is not always consistent. You need one or more re-write to clean up all the gaps. I’m sure some self-editing exercises

    will help you to find all the places to improve.

Very fine work.

50929949 (on a found photograph)

Interesting project design<An effective unfolding of the process of your

    search and looking<, which turns out to be the main object of writing.

    Your journey provides an insider’s view of the human geography of Causeway Bay, especially via a good blend of activities, architectural structures, sounds and light and shades. It is the familiar Causeway Bay we all know, and yet it has a unique sense of life and breathes differently because of the search journey built into the piece.

Good work.


    An effective portrayal of your experience of suffocation, assisted by the alternation between intense sensation and tight details of the physical space<

    The work of showing-not-telling should also be complimented for its power of transformation: you have not only shown us a place with typical qualities of crowdedness and cramming, but a place that becomes a different sort of world or a world more than what it is -- because of its character.

Project B CA01

    Some details are more important than others and you need to identify them so as to give them more live and organic qualities.


    Intense weaving together of perceptible details via the five sense and sensation of the body< Your method of individuating (isolating) the

    functioning (and experience) of the five senses is the most interesting element of this piece a great strategy to unravel details to the finest possible degree without losing humanness.

You’ve given yourself a highly challenging job by focusing on the 5 senses,

    which effectively intensifies the experience of waiting.

Great craftsmanship of words with sophistication.

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