04 wandering and wondering

rachel chang
3 min readOct 17, 2016


I found this process to be a bit awkward. I find that when I look at things or moments, I tend to think about how I might frame it as a photograph.

Like this is really a pretty ordinary photo of nothing in particular around a bus stop. I had opened my phone to send a Snapchat and the camera framed and distorted the scene in front of me in such a way that I noticed. Looking at it now, it’s so ordinary, and I can’t remember what prompted me to take this photo. There seems to be some sort of emotive quality that it has on my phone and lacks on a laptop screen; I’m able to hold the image in my hand and it feels more intimate.

It feels silly to see graffiti in bougie/suburban neighborhoods, like which angsty teen got sick of scribbling in their notebooks now. But on a more serious note, I always think of the CMU student who was charged for graffiti. Someone was saying that the tags were about reclaiming spaces, and after reading his artist’s statement, everything, his own tags and graffiti and its complexities, makes more sense to me. Some guy making graffiti legible completely misses the point of graffiti and ignores the social forces that drives it. Literal cultural erasure.

Originally I only stopped to take a photo of this because it wasn’t in the standard Hillary visual language. It looks kind of silly, with the stylized flag, the font pairing, the choice of light blue feels like an afterthought, the alignment of Hillary and Tim. I wonder where the sign came from. Where do people even get the signs? Why are they this gross plastic bag over a wire frame? Are they more weather resistant? Or are they cheaper? Are they harder to install than the cardboard ones? Was this sign sanctioned by Hillary’s political organizers or was this some unauthorized fan merchandise? Does the variation in visual language actually make it more effective because now I’ve stopped to look because it’s different?

I didn’t know people still got newspapers like this. The image of a kid throwing newspapers from his bike is seems so anachronistic. Even if I try to imagine a white van distributing these, it still feels off. I had passed a couple before actually stopping to take a photo of this one in particular. In the previous ones, I could see bits of what seemed to be more like a lifestyle insert, photos of citrus slices on a dark background, so seeing guns in this one was a bit jarring. The demographic I imagine purchasing guns and the demographic that reads the Sunday Extra doesn’t really overlap in my head.

I don’t imagine any of these really as “interventions.” I don’t see them as problems but as questions. Most of these seem to display some sort of contrast or contradiction. There’s issues of identity, in very personal and more corporate senses of the word.