Notes to Gayle Sato
Wing Tek LUM
In the sentence ‘he photographs her’, the photographer is the grammatical subject, and the photographee is the grammatical object. They are linked to each other by the transitive verb ‘photographs’ indicating the action of the camera. As subject, the photographer shoots the camera; as object, the photographee poses for it. The camera’s function is to produce a photograph, an image of the photographee which will fix her at a moment in time for viewing later on. But the camera and the photograph are inherently neutral, just things. They do not have feelings (even though they may elicit some). On the other hand, the photographer and the photographee are human, who can think and feel. These feelings may be incorporated into the way the photographer shoots the camera, as well as the way the photographee poses for it. Sometime later the photograph may be seen by the photographer, the photographee, or someone else. When viewing the photograph, the photographer may have a different emotional response from the photographee, and each may later on have different emotional responses from when the photograph was taken. In addition, if there were some other viewer, he or she (another human) may respond in an entirely different way from the other two humans.
Wing Tek Lum’s work in this publication is from his second collection of poetry, The Nanjing Massacre: Poems, released by Bamboo Ridge Press (Honolulu) in 2012. Bamboo Ridge also published his first collection, Expounding the Doubtful Points, in 1987.