Reach, Claw, Break by Amanda

For Project 4, “The Unsocial Life,” the challenge was: The unsocial life: capture your solitude in a series of photos. Take pride in the time you spend being with yourself and share it.

“Reach, Claw, Break” by Amanda Liew
For the most part, my extroversion and Type-A personality helps me to succeed in this world. Between a time-consuming job, photoshoots, coffee dates, guitar, handwritten letters, blogging, and more, my days are filled up to the very brim and my sleep is reduced to nothing. Someone recently asked me as a joke, “What’s your secret? How do you physically do it all?,” and I responsed with a couple of jumbled up excuses. Upon further reflection on both his question and this prompt, though, I realized the answer is actually that I’m terrible at being alone. Solitude for some represents peace and revival. For me, though, it brings about nervousness, anxiety, and feelings of being trapped. I am energized when I’m surrounded by people, but that means I feel sapped when it’s just me. Unsatisfied with the quiet, I seek to fill what I deem as voids with anything possible: loud music, tasks and errands, contacting friends, or making plans to end the solitude. In this piece “Reach, Claw, Break,” I wanted to translate those emotions with my body. While the color blue generally brings about connotations of tranquility and peacefulness, the unmoving frame of the three images is meant to represent an enclosed space.

To see more work by Amanda Liew, click here.

1 - Reach 2 - Claw 3 - Break


Jessica: Your fingers are so expressive, my eyes are drawn right to them in all three images. The shadows beautifully enhace your finger placements as well. I absolutely love your color choice of blue. It’s unexpected, and as you mention in your statement, it holds connotations of calmness and peace. I think that your choice adds so much more depth to your piece because it makes a statement about the environment that is trapping you, and makes it that much harder for you to convey frustration to an audince primed by tranquility. You have 100% succeeded, by the way. However, I did find your “Break” title for your third image to be a little ambiguous in tone. I wasn’t sure if you were triumphantly in the process of breaking out of your surroundings, or broken down from your fruitless efforts. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed this project! It might be my favorite of yours so far.

Stephen: I think this is your best series yet. You have perfectly executed your lack of unsocial life, and I completely understand the ‘unfullfillment’ of solitude and want to escape into the open! The lighting has modelled your figure and following shadow to create a truly boxed up space. I only want to see you succesfully break through the enclosure in a fourth photo, and find the company you search.

Jacquelyn: Your series of photos successfully conveyed the fight to explode out of your shell. I could almost feel your itch to break out of your surrounding and run to freedom. To me, each photo represented a beginning, middle, and end of one story; while you start to escape from your solitude by “reaching” and then “clawing,” you eventually succumb to your environment, catching your breath against the wall and almost surrendering in exhaustion. What was even more impressive was your ability to translate these anxious feelings across the lens to the viewer, pulling the observer into the oppressive room with you and working together to escape. Really great work!

Mary: As an extrovert, I can definitely relate to these feelings, and knowing how I’ve experienced alone time that feels suffocating, I have to say these photos really relay those emotions. Although I think that the season of life where I hated alone time has passed for me, I still feel the shadows of these emotions almost every day. If during a given day I didn’t leave the house, I would find an excuse to run an errand or else find myself clawing at the walls. That’s actually the phrasing I would use to describe that need to leave the alone-ness of my home and go out into the world. The use of the term “claw” is so perfect for describing that attempt to escape. I also liked that the contrast in lighting is so extreme. In my experiences, the alone-ness, in an ironic way, made me feel a loss-of-self. I was Me when I was with people and doing things, but when I found myself alone and with no purpose or goals at hand, I felt lost. So, having your form and face cast in shadow, and the focus being on the space, the enclosure, really enhances that feeling. Big fan of this one, Amanda!

Beatrice: Your photos are very intriguing, and I enjoyed reading the backstory to them. I love how you incorporated the use of silhouettes in your images. It’s also great how you’re presenting another perspective of what “solitude” means. Most people’s first thought would be peacefulness or quietness, but your view is quite the opposite and it’s a great reminder that not everyone sees things the same way. My favorite photo would be the last one “Break” – the symmetry of your body and shadows really appeals to me in that photo.

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