The Paper Trail
Every, single, day was spent in hope. Waiting for the postman to arrive with a letter that I had anticipated for days, even weeks for. Joy,or disappointment? What would this day bring? Running down the driveway, having caught a glimpse of the delivery car – only to be left disenchanted as I trudge back empty handed. Day after day seemed like a test of patience until finally, a letter in hand at long last. An insurmountable joy ushered me back to the house.
Guided by my jittery hand, the letter-knife seamlessly sliced through the envelope – my heartbeat erratic in anticipation of those first few words. Often reading the letter would be delayed, overtaken and overwhelmed by a wave of memories from a few pictures, tiny paper hearts or even a waft of perfume spilling out like treasures from a memory bank. Those glorious words read like a screenplay, attentive to every detail, this was an alliance between both your thoughts and the writer’s. Read on numerous occasions, all those cherished and priceless letters remain in my possession till this very day.
My project, The Paper Trail, looks at the fading art of letter writing, age-old styles of penmanship that have spirited away – and the aftermath the rapid decline of these traditions has had on society. Giving the public a taste of nostalgia and romanticism, and at the same time, providing a platform for writing that first letter, The Paper Trail aims to rejuvenate a seemingly obsolete form of communication. A number of factors have led to the vast reduction of handwritten letters, tracing back to 1972 with the introduction of electronic mail. The continued growth within the communication sector has now seen the world seeded with 6 hundred million user accounts since social media’s launch in 1997. While speedy communication may be integral for success in today’s business, these modern-day styles has profoundly affected the way people engage with one another.
We now see groups of friends at restaurants, each occupied with their mobile devices, while families at home often text message each other from room to room. Intimate moments we could have shared with our family, friends, loved ones or even strangers are lost forever and unless we begin a conscious effort to save some of the older, traditional methods of engagement we will essentially turn into a society of robots, incapable of eye-contact, glued to our devices, incapable of human interest, enslaved to and perhaps by technology.
The captivating letterbox portraits of The Paper Trail take us into a journey, a long walk down memory lane. Decades of local history forged together through the telescope of modern vision, has created this series of richly storied, beautifully textured imagery.
Born in Hope, British Columbia, David Elliott moved to Hong Kong in 2003. While traveling around the world for photographic shoots and film projects as a model and actor, Elliott’s captivation with the dynamic changing landscapes around Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, China and the Himalayas cemented his stay in Asia.
Elliott’s creative vision began to take form from his base in Hong Kong, a neighbour to Guangdong – the birthplace of his great grandfather Chow Dong Hoy. His ancestor’s Canadian frontier photos – rare glimpses into the juxtaposition of cultures of Indigenous peoples, settlers and migrant workers in Canada in the early 1900’s, inspired Elliott’s desire to portray the essence of a culture’s makeup through the man made architecture and objects used to function and exist in our 21 Century. Through extensive urban exploration and back country travel Elliott strives to discover the unique characteristics of his destinations and their inhabitants, his documentary fine art imagery preserving the long-standing elements within a modern edged framework. The span of Elliott’s work, widespread and varied from project to project, is unified by a unique stylistic flow. His attentive contemplation of each subject draws on two decades behind and in front of the camera, giving rise to images that are both imaginative and provocative.