Category Archives: Bali

ARphabet Tour

Stephen Black

the ARphabet tour

Indiegogo Prelaunch  page.

With the three topics of AR, Books and Mango Sticky Rice, The ARphabet tour starts at ARIA at MIT, January 14 and 15, 2019.  AR-themed presentations are one part of the tour, the second involves readings and writing workshops.There is also a component called The Mango Sticky Rice Experience.

The ARphabet Tour is fun, serious and now taking bookings for the United States and Canada. After stops at SXSW in Austin, Texas and the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco, The ARphabet Tour will wind down around the first of April.

Newest version of the flyer.

Although I am planning an AR startup, the talk is about AR trends and developments. I am not using this tour as a way to directly seek investors or partners. I am interested in promoting AR as a whole.

Here is an example, from my workshops last summer, at HK  PolyU.

AR: 2018 State of the Art Workshop @ Hong Kong PolyU

AR Presentations

Presentation will be focused  to provide maximum relevant information to any of the following groups. No AR knowledge or experience necessary. Consultations should be scheduled separately.

  • General
  • Children
  • Grade School Students
  • High School Students
  • University Students
  • Advertising/Media
  • Food Industry
  • Medical
  • Artists, including Dancers and Sculptors
  • Filmmakers
  • Writers and Poets 
  • Investors

Unless requested otherwise, the presentations are not overly technical and consist of personal experiences and observations about the past, present and future of AR.

Introducing  Bubiko Foodtour, an AR character

Readings and Workshops

Son of a book salesman, author of fiction and non fiction, writer for TV, websites and magazines, Stephen is well experienced with the art of writing. One of his books, I  Ate Tiong Bahru, is a national bestseller in Singapore. The readings provide a behind-the scenes look at Stephen's writing techniques, inspirations ad challenges. Stephen's books and related videos and reviews can be found here.

Workshops, as much as possible, focus on ideas and text provided by students. After explaining his own writing process, write and share their own texts and ideas, which are evaluated individually and with the class as a whole. Workshops can be modified for any age group or level of writing experience. I have taught English in Japan,as well as creative writing/poetry performance  in Singapore. I also studied in an invite-only class with Robert McKee, the legendary teacher and author of Story, the definitive guide to screenwriting.

Publishing Magnates
Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.
360 films
Stephen Black in Beach Road, the 360VR film he co-produced with Hiverlab. The film has been featured in festivals in Las Vegas, Brisbane and Singapore.

Mango Sticky Rice. Yes, we will also be doing presentations and workshops on mango sticky rice. Why? Because mango sticky rice is Bubiko Foodtour's favorite food. We researched it extensively during our tour of Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand.

About Stephen Black

After graduating with a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stephen Black experienced the growth of digital media from these viewpoints: as a photographer, as a video artist in New York's  Lower East Side and Japan; as a producer/writer/director for Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies in Hong Kong, and as a self-publisher of ebooks, books and photography books.

He was first drawn to the possibilities of spatial computing/AR/VR as the creative director for a $3.2 million game-making startup in Singapore. In 2007 he committed himself to writing books, while anticipating the arrival of AR and VR. And here we are...

Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black
A Chinese newspaper review of i ate tiong bahru. iatb is available as an audio book and a softcover, on Amazon. The first edition of the printed version is sold out.

Stephen Black: 72 hour Facebook Live Broadcast



Augmented Reality,art, Southeast Asian food, Bubiko Foodtour, VR, music, haikus, photographs, videos, unusualness... and discussions, readings from, and free downloads of, EBOOKS! The broadcast starts at 3PM September 30, Malaysia time, ends on Monday, October 2 at 3PM Malaysia time.

Until October 2, these ebooks are free downloads on Amazon:

Obama Search Words


Fires by Cyril Wong

i ate tiong bahru (a paper copy is available at naiise)

Bali Wave Ghost

Flame Magnet

red dot SAD


Contact With Shadow is not a free download, but if you are interested in the future of book distribution, you should know about Unglue.

There is an audiobook version of i ate tiong bahru, narrated by Mirai Booth-Ong. And, this is 3how's debut album.

Bubiko Foodtour is AR's first superstar.

Base of operations: the Abby Hotel in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Thank you: Hock Moon Hiong BBQ meat and Jewellery Design and Management International School

If you are here because you are interested in my AR-related startup ideas, this post gives you an overview.

FWIW, I will soon have stories on Popularium and ElevenAsia

I am writing this 30 hours after the marathon went live.On one hand my blog views are double what they usually are. On the other hand, there haven't been many viewers. That is OK. I didn't do any pre-publicity, I am not paying Facebook to blast the event and there are no costs, other than my time. I hope that towards the end of the 72 hours there are more viewers. For now, I can only say if you visit the FB live page, say hi.

Here is an email I've sent out to friends and associates:

Hello everyone... I hope the weekend is a good one for you.

Just to short note to say that I am doing a live FB broadcast from Ipoh-for 72 hours. I started Friday at 3, will finish at 3 on Monday. The camera I am using isn't very good, the audio is so-so, the internet is slow and I am silhouetted during the daytime. Perfect!

Actually I am learning a lot, and my blog is seeing a nice amount of action. The free ebooks are trickling out of Amazon. I can see clicks on my blog posts about my AR startup plans. Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from the Malay Mail.

Anyhoo...stop by and chat with the silhouette... and meet Secret Donut World, the Doughbots and steamboatbubikofoodtourwillie.



This was the schedule for Friday...


3pm Ipoh (3AM NYC)8AM London

Son Mn Chinese Lantern Exhibition

4:30-5:30 Ipoh(4:30-5:30AM NYC)9:30-10:30 AM London

reading from Obama Search Words

5:30-6:15 Ipoh

Ipoh food adventures

6:15-7PM Ipoh

Ipoh evening tour

7pm(7AM NYC)12PM London

Bubiko: Adventures in Photoshop at Thanas Wedding Photography

9pm(9am NYC)2pm London

Ipoh Evening food adventures

9-10 Ipoh

Free ebooks introduction

10pm(10am NYC)3pm London

Stephen Black and VR

11pm(11am NYC)4pm London

Stephen Black startup ideas

12am(12pm NYC)5pm Lon

Stephen Black and AR

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 (in Ipoh)

coming soon!

notes on the book Seen and Unseen by Russell Darnley

Russell Darnley's experiences in Asia are somewhat like my own. We've both spent considerable time in Bali, Singapore, and Indonesia, where Russell lived for a number of years. I lived in Japan, another place that Russell wrote about. Russell is Australian; I'm American.  Seen and Unseen is  a collection of short stories  based on Russell`s memoirs but, as I read, I often found myself remembering similar situations, or comparing his descriptions of a certain place with my own. Russell's  ability to speak Indonesian put him in the midst of the hospitals and makeshift morgues of Kuta immediately after the Bali Bombing. Reading his words, I felt like I was there. This sense of being beside  the author occurred  throughout the book, and thankfully, often in much more positive places than Kuta during that terrible time. Russell's writing style is, for the most part conversational. He recreates dialogues and places them within a chronological structure. This simple method allows him to provide easily understood insights into complex matters. Russell gracefully overcomes the challenges of using non-English words in an English language text. We can understand, for example, an Indonesian word because of its context or by the way it's used by a character. Russell  spent a significant portion of his life in Indonesia. The result of all of this is that we can how political decisions affect peoples lives, especially those political decisions involving more than one country.

photo of Russell Darnley from

In short, I enjoyed reading Seen and Unseen because it was like having an intelligent older relative sharing with me the details of a life well lived. To give you an idea of the scope of the book, I present you with a few titles of the book's twenty-nine chapters: Sid Thompson and D Company Red Poppies and Janur An Encounter With White Australia Surviving the Sixties Balikpapan: Looking Backwards and Forwards Kampanye- The Campaign Procession An Unusual Kind of Thunder Singapore 43 Years on I should mention that Russell gave me a copy of Seen and Unseen in the Tiong Bahru Market, which is where we met. Finally, I wrote  a book, Bali Wave Ghost, that constantly makes reference to the Bali Bombing. Seen and Unseen on Amazon FWIW, Russell has been spotted in The Oak Bar. (I apologize for the formatting of this post. I am unsure as to why my previews always show a much more attractive spacing and layout, but once I publish, the posts look like this one...)  

Amazon Book Reviews: Different Presentations to Different Countries?

If you think that Amazon posts the same reviews, and the same number of reviews for each book, think again... OK, all of this first happened before I had coffee. Now, twelve hours later, I can tell you the following pieces of information are  worth writing about...
  • There are now only two reviews displayed on the Singapore Amazon page, which I think is the same as the UK Amazon page..
  • If you notice, on some of the pages it says, below the star rating chart, there is a sentence written in green: Published on that seems obvious, so there must be something I' m missing. I mean, if I am on the Amazon page and I see the review, it is published on Amazon. com, correct? But then why does that green sentence NOT appear on the Singapore page? (Which only has two reviews?)
  • At one point this morning, the score was: Canada 3, USA 2, UK 2, Singapore 2... these "scores" were all tabulated at almost the same time... And not all of the reviews were the same. I think maybe six people have written reviews in total, but I have yet to see them all displayed on the same page.
  • 13548828_10157031666075125_1006338799_o 13524140_10157031694765125_1438300248_o 13555991_10157031666070125_619470784_o
  • Stralia! The Australian Amazon page shows no "star" reviews, but has two reviews, one for four and the other for five stars....And, from the screenshot below, it seems that an individual country, in this case Australia, does not use the yellow bars of the star system unless the review was posted on that country's site.... To put it another way, reviews  show up definitely on the Amazon page of the country from which the review was sent. But Amazon's algorithms may not share that post internationally and equally.
13392157_654679868020560_3445337553130063924_o So there ya gooo A big thank you to Stuart Rankin! Oh yeah! Bali Wave Ghost is here...and there are plenty of posts about it on this blog, as well as a link to a video interview. And if you would like to get a free ebook of Bali wave ghost, click here... Don't get me started on the way that this WordPress version presents lists...99% of WordPress is fantastic, but lists and numbering...    

Inari, Bali and Snow (1)

DO NOT READ THIS! THE FINAL VERSION IS HERE! THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. I WILL BE WORKING ON THIS THROUGHOUT THE DAY and WILL SOON BE ADDING IT TO MY FURIKAKE BOOK. For now, I hope that the following draft provides enough finished passages for you to enjoy and that the unfinished passages provide a sense of how important the story is to me. Inari, Bali and Snow During my first winter in Asia my home was a little tatami room in Yotsuya. There, on the morning of January 28, 1985, I awoke well before dawn, bundled up and set out to wander through the continuing grandeur of a snowstorm that had shut down Tokyo. I was hungry; had nothing but coins in my pocket and a camera loaded with black and white film. I slid open the door and began marching through the snowdrifts. Cold air stung my nose and lungs. After the white maze of my neighborhood,  I reached Shijnuku-dori. Then west, past the Sun Music Building that the singer threw herself off of. Then Yasukuni-dori, with the thought of going right and visiting Yasukuni Shrine. I'd sat in its cafeteria once, with a veteran from World War II who said I looked like Gary Cooper. We drank green tea beneath a Mitsubishi Zero attached to the ceiling

But no, I wandered left, towards Shinjuku san-chome, where I stood beneath a traffic light and watched its colored lights tint the swirling snow. Eventually I reached Mitsukoshi and the other department stores, each big enough to occupy an entire block. Further west, across from the station, the gaudy lights, billboards and neon of Kabukicho had become soft pastels. On small side streets, I passed darkened yakitori-yas, convenience stores and round red akachochins topped with snow and ice. The quiet. The cold. The feeling of being immensely alone. And lost. Lost, lost, lost. Delightfully so.

Flower garden. A French friend and I went drinking near here one night and he told me that the Chinese characters carved in the monument now before me mean Flower Garden. Hanazono Jinja. Hundreds of years ago, the Hanazono family built this shrine , one dedicated to Inari, the androgynous god of fertility and worldly success. Inari, the god of the arts.

I walk forward, between two dull grey buildings. At the end of the passage, a torii; waiting like a strange goal post, or a letter from an alien alphabet. Tubular, wooden and orange, the torii is a relic from a ceremony of whispers. The people of Tokyo are warm in their beds and sleeping; I am in the cold and dreaming.

There is a stone basin for washing one's hands and rinsing one's mouth; the ice within it protected by lace made of wire mesh and snow. The ema, the small, thin wood plaques covered with neatly written hopes and wishes are bunched in rows, nooses connecting them to the display stand. The temple grounds are barely lit and surrounded by modernity.Then! The clouds part and—for an instant-- the sun rushes in like a spotlight. Below the dark blue snowy sky, golden light strikes the temple's black tortoise shell roof, the white frost on the pine trees, and the stone foxes standing guard. The fresh vermillion paint for Oshogatsu, the corridor of red toriis, the simplistic arabesques of gold trim, the precise and clean concrete stairs; the sun is behind me, throwing itself forward everywhere. The gigantic shrine vibrates like a massive, noble flame of Japanese architecture. The vividness of details, the vividness of the whole... Then--just a glimpse-- the full moon. Asahi! I stood alone in that quiet heaven of color until the threat of the freezing cold be ignored no longer. My feet and hands were paralyzed. I vaguely recognized the steps at the back of the shrine, thought they'd be a shortcut to the Dunkin Donuts on Shinjuku-dori. At the top of the stairs, however, I saw that I was overlooking the two-story wooden shacks and alleys of Golden Gai. Somewhere in there was Shunchan's. Like a wounded cowboy I limped down the stairs into that little white Japanese ghost town.   Golden Gai: one of those places that teen aged Western boys imagine they will one day find themselves in. Prostitution, gambling, rendezvous spots, cheap drinking places, yakitori shops, bars specializing in all kinds of music; all connected by very narrow walkways lit by red paper lanterns and old cheap plastic Suntory signs. I was sure Shunchan wouldn't be there. I was wrong.

Irrrashai!” He said it not with the loud bellowing mechanical style of most shop owners, but as though he were sharing an inside joke. It was 7AM, in a frozen and snowbound Tokyo, but Shunchan smiled at me like it was late on a Friday night after payday. Both serene and slightly nervous, Shunchan is the perfect host.  He stabbed the chunk of ice in his hand with an ice pick while I thought about my order.

Was Shunchan a great friend of mine? No--but he was an anchor, a touchstone. Regular. I was a regular in Shunchan's bar; he and his little bar provided a regularity in a city full of extremes of many kinds. There was always always an interesting crowd. Whether they were Japanese, Russian or Australian, Shunchan made the hostesses feel relaxed. He treated the English teachers and backpackers like locals. Celebrities, artists and musicians brought in great mixtapes, his drinks weren't that expensive and Shunchan laughed a lot. He was good friends with the young woman in the bright orange dress.

The next section is here.

Notes on an Ebook Giveaway

To celebrate Book Merah's tenth birthday, four books were given away on Amazon: Bali Wave Ghost, Fires, Obama Search Words and Furikake. Stephen Black, the author of three of the books and the founder of Book Merah was based in Bali at the time of the event. He has also lived in Singapore for most of the past fifteen years. Thus, some of the following points may be unique to Bali, Indonesia and Singapore. Notes from an Ebook Giveaway that took place on April 8-12, 2016 1. AMAZON BUNDLES THE REQUESTED EBOOK WITH OTHER BOOKS. I was told that the bundle included Pride and Prejudice, Aesop's Fables and Treasure Island. This is not a problem, but when I was told that the download included books besides mine, I was shocked! 2. AMAZON REQUESTS/SUGGESTS RECIPIENTS WRITE A REVIEW?The person who wrote the following is not a native speaker, but it seems like Amazon suggests or asks that the person who downloads the book.... also writes a review? From the email of someone who downloaded on of my books: "...and in order to be  able get your books, I should visit Amazon which review your books. Is that correct?" I do not have a Kindle and have not yet downloaded any ebooks so I cannot comment. If you have downloaded a free ebook (from anyone) can you tell me if Amazon suggests you write a review or not? 3. DOWNLOAD COMPLICATIONS 1. ... Same person as above, a few minutes later: "I gave up for now. Does not work when I tried to download your book. I'll try later on". This comment may be linked to the slowness of the internet. No other complaints like this were reported. 4. DOWNLOAD COMPLICATIONS 2 "I can't download your book. The price is still displaying so if I put them in the cart I assume they  will charge me. I'll ask my friend who is using kindle" Hmmm 5. INDONESIA DOWNLOAD RESTRICTIONS. My friend Komang received this message from Amazon: Komang, this title is not available for you. Due to copyright restrictions, the Kindle title you're trying to purchase is not available in your country: Indonesia. Did you recently move to a new country? "You can easily update your country for your Amazon account." Not sure what the answer is here. Is it related to the content of my books? I doubt it. Obama Search Words includes  a couple of chapters set in Jakarta, where he lived as a child, but, in my opinion, the chapters contain  nothing offensive or anti-government. The stories are even a bit nostalgic. I Ate Tiong Bahru is about the food and history of a community  in Singapore. Bali Wave Ghost is set in Bali and I can't imagine why it would be considered troublesome. Cyril Wong is an award-winning poet and his book, Fires, is not inflammatory. Perhaps Amazon sees downloading books in Indonesia the same as downloading to pirates who would copy the books and sell them illegally? I would welcome this, actually. Are my books so popular that bootleggers want to copy them? Great!Are readers are so desirous of my books that they will risk getting viruses from illegal vendors? If so, I wish they would just write to me and ask for a free copy! Happy to give them one! 6. AMAZON DOES NOT PROVIDE EBOOKS TO SINGAPORE (and other countries)
Obama Search Words on Amazon

Amazon does not provide Kindle service to Singapore and other countries. This is what is displayed when a Singaporean tries to download a book.

Singapore and other countries not serviced by Amazon. Actually, at the time of this writing the ebook giveaway will continue for about another 12 hours. You are invited to read the books. Any feedback or questions about this post or the books are much appreciated. I have been collecting notes for a post that reviews what went wrong and what went right with my free download campaign. Subscribe to the blog if you are interested... Onward!   Stephen Black  

Aspects of VR in Bali Wave Ghost, the novel by Stephen Black

black and white book covers Beach Road is a short VR film made by Stephen Black and hiverlab. Free download here. (The image at the top of this post, of the parking lot attendant, is a still from Beach Road. Bali Wave Ghost is the latest novel by Stephen Black. Along with three other books, it is a free download until April 12. Bali Wave Ghost is a story and a reading experience. The story aspect is simple: an American reality TV, star, Odie Holmes, returns to Bali twenty years after the Bali Bombing, in which his wife died along with 200 other victims. He has a stomach problem and the prescribed medicine has side effects, including hallucinations. He drinks, but he shouldn't. Odie's mental landscape is contrasted with the different realities of Bali: the island's tropical paradise ambience, the touristic gaudiness of Kuta, the seaside village of Sanur, and Ubud, the hilly, artistic center of Bali. Odie's new-found love is a Russian/Dutch/Balinese "event organizer" and his neighbors include a well-known Japanese photographer and Will Sun, a surfer. Balinese people weave in and out of Odie's life as well. Bali Wave Ghost vibrates between the neutrality of a fly-on-the-wall style documentary, the passion of a love story and the wildness of unleashed spirituality. Lost in Translation meets Hunter S. Thompson on the Island of the Gods. So...VR... Bali Wave Ghost features a fictitious VR viewing headgear called a SeeThing. SeeThings were conceptualized before I had actually experienced VR and created anything in VR. Bali Wave Ghost is not a "cyber" book; SeeThings are described as common objects and are more "spice" than "main course". SeeThings appear throughout the book and, in terms of literary approach, are about as "unusual" as mobile phones are now. Simply, SeeThings are just another piece of technology in the year 2022. (The book is set in that year, as the twentieth year remembrance of the Bali Bombing is an important event for Odie.) Just as 360 VR allows the viewer to be in the middle of an all-surrounding "stage", I have at times, written scenes in which the reader is aware of everything in front of him or her, as well as in back and on both sides. In VR filmmaking this is a challenge because the viewer may not want to always make the effort to turn to look behind. With words, however, the reader is always comfortably in the center of the action. No need for swivel chairs when you read a book! from Bali Wave Ghost

The bottom level of the market is where I now find myself, in a dark corner lit by dim bulbs. I slow down to watch a woman move her hand in circles before she positions red flowers in a yellow wooden shrine the size of a cereal box. The front of one stall is lined with cones of brown waxed paper containing rice, chicken and cooked green leaves. Behind them, an old woman rhythmically scoops and wraps and makes more cones. Beside her is a column, topped by a shrine draped with faded yellow cloth. The shrine holds burning incense, and next to the cloth is a spectacular, perfectly circular spider web. The web and the fluttery incense smoke are precisely defined by shafts of sunlight. The spider web reminds me of Seashore’s flat, where dreamcatchers hang in every room.

In front of me, a small rickety table is covered with bowls of food and surrounded by Balinese housewives. Without knowing exactly what is being served, I join the queue. Soon I’m seated, looking over a plate of nasi campur, a dish of rice and various kinds of meat. A woman grills satay right behind me. When she fans the flames, smoke moves over the table.

The passage above was rewritten after I had experienced VR. It literally sets the stage. The next paragraphs introduce the actors. If this were the cinematography/storyboard for a VR movie, the basement market scene would be dynamic in all dimensions before settling down and allowing most of the action to take place in front of the viewer's 180 degree field of vision. I am very interested in the relationship between VR and the way our eyes perceive the light reflected from objects (reality). In Bali Wave Ghost, I have sometimes used my ideas on these topics to create "stages of text" that allow for drama and a distinctive reading experience.Hopefully the results are more emotional than theoretical. Here is a link to a good explanation about how the eye perceives what is in front of it, as well as a comparison of the field of view(FOV) of different VR headgears.  

Bali Wave Ghost Bike Karma Crowdfunding

SHORT VERSION: Because of some very good comments and feedback, I am thinking of crowdfunding Bali Wave Ghost, my novel. The proceeds would go to replace a bike that was stolen while in my possession. I, not now in a position to replace it. Crowdfunding can save the day! LONG VERSION: OK, I messed up.No excuse; I was simply not thinking... Because of that that there was unease, friction and the possibility of a lot of negativity. Despite being in a situation which was negative on many levels, I remained positive. Quiet, but positive. In my darkness, a light appeared, first on the computer screen, then in a coffee shop. A wave of calm hope appeared and a sense of determination manifested itself.. In other words, I spaced out and left the keys in a motorbike the day of the Ubud market fire. The bike is gone.I am worse than broke because I only have been working on my book called Bali Wave Ghost. A bridge of hope and understanding was built by a guy who drank a Bintang! Like I told him,I just launched the ebook version and was preparing to now find work as a photographer, videomaker or writer. I'm finally ready to at least partially reverse my financial situation. But the bike needs to be replaced asap. Back to Bali Wave Ghost: Today, on Facebook,I posted the news about the free ebook giveaway and the response has been unbelievably good. I set a record number of views and Amazon says about 100 people have downloaded my books... SO everything is on track. EXCEPT... the books are free and the bike needs to be replaced. BOTTOM LINE: because of the positive response on Facebook, I am thinking of crowdfunding. Bike gets replaced, people get a great book at a discount. The situation would set up so that the cost of a new bike is covered. If the crowdfunding goal is exceeded, the full amount of that excess goes to charity.Thoughts? Please leave your name in the comments section if you would like to get a copy of Bali Wave Ghost by crowdfunding. If I feel that there is enough support, I will try my hardest to make the project a success.

Book Merah Giveaway

Hello.... Thanks for your interest! It is difficult to believe that Book Merah is ten years old! So much has happened and the journey has been very eventful! Click here if you would like to know more about Book Merah's history. At the bottom of this post is a video in which I talk about books and other things. black and white book covers "a mad work of genius" -Richard E. Lewis, Bali resident and author of Bones of the Dark Moon, a novel set in the war-torn Bali of the Sixties. "a tropical storm; exquisite yet threatening..." -Lee A. Meiser " a dizzying dive into a hidden heritage filled with the scent of frangipani and pure pleasure." Julie O'Yang, author of Butterfly Video interview with Stephen Black about Bali Wave Ghost and other books.  Bali Wave Ghost on Amazon Obama Search Words by Stephen Black Fact-based fiction about Barack Obama's life before he became President of the United States. Obama Search Words on Amazon
"... a multifaceted portrait, one in which a serious analysis of race is  counterbalanced by thought-provoking original research, never-before-seen imagery and a writing style that is lively, intimate and enjoyable."
... touches upon lesser known aspects of Obama's pre-Presidential life, but I was especially interested in the book's unusual--and effective-- chapters that brought the Civil Rights Movement to life.
- O'Brien Browne, author of My Back Pages
photography as part of book cover design Furikake is a book inspired by a mixture of spices, a dry Japanese condiment meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. Nine tales set in the Far East, mainly Singapore, linked by a different declination of furikake, like a recipe book full of savoury ingredients. Furikake on Amazon Red chairs, cyril wong and FIRES Fires is a book of poems by  Singaporean poet Cyril Wong. Fires on Amazon   I Ate Tiong Bahru book cover A classic. "Unlike anything else I've read".  "Black's love letter is one of the best introductions to a country and a state of mind that you might read." Nirmala Deview, Art Review Asia  "reads like a travelogue, a personal story and a history book...a pleasure to read." Tiong Bahru is an area and a community in Singapore. iatb is available in Singapore at Naiise, Scene Shang, Plain VanillaBooks Actually, &  Booktique,    I Ate Tiong Bahru on Amazon ........................ More! BEACH ROAD, STEPHEN BLACK'S VR MOVIE (free download) SPOKEN an exhibition curated by Stephen Black, in a virtual gallery created by Eugene Soh.  SPOKEN features unknown and known artists and writers such as Stelarc, Sjon, Kembra Pfahler, Vincent Leow, Xu Xi and Yasumasa Morimoto. (free download) Thank you very, very much for your interest in Book Merah. If you have any comments or ideas, please let me know in the comments section. If you think any of your friends would like these books, feel free to share. If the response is strong enough I may extend this offer past the 13th. Finally, it would be much appreciated if you could review anything you read, especially on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog or Facebook. Thanks again! Onward, Stephen Black MORE! Contact with Shadow- Stephen Black's novel set in contemporary Singapore, yet full of Singaporean history from before the days of Raffle, up to 1911. This book is not yet free, but is becoming unglued, which is an exciting revolution in ebook distribution. Video interview and reviews here. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Mee-Young Photography Project: internal logic

This is one of a series of essays on my relationship with, and thoughts on, using photography to create art. My collaboration with the artist Mee-Young Arkim is a starting point and a reference. The first post is here.

abstractfloating form

Collaboration between Mee-Young Arkim and  Stephen Black, Bali, 2016

The elimination of self. Not necessarily a goal in art, but when the self becomes minimized, the experiences and interpretations of  the viewer are allowed to flow where they may. The idea of an artist creating a work without a sense of self is impossible of course; all art is self-portraiture.

Perhaps "surprise" is the element that I am attempting to describe. Yes, Mee-Young had given me a briefing, albeit an open one. Yes, I was perceiving the work as a reference to the water found in rice fields. And yes, I became very conscious of recording the physicality of the moment: the rising sun, the changing light, the cool darkness of the stones and the way the pieces caught the delicate shades of the sky.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Robert Frost

But then , while holding my fingers against the shutter speed and aperture controls, I remembered a simple technique, blur. The high contrast scene before me was ideal for a slow shutter speed and a carefully moved camera. I selected a  slow shutter speed and perceived the scene before the camera differently. I put the camera on my knee, pressed the shutter--and moved.

It is unfortunate that I am not now able to use a better monitor and software to really pull out the subtleties that the RAW file of this image contains. Even so, the image is a source of strength to me. When I look at it, I am allowed to wander. And yet I am reminded of standing by the side of a rice field in Bali with a Korean artist, as we interacted to create something that supported and illustrated her original concept. This image may be a failure in that it does not obviously pay homage to the magnificence of a rice field flooded with water. I enjoy it greatly however,  as it has its own internal  logic. To me, it represents the A-or-B wobbly logic of Possibility.