I concealed the device. I pretended to read. I resided in anonymity. I was my own secret agent.
I tried to take a photo of a yak leg in Tibet, only to be shooed away by the shop owner. I offended him, somehow, with my thin black rectangle and my easily different face of Han.
I took the camera to the palace, where all tourists took their cameras. The digital clicks echoed on the empty plaza. The lenses, looming, stopped on the foreign objects. Intricacies from the empire of the Tibetan kings. Buddhas in gold. The Western Paradise.
I don’t like to take the camera out with me. Whenever I raise it, I am seen as a tourist. As a result, the tripod I brought is left untouched. I have discussed with others the difference between tourism, travel and journey; have thought about the relationships between the lens and documentation, perception, representation. But when a cold black lens divides two people, without any communication, it’s not a surprise that one is labeled. Out of respect, before I find the proper means, I’d like to take pictures with my phone. Or, what’s better, with my eyes.
Jan 6, 2018. Lhasa, Tibet