The war in South East Asia had just ended when I was born. I was around 2 or 3 when we escaped on a wooden boat. I have vivid memories of those experiences. These are what I consider my first photographs. We landed at a refugee camp in Malaysia. I looked out to the horizon quite often for those 13 months. Something was happening to us, but I couldn't be sure what.
It was a bewildering combination of darkness and light; of the ethereal and the ephemeral. My innocence and naiveté had me focus on the immediate world around me. Anything else left to my imagination. Everything was worth looking at and meditating. The beetles, the sand, the tarp, the moon, the strangers, the waves, and the vast and infinite blue sea beyond the shore. What was beyond that horizon needed to be discovered and explored, even if it was the most mundane thing. Later, I also found inspiration from various environments in the west and influences from music, literature, movies, technology, space, and the sciences.

As Hemingway once said, "I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There are seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows." This viewpoint is also how I like to approach my work.

The heart perceives what the mind cannot see.


©Mai La Thai 2018