Patrick Tsai’s Talking Barnacles blog—Would Vincent Approve?

Michael Louie


One of the things Vincent Gallo liked to do was take stuff from his childhood and sell it on the Internet. We all like to do things like that, take old shit of ours and prey on someone else’s nostalgia whether it’s vintage jewelry swiped from your grandmother or an original issue Optimus Prime figure in good condition. We all wouldn’t mind making a buck here and there. Vincent Gallo, however, takes it one step further. He takes things from his past, meaningless things to anyone else, and adds his own semi-celebrity varnish to it, then sells it as a one-of-a-kind collectors item. Would you like an 8-track copy of Chris Squire’s solo record? No? Well, what if I told you Vincent Gallo was listening to this very copy whilst he lost his virginity to an older slutty girl, paraphrasing his own advertorial copy—would you want it then? What it also bears Vincent Gallo’s autograph? Would you want it then? Suprisingly, many times the answer is Yes.


My friend Patrick Tsai doesn’t take old things and sign his name to them. His signature is much more nebulous, as you can see in his latest photo diary, which he started around the same time as the earthquake struck Japan last month. Although it was not planned to be an examination of the way life changes during such a disaster, this is what it has become. Patrick, who I haven’t seen in easily seven years, is a photographer who has also lived in Taiwan and China, is now in Tokyo and his life is in its own turmoil. I met Pat during our days interning at Giant Robot magazine, and through him I met Samantha Culp, the now-Beijing based curator and artist and daughter of actor Robert Culp. Pat was always the superior photographer; I remember distinctly a series of him with a toy gun, a cowboy hat, and tighty-whities. He had a thing for tighty-whities back then. I was also in this weird S&M/Asian Supremacist themed short movie when I was living in LA. As this is a photo diary, many of the photographs are shot from the hip, so to speak, but his skill takes these quotidian moments of life changing around him and turns them into something else. The photos weigh heavier than a memory and yet carry a somber lightness that seems to be his quality, an elusiveness I could never quite capture. Patrick’s work has been featured in Foam, Vice, the Hyere’s Festival, and Susan Bright’s "Autofocus: The Self Portrait in Contemporary Photography."


Although not for sale, would Vincent Gallo approve? I must speak for him, when I say Yes.