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The Photos of Madi Ju and Patrick Tsai

Madi Ju and Patrick Tsai capture the loving and longing of a very modern romance on film...

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by Shane O'Reilly, Editor, Dublin for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2007
we couldn't imagine our life after we went back, there were too much pressures, job, art, visa problems, etc. we even didn't know if we could live together easily
by Shane O'Reilly, Editor, Dublin for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2007
we couldn't imagine our life after we went back, there were too much pressures, job, art, visa problems, etc. we even didn't know if we could live together easily

I came across this beautiful website some time ago and it seemed that the spirit of what I had liked so much about the Internet and about photography, those wandering sleepy feelings of love and adventure, were captured so creatively and effortlessly there. Through their interests in photography, a connection between both Madi and Pat was immediately struck and beyond this, they began a soul searching adventure, the camera mapping out each and ever personal twist and turn. Here is a small introduction by nerve.com and Pat himself.

"The ecstatically romantic story of Madi Ju and Patrick Tsai (Pat Pat) tells you everything you need to know about the inspiration behind their gleeful photography. Taiwanese-American Pat Pat was raised in California and schooled in New York. Jolted by the Iraq War, he packed up and moved to Taipei to seriously pursue photography. Three years later, he met Madi, who lived in China, on the Internet. They rendezvoused in Hong Kong, fell in love, quit their jobs and struck out on a pan-Asian adventure together. With the mountain of photos produced during the trip, they settled in Guangzhou, a provincial capital in southern China, and started a studio together called My Little Dead Dick. They recently returned from Tibet and Nepal (a trip that Pat Pat says was just "for fun," as if everything that preceded was anything but), and they're now preparing to move to a small town by the sea. "That's where I'm going tomorrow," says Pat Pat. "We will look for a new apartment there."

Shane O'Reilly: How exactly did you and Pat meet? And, what was the attraction that made you both take such drastic turns then in tour lives to commit to each other like that?
Madi Ju: From the very beginning, I created an online magazine named after17 with my friends, which is collecting and introducing female artists' works, and we talked about girls' life attitude. After one year anniversary of the mag, we are thinking of making a boy issue, so I am searching some photographers on Flickr, photography is the main part of the mag, then I visited Pat Pat's Flickr website, I found a strong connection in his photos, he shot some boys in Taipei while I shot some interesting girls' life in Guangzhou(a big city in South China). Then I sent him Flickr mail to tell him about my mag, he seemed too excited to get back to me, then I understood that he had already tried to contact me almost at the same day I wrote him. So its where our connection began.

Madi ju and patWe talked on the Internet, and exchanged our ideas of photography. He was kind of bored of his life in Taipei at the time, and I had my own problems in my life, we both thought we wanted to have some changes. When we first talked about meeting, I thought it's crazy and impossible, cause I've experienced some long distance relationships and I didn't like them, and I don't believe in Internet love. But finally we met, anyways we need to give each other a chance, and we were really curious to meet each other. So we met in Macau for a weekend trip, then he came to Guangzhou with me, for a week, then I accompanied him to HK airport to go back to Taipei.

We shot almost 20 rolls of film in those 10 days, the photos are so different from what we had before, and we felt really excited to shoot together, so we created our Flickr account and our studio "My Little Dead Dick". After that, he decided to finish his life in Taipei and moved to Guangzhou.

SO'R: What were the highs and lows of your time together, traveling across Tibet ...?
MJ: We are both kind of people who like to try new life and who need to have something to expect, so every time we traveled to a new city, it would make us excited. After he moved to Guangzhou, I quit my job a month later, and we began to travel from Chengdu, Tibet, to Nepal. We had big problems at the end of our trip. As we faced to each other for 24 hours everyday, and we couldn't imagine our life after we went back, there were too much pressures, job, art, visa problems, etc. we even didn't know if we could live together easily. We almost broke up at that time, then we decided to try again. We decided to move to Xiamen, where we are living now. It's a city near the beach, in South of China. And it's the nearest city to Taiwan, so for Pat, he could easily get used to the life here.

Madi juThat's the most difficult time for us, we need to start everything here in a whole new city, but now we had just celebrated our one year, and everything's getting better.

SO'R: Do you think that Internet dating and soul searching, as a whole, stands a chance in comparison to your average date scene formulated through bars and nights out?
MJ: Emm...I said I don't believe in Internet love, even I spent most of my time with Internet. I had an online mag, and I always use Internet to contact some artists or some interesting people which is very far from me. I think its much more easy to connect by Internet, people are more open on the Internet, and they used your work, your talking and thinking to know you, that's much more like a soul searching, and its really easier to get the soul. So that's how we could find our connection. But finally, we should face some daily problems, living together, money, job, each other's bad habits. But for every relationship, no matter how you met each other, you need to face to the real life in the end, a relationship is not only about romance.

SO'R: Apart from the text on your site, there are beautiful pictures documenting lazy sleepy moments but also very personal and energetic moments, what got you both into photography and what inspires you to direct the camera in the particular ways that you do?
MJ: I am not a professional photographer and I never had any educational background in art. My major at college is French literature and culture. The courses are very open, so I had many chances and time to do what I want. I always wanted to be a journalist, in college I spent most of my time doing online visual magazines with friends, so that's how they showed me the magic of photos. Then I began to use Lomo cameras, and then some other film cameras, then I had my own magazine "after17", and I always worked as an editor for a living. So I shot for my own mag, they are all about girls, the interesting and special girls around me, then they began to be exhibited.

Pat has always wanted to make film, he shot films since he was very young. He went to New York University to study film production. But after his graduation, he found he couldn't involve in the commercial film industry, and also because he had his own attitude toward America's war to Iraq, so he left America for Taipei, that's his parents' hometown and he also wanted to take a look at the Taiwan movie industry, cause he loves Tsai Ming Liang's movies. Then he began to take his photography more seriously, he made some small solo show in Taipei, they are all about Taipei young life in his eyes. I always love his humor and his stories in the photos. It's a kind of continue of his movie.

Our studio My Little Dead Dick, we just naturally shot each other when we first met, but the photos turned out to be very great for us, so we continue to shoot our life, when we traveled, when we moved. So it finally became our photo diary, and it shows like a story for others, someone wrote us to ask how the story goes on, and they hope we won't break up. We always shoot our happiness, but there are also and for sure some bad times in our relationship. But we couldn't shoot that, we want to share joy with others, so we write sometimes.

SO'R: So how is the relationship going in general then? And, where is Pat?
After one year, everything goes a little bit stable than before. But we still don't know where we are going in the future. But we still have our dream of life and dream of photography. We've just celebrated our first anniversary at Lamma Island in HK where we first met, and now, Pat went back to America for a month, to meet his family and to have a road trip with his band friends.

SO'R: What is next for you, and/or BOTH of you?
We still don't know how's next, maybe we will stay in Xiamen to end of this year, we will shoot an advert for a Chinese company who has a new brand for young people. And we have some plans and some invitations of exhibitions and books, but we are still not sure of them. And we are planning to travel to Yunnan for a month, maybe the most beautiful place in China. We want to meet more people to shoot, we will shoot something new in the new yea

Thank you again to both Pat and Madi for their time, principally Madi.
If anyone is interested in viewing their work it is at www.mylittledeaddick.com

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Shane O'Reilly
Editor, Dublin

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