The Art of Waiting

As the rainy season accelerates into full gear – as with Bangkok’s near-miss with Typhoon Wutip last week – I’ve been experiencing more of something that I never used to think about: namely, the act of waiting.

Waiting at the MRT Station

Being a California native, I’d rarely been subjected to bouts of weather that disrupted my activities in any major way. True, the freeways in LA and the Bay Area seemed to screech to a halt with every light drizzle, but I felt this more as a minor inconvenience than any serious impediment to my daily activities.

However, there are moments in Bangkok, especially given my car-less lifestyle, where natural events take on a new prominence. I’ve seen fantastic lightning storms of the kind I only encountered previously in glossy magazine spreads. And now, some storms can stop my day in its tracks – though (luckily) generally never for too long, as they tend to ebb and flow in severity, sometimes in a matter of minutes.

Detail from Waiting #26

Brett Amory. Waiting #26 (detail). 2008. Oil on wood. Image by Warholian via Flickr.

There’s a strange beauty in this ad hoc culture of waiting. For one, it’s a shared acknowledgement that an external event is affecting us all in common. No matter where we thought we were heading, we find ourselves caught in a moment of temporary suspension.

Four years ago in San Francisco, I worked at an art gallery that featured the paintings of Brett Amory. He creates hauntingly striking and ethereal images of people waiting, in that delicate moment of transition between one state and another. I am reminded of those paintings very much now.

Just a short blog entry for this month, as I’ve been busy writing posts for East by Southeast, which you can read here, here and here.