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Being Together, Thousands of Miles Apart: 11 Poignant Family Portraits Taken with the Magic of Skype

John Clang Being Together

The Tye family in Paris (and New York)

Technology can do a lot of things, but it can’t physically put you in the same room as someone thousands of miles away on a moment’s notice.

However, one artist figured out a way to emotionally put families in the same room and make it appear as if they’re present in the same space and at the same time.

New York-based photographer John Clang used a webcam to capture live recordings of his family in Singapore, which were then transmitted via Skype to him in Manhattan, where he projected them onto his living space.

“This is how families, dis(membered) through time and space, can be re(membered) and made whole again through the use of a third space, a site that is able to reassemble them together within the photographic space that we call a family portrait,” Clang said.

The complete “Being Together” series of 40 portraits will be on display at the National Museum of Singapore in 2013. Here’s a look at 11 of them:


  • Wong Family, New York 1 of 11
    Wong Family, New York
    "Drawing upon my own experiences of being separated from my family as a New York-based Singaporean," Clang writes, "this work documents and examines our condition of new-wave diaspora - Singaporean families of various races and ethnicities grappling with the same predicament of separation through time and space."
  • Being Together (Family) 2 of 11
    Being Together (Family)
    "In these images," Clang said in The Atlantic, "I am marking the time for these families, enabling them to remember these strange moments of togetherness with the technology presently available. The picture doesn't stop here, it lingers on in their memory. It embraces the intimacy and closeness of a family, no matter how far apart they are."
  • Tye Family, Paris 3 of 11
    Tye Family, Paris
    "This is also an extension of one of the recurring theme of my works," said Clang. "The fascination with the expressions of time and space and how we negotiate our human existences within these two dimensions."
  • Being Together (Mum) 4 of 11
    Being Together (Mum)
    "This work specifically addresses the phenomenon of differing time zones, the different dimensions of our human representations, and how we can finally coexist, albeit in pixilated and two-dimensional forms."
  • Leong Family, Hong Kong 5 of 11
    Leong Family, Hong Kong
    "When I first moved to New York, I had to limit my calls to my parents as overseas calls were very expensive. Every time I call, I [would] time it and make a note, just in case the phone company bills me for more than what I've used. Now I just pick up the phone and call whenever I want to, as though they are in the same city as me," Clang said in The Atlantic.
  • Being Together (Joe) 6 of 11
    Being Together (Joe)
    "The process moved me very much and I had the idea to extend it to other families," Clang said of documenting his time together with his parents through communication technology, and then offering the same portraits to other families.
  • Lim Family, Westport 7 of 11
    Lim Family, Westport
    "During the shooting," he said, "most of [the families] were having fun interacting with each other through Skype. They were a bit puzzled how the image was going to be done.
  • Being Together (Parents) 8 of 11
    Being Together (Parents)
    "But once they start seeing the resulting image, most of them start to see the deep impact of such a session. There's a very deep longing in their sentiments. You can sense that they miss each other very much, and yet it's something we have to accept in the current fast-paced society," he said
  • Krishnan Family, Yokohama 9 of 11
    Krishnan Family, Yokohama
    A side note to come out of the project: Clang said he saw some of the older family members who participated in the project experience "a little tinge of sadness to have [only been introduced to this technology] at their late stage of life."
  • Being Together (Dad) 10 of 11
    Being Together (Dad)
    Alternatively, Clang thinks he might be the sad one: "To be able to witness all these technology progress and wondering what the future looks like, which they may not be able to participate brings a tinge of sadness to me. I think maybe I'm the one sensing the sadness."
  • Goh Family, Bellevue 11 of 11
    Goh Family, Bellevue
    The complete "Being Together" series of 40 portraits will be on display at the National Museum of Singapore in 2013.

All photos used with permission from John Clang

Source: Mashable

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