The Collective: Auli Sinaga

By Sydney Vargas

For Auli Sinaga, photography began at a very young age. She has fond memories of her father giving her her first film camera in seventh grade. Yet, it wasn’t until very recently that she legitimately called herself an established photographer. 

Along with her many roles such as a full-time student and Japanese sushi bar waitress on the weekends, she admits she tires easily. “I don’t really have days off,” Sinaga said. By allotting a photography class a semester, she finds a way to ensure time for her art amidst her busy life. Photography classes mean a great deal to her as she always seeks to learn the technical aspects of photography. “I just wanted to be educated by professionals. I am very good with directions. I strived to learn the rules. There’s never any harm in learning more. Every time I take a photography class I learn something new.”

Her hesitation to join a studio light class on campus translated to one of her greatest successes yet. “I was really intimidated when I came into studio lighting because it’s super technical. I didn’t know anything. I was really, really scared.” Professor of photography, Ardon Alger exposed her to great techniques as well as great boosts of confidence. “By the end of the semester Professor Ardon was like ‘submit these photos to the photo show they are really good!’ And it turns out I won an award for the advanced category. It was so rewarding.”

Her style of bold, unapologetic colors, contradict her rather calm demeanor. “Tyler the Creator and Solange are kind of my inspiration for that. The way they present color, ok like that’s what’s up! It’s nice. It’s bright. It’s there. It’s not ah, what’s the word? Corny! They’re not corny. So yeah, I don’t really take black and white there’s a time and place for that.” She prefers shooting people over objects and scenery. The models are always posed in vibrant clothing against an even brighter backdrop.

Auli’s work typically tends to only feature women of color. The Sinaga family migrated from their home of Indonesia to America when Auli started kindergarten in 2001. Auli was insecure about her darker complexion when she was younger.  Her darker skin made her feel ostracized even in her own family. Admitting to even once using whitening creams to lighten 

Hail to the King

BY Hanajun Chung

*Originally written on March 21, 2017.

Man-becoming-monster narratives have revealed and presented a darker side of the human condition that’s not exclusive to fiction. One way is through the war perspective. Modern audiences understand the harsh realities and collateral damage—be it physical, psychological or societal. Films such as “Apocalypse Now,” “The Deer Hunter” and “Platoon” are classics in portraying the loss of innocence and deeper descent into madness due to wartime—with the connection to Vietnam being both intentional and tonally accurate. “Kong: Skull Island” wants real hard to enter into that pantheon, despite the trailers featuring big monster action. With too many characters and an overabundance of bland motivations, it’s hard to connect with many of them. But when the film embraces the B-movie spirit of big silly monster action and adventures of Toho Pictures, it’s worth the price of admission.

In an effort to discover the truth about a secret island with almost otherworldly habitation, a group of scientists and researchers are escorted to said location by a group of soldiers and a tracker. When the fleet is unknowingly attacked by Kong during their entry and left for dead, the platoon's leader Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson)—despite everyone’s hesitation—leads a hunt against Kong prior to escaping.

As soon as the film brings everyone to the island, “Kong: Skull Island” picks up after a slow, somewhat choppy beginning. While it’s understandable that the film wants the audience to know and understand everyone go-ing on this expedition, the introductions seem more like genre checkmark rather than reveal any deeper motivations outside money and fame.  

There are only two characters in the film that have a definitive, borderline interesting arc—WWII pilot Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) and Kong. Don’t be fooled by the marketing, the film’s true focus is these two. And really, it’s when these two show up in which the film is excellent.

Reilly is easily the film’s MVP from the cast. In one look, Reilly can convey humor, sadness, and longing, providing a much-needed pathos that most viewers could understand—silli-ness aside.

Industrial Lights and Magic did a stunning job realizing Kong, assisted by the fantastic facial-capture by actor Toby Kebbell (whose human character is completely wasted).

Jordan Vogt-Roberts does a great job in providing multiple perspectives during these sequences that it provides dimensions in scale, interest and overall personality to what could’ve been a dull monster movie. Plus the film is gorgeously shot, featuring a ton of color and style, unafraid to stage the action during the day.

There’s some interesting anti-war subtext going on the film, but it feels uneven when considering the monster stuff. Ideas such as foreign occupation, wartime ethics, and the overall feeling being on the losing side had potential. But when you have a film in which a building-sized ape needs to beat up other monsters in order to set-up the inevitable film in which he fights Godzilla (Toho’s most famous creation), it’s not all that hard to see why they went with the king.

Grade: B-

Fate of the Family

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