Just Because: Tricycle Calligraphy

By Jonah Kessel

As a video journalist I’m frequently approached by people asking me to come film — whatever it is they have that’s going on. A Chinese rock band, a new brand or some really exciting business conference are the usual suspects. These people often think their event would be so fun to film, that I would love to do it — for free.

Sadly these people are mistaken and generally speaking whatever guest speaker is at the “Annual Chinese Conference of Bilateral Business” is not actually that interesting.

However, last week while at a small bar in Beijing, a Québécoise approached me and told me he had built a device out of a tricycle that could paint Chinese characters on the ground with water droplets as it was peddled. I stopped for a second and thought about it and my first question was — why?

And his answer was … “because!”

Meet French Canadian Media Artist Nicholas Hanna. This guy decided to build a device for no reason, that doesn’t really serve a clear purpose. So, I decided, this would also be a good time to create a video just “because.”

I wanted to keep it short, sweet and corky. An afternoon filming, a weird soundtrack with an upright bass and a didgeridoo and some editing and we had this fun device on film.

Just Because: Tricycle Calligraphy 水书法器 from Jonah Kessel on Vimeo.

Jonah Kessel Filming on a tricycle

Ironically, I found the best way to film this strange contraption — was on another tricycle, peddled by the days assistant Annie Sallaberry. Now picture both of these tricycles peddling through the old streets of Beijing and you can imagine we were quite the spectacle. As we filmed, people would actually just start following us down the street as if we were the Pied Piper of Chinese people.

As working visual journalists I think its a really great exercise do go out and shoot stuff for fun. Its really easy to get in the habit of only shooting when working. But this two day project was a lot of fun and helped me get back to my roots a bit. It reminded me why we do this in the first place — because its fun.

So — for no reason at all, enjoy.

Kit List for this Project:

Jonah M. Kessel is a Beijing-based freelance visual journalist working with photography, video, print and web design. Follow Jonah on Twitter here and see his web site here.

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