The Monday Media Diet with Vivian Fu
On photography, Bereal and a spell too far
Vivian Fu (VF) is friend of WITI and a LA-based photographer. We asked her to share what is capturing her attention lately. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Vivian Fu and I am just some girl. I was once semi known on tumblr for my photography, which I leveraged to scam my way into working in tech. I guess this makes sense because I have always been really interested in the internet and art. Now I am underemployed, freelancing, and hosting an nft related podcast called JPEG2000 with some guy I met online named Noah Kalina. I guess this makes sense…because I have….always been really interested in the internet….and art…..(also, shout out to our sponsor Context.app).
Describe your media diet.
I spend a lot of time online. This is something a lot of people are made to feel bad about, but my superpower is that being chronically online has only made me smarter <3
There is a lot of information to be gleaned from the internet, and so much culture really lives online (everything seemingly lives online though, so maybe this isn’t that insightful of a thought).
I like theory, but whenever I read it the ideas feel too dense and bogged down by superfluous comparisons that don’t help the reader better understand the actual point. I always think to myself “this could have been a tweet.”
I switch between Discord, Twitter, and Tiktok to learn about new things like emerging culture, music, and technology. Then I pop on over to Instagram to post photos of my cats. When drinking my morning coffee I check my e-mail and read one of the too many newsletters I am subscribed to. Usually I don’t get to them all and they just sit unread in my inbox and it makes me feel stressed.
What’s the last great book you read?
In therapy I have been working through separating what I actually want vs what I *think* I am *supposed* to want. It is probably not something I should admit, but “read more books” is one of those things that I think I must aspire to but I do not actually want to do. Insert John Waters quote about not fucking people who don’t read books here.
I have specific times I like to do specific activities. My favorite time to read a book is when I’m riding the bus or when I’m on a plane. I live in LA and drive everywhere, and the last time I flew was November 2019. I read Tropic of Cancer and I fucking hated it, it was truly torturous and I forced myself to finish because that’s what I am *supposed* to do.
I spend a lot of time looking through photo books, which I started collecting when I lived in San Francisco near Green Apple books. I used to read a lot more when I lived in San Francisco because I rode the bus everywhere. When I first moved to San Francisco in 2012 I bought Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicle (I’m basic <3) and read it on the bus, feeling like a girl in a movie. The problem with that is men on the bus think you’re a movie too, and bother you significantly more when you’re reading a book than when you’re scrolling on your phone. They must have taken that John Waters quote to heart about only fucking people who read.
Recent photo books I bought are:
American Ecstasy by Barbara Nitke of photographs taken in the 1980s on porn sets. I got this book because I really like Larry Sultan’s book The Valley (my hometown), which also documents porn sets.
Barbara Nitke (top), Larry Sultan (bottom)
Deana Lawson’s Aperture Monograph of portraits, with many images taken in domestic settings. I bought this book recently because a.) I always meant to and b.) I was planning on taking some self portraits at my childhood home (in the valley!) and wanted to be inspired by one of the masters.
Deana Lawson (bottom), My own photograph (top)
A Spell Too Far by David Brandon Geeting and Lina Sun Park which is mostly still life photos, but some portraits as well. I bought this book because Dave is a friend, but also because the photos remind me of an Instagram account I like called @chinese_plating that shares images of “20th century chinese food design” found in old magazines.
David Brandon Geeting and Lina Sun Park (top), @chinese_plating (bottom)
Wonderful Days and also Straw Hat Cat by Masahisa Fukase. These are both books of cat photography (j’adore!) that I have always wanted but never purchased because they were out of my price range. I recently bought them after making a few NFT sales of my own photography.
Masahisa Fukase (top), one of the photos i sold to afford the Fukase books (bottom)
What are you reading now?
Before I started writing my responses to this Media Diet, I read my friend Cassie’s first piece in her Substack focusing on compost. It is called The Rot, and you can read it here.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
Since we have already covered that I don’t read, I will instead discuss judging books by their covers/books that I think have cool covers.
Ren Hang (top), Masahisa Fukase (bottom)
My friend has this Ren Hang monograph titled The Brights Light Runs Too Fast, which has a heat sensitive book cover. As you touch and warm up the cover with your hands, the cover image is revealed. I think this is genius because so much of Ren Hang’s work is about bodies and touch, and there is also a nod to censorship (I feel that it is a very Westernized take to suggest the late Chinese photographer’s work is about censorship, but I also acknowledge that the work isn’t NOT about that either).
Masahisa Fukase (mentioning again, because I love)’s Afterwood is a book of cat photography with a fuzzy cover. This is perfect for obvious reasons.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
Texts from their parents tbh.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
I’m not sure if this counts as a “non-famous” app, but I really enjoy using BeReal, which is an app that alerts you and your friends to take a picture at the same time everyday. The picture you take uses both your front facing and back camera simultaneously, creating an image of you and the space you are in.
Plane or train?
Air travel is annoying and uncomfortable. While visiting grad schools a few years ago, I traveled by train and had comedically explosive diarrhea. Now I have negative associations with trains. This is also probably why I decided to not go to grad school too. I’m an Angelino and prefer just driving. Here is a BeReal photo of me sitting in traffic:
What is one place everyone should visit?
Your parents house. They miss you and they’re going to die soon.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Literally NFTs. (VF)
WITI x McKinsey:
An ongoing partnership where we highlight interesting McKinsey research, writing, and data.
Digital transformation on the CEO agenda. What does a successful digital transformation look like? Get up to date on what CEOs and other leaders should know as they embark on the journey, including metrics that matter, common obstacles and how to navigate them, opportunities in tech talent, and more. Don’t miss it.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Vivian (VF)
Why is this interesting? is a daily email from Noah Brier & Colin Nagy (and friends!) about interesting things. If you’ve enjoyed this edition, please consider forwarding it to a friend. If you’re reading it for the first time, consider subscribing (it’s free!).