I recently was commissioned to produce a status update of sorts and small vignettes of documentary covering work in progress for the construction of the HK-Guangzhou-Shenzhen high speed rail link. The vast majority of the Hong Kong portion of this lies underground, which makes sense given both the lack of space and need to have a terminus somewhere centrally downtown. Fortunately, Hong Kong’s underlying geology is very friendly to tunnelling – I’ve always had the impression a good chunk of the island and Kowloon peninsula is really hollowed out given the number of subways, tunnels, malls and utilities hidden underground.
I thought I’d present this set a little differently, in the vein of variations on a theme: one with, one without man, in similar situations. They might or might not have been the same subject, they but I think each pair of images is somewhat interchangeable depending on the end use intent – sometimes, you want the people, sometimes, you don’t. Each image is of course optimised for the subjects that did eventually get included – compositionally and presentation-wise. You cannot simply add or remove one element and expect the rest of the composition to remain balanced. Construction is a messy but never ending and necessary business so long as the needs of the people keep changing; whilst some images may look familiar, they’re part of a very long term and ongoing project for the same client. One of the challenges during assignments like this is to keep a level of consistency of visual style, but at the same time with little riffs and variations on it to stop the material from becoming repetitive or boring – more so when you’re dealing with the same subject that’s changing at at relatively slow pace because of the scale of the project. Not easy, but very rewarding…MT
Hope those of you who are in Hong Kong are free tomorrow afternoon – a gentle reminder that my exhibition ‘Un/natural’ with Stephen King opens tomorrow at Alisan Fine Arts. The reception is at the gallery from 4-6pm; hope to meet you there! MT
The full press release for the exhibition can be found here.
‘Un/natural’ runs from 5 December 2015 to 9 January 2016 at Alisan Fine Arts, 2305 Hing Wai Centre, 7 Tin Wan Praya Rd, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (+852 2526 1091). Sebastian Turner and
Daphne King Yao are representing me for this series of images, and all are limited to an edition of eight pieces each. The opening reception is from 4-6pm on Saturday 5 December; I’ll be there and all are welcome – please drop in and say hi if you’re in town.
I’m pleased to present my final exhibition of 2015: ‘Un/natural’, a joint show with one of my students – Stephen King*. It runs from 5 December 2015 to 9 January 2-16 at Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong. This follows ‘Connection’ at the Hong Kong Arts Center in June, and ‘The Idea of Man’ at the Rangefinder Gallery in Chicago last month in October.
You might have already guessed from the title image that this is going to be something very different from my normal work.
I’m presenting the second part of the Construction photoessay today – here, the individuals slowly recede into the context of the greater project and become important contributing parts of the whole. The ‘context’ is so large it often overwhelms everything else – I personally find the coordination part of the work amazing because once you’re on site, it’s very easy to get lost in the details. Large prints would of course work best to show the scale of many of these developments, but there are still limitations to the internet 🙂 [Read more…]
This series of images comes from my body of work from the last year-plus for client Chun Wo in Hong Kong; they are the largest local construction company and are mainly involved in large infrastructure projects, including the airport and Central-Wanchai bypass that spans most of the prime waterfront. As many of you will have seen from previous photoessays and posts, my brief with them is an ongoing on that covers several aspects: 1) documenting work in progress in the greater context of Hong Kong, as a historical record; 2) documenting and celebrating the workers who make it all possible; 3) recording the finished projects. Earlier in the year, we held a successful charity exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Center which showcased a limited selection of the work – something like ~100 out of about 1,500 images delivered. I’ve been asked many times if we could share some of those images online for those who weren’t able to make it in person, so here we are. [Read more…]
Following on from the previous photoessay, I’d like to present part two as a counterpoint – both visual and metaphorical. Whereas the previous photoessay was semi-decay and urban wear and tear, this series of images is the shiny, soulless face of modernity. We are still devoid of humans because the environment has almost become inhumanly clinical, yet somehow there remains a sort of stark beauty in what is left behind. Enjoy the idealised utopia!
Ranging from the shiny and complete to the decrepit and the transformation process that takes place in between, today’s photoessay is a deliberately dehumanised look at the the urban landscape. It is a series that intentionally feels both cold and evokes a little deus ex machina feeling – actually not so easy to accomplish in a place like Hong Kong where it is usually impossible to achieve an image without some humans in it! MT
Today’s images are a series of observations of people shot in Hong Kong – it’s not quite the traditionally expected street photography, though neither is it my more abstracted ‘idea of man’ series, either. They are the sort of vignettes of life you get as you pass through the city with an openly observational eye – varying in scale and intensity of personal contact; familiar and unusual. I think this juxtaposition of immense scale and the relative insignificance of the individual being at odds with the lack of personal space is very much Hong Kong, as is the very variety of situations one might encounter within a relatively small radius. Enjoy! MT
This series was shot with a Leica Q Typ 116 and processed with PS Workflow II or the Cinematic workflow in Outstanding Images Ep.5, Processing for style.
On an incredibly blue day in central Hong Kong, I could not help but do some modern Magritte-inspired elements involving the urban environment, layered reflections and the occasional cooperative cloud – there is a sort of sameness to the series, but at the same time a little closer attention will reveal that these images are really quite distinct. I think they are really focused variations on a theme. Enjoy! MT