Marcin Klocek: Down in Hong Kong

DIn this densely urbanized city of skyscrapers, where a 100 m tall building is called “midrise” people often need to look high up to see a patch of sky. Therefore, quite understandably, they rarely look down, below their 1,6m eyesight level while going, or rather running about their daily businesses. This lower or pavement level Hong Kong is however no less interesting than the glittering skyscrapers of Central, breathtaking skyline of Hong Kong Island seen from Tshimsatsui or beautiful, natural vistas of see and sky meeting among the scattered islands, which can be admired from the base of the Giant Buddha on Lantau. Sometimes maybe even more interesting and certainly – much less known. It is very down to earth, both in literal and metaphorical sense. One could even say that this low, street level reveals a true nature of Hong Kong. It may be debatable as Hong Kong is defined both by what is down and up, however what you can see “down” is very true and honest, natural, not “designed” and therefore for me a value in itself, even if it is rarely “beautiful” in classical sense

When I came to Hong Kong, I made to myself a solemn promise to carry my SLR camera with me always and everywhere just in case there may be this one in a 100 years chance of getting a shot, which would win me a Pulitzer Prize or World Press Photo award. Or be printed on the cover of National Geographic. Or something like this… For some time I tried to fulfill this promise, but could not manage for long. Carrying a heavy bag with a camera body, several lenses and many rolls of films (yes, I still used a film camera during my early years in Hong Kong) was not something what was reasonable to do every day on the same well-known way to my architectural office. And waiting 100 years for this unique occasion began to seem a bit long. Obviously, I did have my camera when travelling or trekking around Hong Kong on weekends or holidays. Those trips, however were always planned to reach some “destination”, even if remote and not often visited – a beautiful summit, nice beach, old temple or a toilet made entirely of gold (seriously). In short – a place which without doubt had been photographed before for better or worse, but for sure many times. A place, which I CHOSE to visit. 

Then suddenly, almost before I noticed, this initial idea of having a camera ALWAYS with me materialized automatically with sophisticated smartphones being equipped with cameras of higher and higher resolutions. Finally, it meant that I will not lose my 1 in 100 years shot (if it ever happens), but also that while waiting for it I will be able to get snapshots of whatever catches my attention anywhere and anytime. And what often caught my attention were vistas or compositions popping up unexpectedly in places looking ordinarily for the first glimpse but revealing its second nature when looked at more carefully or from unconventional angle, from pavement level or from above.  Places, which in a way – CHOSE ME. 

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