The aim of this project is to photograph collected samples of roadside vegetation from several districts in Hong Kong located close to or in landfills, container yards, and urban areas. These include Lung Kwu Tan, Tseung Kwan O, Lau Fau Shan, Kwai Chung, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. The plants were easily collected, because the roots and branches were weak and fragile due to the adverse conditions in which they lived. Dust, particles, and toxic gases block the sunlight, and stop photosynthesis, killing roadside vegetation. The same toxins that roadside vegetation absorb, is actually what we breathe on the streets everyday in Hong Kong. The death of vegetation is a reflection of Hong Kong’s abominable air quality.
Polluted plant specimens were photographed using a standardized typological photography methodology. Details of tiny particles and dust covering each sample of roadside vegetation are visible in each photo, emphasizing that vehicle emissions is a main culprit of air pollution in Hong Kong.
The air of a city, generally considered as the spirit of the city, is also invisible, but exists and is alive within us.<>Sixteen years has passed since the sovereignty rights over Hong Kong were returned to China. At that time, the people of Hong Kong, after coming through a centennial of adversities, felt that doomsday had arrived. From 1997 onward, principal officials’ accountability system, mother tongue tutoring, Asian financial crisis, SARS epidemic, 1st July rallies, Lehman brothers, 2008 financial tsunami, HSBC share price collapse, bird flu, moral and national education, air and light pollution…. to today, for the people of Hong Kong, the so-called ‘doomsday’, would certainly be the decay of the spirit of Hong Kong. Though invisible, it stays beside us, aloof.
If ever I have the chance to witness the last glimpse of piercing white light before the doom of Hong Kong, I hope that the people of Hong Kong, from every walk of life, with their limited days on earth, resolve with willfulness to live.
Say goodbye to the outermost city of South China.
For over 100 years, photography has been based on photo sensitive chemicals reacting to lights. However, with the advance of digital imaging, photographic prints are now overwhelmingly inkjet. In 1991, Jack Duganne, a digital print maker in California came up with the name Giclée, a French verb meaning ‘that which is sprayed or squirted’ for his inkjet prints. Giclée prints are now regarded as the high-end inkjet prints within the fine art market.
With that in mind, Kurt Tong is developing the next generation of photo imaging. Moving on from ‘ink squirted onto paper’, Kurt will be utilising dirt. Different adhesives are applied onto traditional Giclée prints and left on various roadsides in order for air pollutants to organically bind to the prints. Hong Kong was chosen as the first test city since it has one of the worst air qualities in relation to GDP per capital in the world.
To give credibility to the technique, Saleté, French for ‘dirt’ has been chosen for its name. Future prints will also utilize burnt bugs in street lamps and reclaimed land dust. (The above statement was originally submitted into the WYNG Masters Award. Kurt Tong has employed a satire frame of the current fine art print market as a vehicle to examine current air quality issues in Hong Kong and to physically visualise existing air pollutants.)
Kurt became a full-time photographer in 2003. He was the winner of the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award with his first picture story documenting the treatment of disabled children in India. He has worked for many NGOs and covered stories from female infanticide to ballroom dancers.
He gained his Masters in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006 and began working on more personal projects. He has since been chosen as the winner of Photograph.Book.Now competition, the Hey, Hot Shot! competition and the Jerwood Photography Award for his project People’s Park, a wistful exploration of the now deserted Communist era public spaces. In Case it Rains in Heaven, explores the practice of Chinese funeral offerings, has been widely exhibited and features in several public collections. A monograph of the work was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2011.
His more recent work, The Queen, The Chairman and I, a multilayered, narrative picture book that examines the story of Hong Kong of the last 100 years, and the Asian Diaspora, through the lives of his own family, is presented in the form of a Chinese teahouse installation where the story is shared. The project has been exhibited across 5 continents, most recently at the Victoria Museum in Liverpool, United Kingdom and Galleri Image in Denmark.
Much of Kurt’s recent work, while remaining photographic in essence, has moved towards installation and sculptural-based practice, pushing the boundaries of the medium. His new work will debut at the Identity Art Gallery, Hong Kong in February 2014.
Kurt is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in New York, The Photographer’s Gallery in London and by Identity Art Gallery and Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong.
The art project took the form of an open call, through social media, for creative photographic submissions responding to the theme of environmental air pollution in Asia. Sites such as Facebook, Weibo and Douban were used. Several dozen submissions from around the world, from Beijing to Hong Kong, Kathmandu to Berlin, London to Madrid, were received. An aim of The Big Mist is for participants to use performance and humour in the photographic form as a challenge to over-industrialisation and the pollution it brings. It also acts as a collective silent cry.
The art project is ongoing and more photos will continue to be added. An independent magazine The Big Mist will be published in February 2014 to coincide with the first anniversary of this project.
The Big Mist Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/449960541741862/
The Big Mist Douban Album: http://www.douban.com/photos/album/87029203/
In 2008, together with Chinese American artist Elaine W. Ho, Gao founded the arts group LING & COMMA whose primary interest is to investigate issues of female identity, body-politics, space and interaction with the everyday. Gao Ling’s prominent works include the widely exhibited and published Nv Quan. In 2009, she was invited as a visiting artist and photographer to PROGRAM Berlin and Kontemporar gallery to join the project PUBLIC Research. During that time she began the art project Let Out A Yawn. Two of her works Nv Quan and Hey! TTTTouch Me! are included in the traveling exhibition WOMEN我們 which premiered in Shanghai in 2011, traveled to San Francisco and is currently on view in Miami. n 2012, she collaborated with the NGO Shanghai Nvai to launch the performance/protest “Occupy Shanghai Subway: It’s A Dress, Not A Yes”.. Using Gao’s art piece in Hey! TTTTouch Me! the performance/protest provoked a national discussion, and was featured in international media such as the BBC and the Economist. Her work was reviewed in the contemporary arts journal Yishu in 2012. In 2013 she was interviewed by the Asia-Pacific Research Centre of the Tate Modern which is one of the leading centres for research in visual art and museum studies.
But wait! Let’s forget all the bad news for a while. Can we try to confront this issue positively and express the need to protect ourselves in a creative and fashionable way?
In my Fashion Cover-up project, I invited five people with very different characters and occupations and created five unique outfits for them. The outfits serve both to protect and beautify the wearers. Instead of showing the sad and ugly side of air pollution, which everyone knows, I prefer to address this social issue in an alternative way, one that will arouse our government’s attention.
* Data from Transport Department http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/environment/air/airquality.htm
Leo is an enthusiastic photographer who tries to connect with people more deeply with photographs. In 2012, he started a photo studio, mainly focused on portrait and reportage photography. His photos are featured in Leica Fotografie International Master Shots Gallery and Lens Folio Asia Exhibition. Awards include Nat Geo Hong Kong Photo Competition 2013 (Champion and finalist) and Final 100 of The Other Hundred Photobook Project 2013. He is also a finalist of WMA Open Photo Contest 2013.
In October 2013, Leo went to Yunnan Province, China and did a personal photo project called Beautiful Strangers for Habitat for Humanity China. In 2014, he plans to do more photo projects for different charity organizations.
I used the idea of putting Hong Kong in a bottle with smoke emitting from it to communicate the idea that we are trapped in middle of a concrete jungle, walking in street canyons where the wind doesn’t blow. We are actually living in a bottle but we just have not realized it yet.
Currently Tommy is a working photojournalist at two Venezuelan schools — Colegio Bellas Artes and Colegio Mater Salvatoris — where he documents every significant activity and event and compiles a digital yearbook for each, fully designed and produced by him. As a professional photographer he has worked on social events, portrait shoots, weddings and underwater projects. In 2013 Tommy sat on the jury of II Concurso de Fotografía CBA 2013, a photography contest in Venezuela . He visits Hong Kong once a year so he still feels Hong Kong is his homeland.
If development merely means building more big cities and converting green belt areas into urban ones, destroying suburbanite life and culture, such development can only bring temporary solutions in the form of a seemingly more comfortable life, more efficient consumption and easier planning. However, we are, indeed, over-drafting for resources that should be for future generations, leaving instead environmental damage that is irreversible. Spiritual development, therefore, is more important. It is achieved through learning to care for and bless each other.
Ducky participated in and organised the first Hong Kong International Photo Festival in 2009. He has been the recipient of many awards including being a winner in multiple years of The Society of Publishers in Asia – Excellence in Feature Photography. His work has been presented in various exhibitions in Hong Kong, Japan and France and has been acquired by private collections and by museums.