D I M E N S I O N S O F U R B A N A E S T H E T I C S
H O N G K O N G
I have never felt salvation in nature. I love cities above all - This or something like this was once said by Michelangelo. And those words express exactly how I feel. I can't help but wonder: how would he feel if he'd been given the opportunity to climb Hong Kong's Victoria Peak and find a panorama at his feet that, by mere power of its uniqueness, emanates grandeur from its every corner, however small it may be? It is not without good reason that Hong Kong, with its urban aesthetics, is titled the world's most vertical city. Maybe Michelangelo would just hold still: silent, amazed and savoring. Sometimes it is silence that gives thoughts and emotions an expression when words are not enough. As is the case with the sight of this visual magnificence. And this is something I experience quite frequently.
Oftentimes I ask myself where this personal fascination with artificial worlds may come from, where its source lies within me. A fascination that incites me to claim, if not assess: Yes, I am a dreamer. For often I catch myself drifting away, envisioning a similar world made up of chosen ingredients, in which I mentally take refuge: city. Perfectly formed Buildings, in their entity forming an optical symbiosis that is even more beautiful. Day. Dusk. Night. Silence. Water. Passing clouds. Atmosphere. Light and shade. Luminescent colors and nocturnal lights contributing the bare essentials to breathe soul into this ensemble. And me, standing right in the middle of it.
It is almost as if I wished to possess the means with which Dom Cobb creates his own fascinating urban world through artificially created dreams in Nolan's "Inception". Not least because of this wish is this movie counted among my favorite works, the ones that inspire me time and again. For me, inspiration counts as one of the most important sources of motivation. Not so long ago I discovered my passion for photography, which has quickly become a very important part of my personality. A part I could not imagine my life without, because in photography I found a tool to channel my fascination, emotions, thoughts and whatever else is in me to the outside and to express myself in a way I believe is at times more direct and unambiguous than my own literal language. Thus, it is easily deduced that my photography concentrates on the subject of the city. Be it the portrayal of aesthetically appealing urban sceneries by night or by day. Be it portraits of people in nocturnal sceneries inspired by numerous movies whirling around inside the movie-obsessed nerd that I am. Or be it the authentic life on the cities' streets: urbanity is a subject that will surely keep me busy for quite a while longer.
Driven by the desire to look beyond my own „backyards” Kiel and Istanbul and by the quest for new inspiration I embarked on a journey to Hong Kong and Dubai in 2012. My gut decision to visit these cities did not disappoint me. What I came upon was not just breath taking like my day at Victoria peak, it is also terrifying to stand in front of a building a stall as the Burj Kalifa. That is: plenty of intuitive moments of urban inspiration. And the camera as a tool and an outlet to express those emotions trough pictures. My equipment was reduced to the bare minimum needed: the reliable Canon 5D Mk II, the 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8 of the same brand, a tripod and neutral gray filter for long exposure during daytime. Bringing us to my preferred method of applying these tools. To me, long exposure is an effective means to transfer to an image that moment of mental expansion of time that occurs after I discovered something and pause for a moment.
It is from these moments during my travels that images resulted which, along with my images from Kiel and Istanbul, I assembled in an album titled “Dimensions of urban aesthetics around the world”. These creations are presented in different formats taken during both day time and night time since it was important to me to adapt my photography to the scenery, not vice versa. Squeezing a setting predestined for a panorama into a standard format simply does not make sense to me.
So, how do I sum it all up? Where does this fascination with urbanity come from? I do not know and I cannot say. I can only say this much: it is there. Personal experience taught me that it is not easy to fathom the source of emotions and feelings. They’re either there. Or they’re not. But not least thanks to photography I know they can be conveyed. And I am more than happy to have the camera as an outlet to do so. It all sounds like naïve city romanticism, city melancholy, whatever. But that’s just the way it is. Even if the subject of urbanity offers enough opportunity to criticize the city by itself, I do not feel it is my duty to do so. Not for the time being. “Dimensions of urban aesthetics” is my photographic disquisition on the beauty of urbanity. Nothing more, nothing less.
Luckily, photography and looking at images also offers lots of room for subjective experiences that do not always have to be congruent with the photographer’s intentions. Everyone discovers something different and sometimes also something personal. And that is the fascinating essence of photography.