In today’s world, pollution is discussed in terms like high or low, toxic or just unhealthy, almost accepting it as a part of everyday life and forgetting to ask the basic question: why do we have to live with it?
Big cities have this way of resembling beehives, busy, constantly moving. Most of these urban centers are jarring, fast, harsh, noisy, and unforgiving to all that is slow. Not Shanghai. Shanghai has a gentle flow about it, where people just glide by on their bicycles, slow enough to examine life around them and nod with recognition at friends in their neighborhood. A bicycle and tricycle culture, so much is moved around on wheels. As long as tradition lasts, this will be (at least to me) the greatest charm of Shanghai.
Behind the modern facade of Shanghai and the fashionable lifestyle of its rich, is a world of tradition hidden in the city’s old alleys. Every week when I visit these neighborhoods, I find less and less of them left. The city is changing so rapidly and the new has no room for the old. Modernization is consuming tradition and Starbucks cups are quickly replacing the famous tea containers of the Shanghainese. A paradise for street photographers, I feel so lucky to have lived in Shanghai as long as I have.
When I edit my photos, I set in motion a whole new process that allows me to see beyond the actual image. I begin to feel emotions and to imagine worlds that the image open doors to. So my initial photograph becomes a key, a starter and a catalyst to a brand new process. I leave myself open to what the moment suggests, what level of contrast it wants, what degree of clarity or blur, saturation or absence of color, and what lines to highlight, and inside of all this (which sometimes takes not longer than a few minutes), a new image is born, one that is layered with sketches of imagination and brush strokes of feeling. I attempt through that to marry the past with the now in anticipation of the art that might wish to join my future.
Wishing all my readers and subscribers a wonderful and inspired new year.
All above images were taken with an iPhone during my recent trip to New Zealand and edited with phone apps.
Being in New Zealand feels as close as I can imagine a healthy planet to be. I visited and was enchanted with this beach at Karekare about 20 years ago and coming back to it now, it still is as clean, as unpolluted and as undeveloped as it was back then. What a stark contrast to the pollution we live through in a city like Shanghai, and how refreshing it is to find ourselves under big blue skies.
Merry Christmas to you all from warm and fresh New Zealand. Kiaora!
During the last few days, Shanghai was submerged in a large cloud of gray pollution that seemed to call over terms like ‘apocalypse’ and ‘end of days’ from many of its residents. A look of worry shrouded everyone’s face and all conversations centered around the same theme: the toxic smog. It felt so bizarre to walk around in a dark city with masked people and alarmed eyes everywhere you looked. The pollution was literally off the scales (over 500) and no comforting answers anywhere as to when and if it will end. Now, a few days later, it has dropped to 195, still an alarming number in any country, but here in Shanghai, it calls for a celebration. What kind of world are we bringing our children into? What levels of abuse are we subjecting our planet to in the name of progress, money and power?