Horizontal Cities

Artist
2014. 9 - 2015. 4

Horizontal Cities is inspired by the crowded central city of Hong Kong. Behind the fog and ambiguous skyline, there are numerous stories of passengers, busy workers, tramps, and the homeless in gloomy allies of the city. A viewer can change the view between vague city view composed of random combination of the excerpt from "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calbino, and short observations on people from those allies. The piece is developed on Processing with RiTa Library, and multimedia collected in city of Hong Kong.


Concept

It has been 4 months after I settled down in Hong Kong. I had grown in the city where people usually describe as ‘exclusive’ and ‘careless about the preservation of old relics’. By comparison, Hong Kong relatively can be said as an old city.

In fact, the modern history of Hong Kong is not that long. However, Hong Kong somehow seems old. Maybe it’s because of rusty gates, or the sound of a mouse running along the ceiling, runners on the wall of the lanes, stained rice bowls, a file of bamboo poles at construction sites, or dirt reflecting the sunshine on the window.

Nevertheless, admittedly Hong Kong is one of the most advanced cities in the world. Numerous skyscrapers and the Christmas ornaments on the walls, sports cars and ferries, the sound of scratching credit cards, and huge suitcases with products of luxury brands…
 When I stand in front of those tall buildings, I often lift my head up to glimpse the top of the building. Yet, it was still hard to see more than distorted surface of the wall. I felt strange with the fact that there are thousands of people who go up and down every day. Instead, I liked to see between the allies, or in the corner of parks. There are sometimes workers leaning back on the wall for short break, an old man drinking his soup in a small diner, or just streetlight lighting softly from the other alley.


I became depressed as time went by in this city. Conflicts and discrimination, loneliness and competition. I saw exactly the same things back in my hometown. The new city didn’t make me change and the characteristic of cities seem to be similar.
However, the most meaningful thing about Hong Kong was Hong Kong family that let me stay for months. The house was as big as a classroom, with 6 people together, but the family always invited people for the dinner. Once the most packed area in the world, and finally demolished due to its rate of crime rate and drug addicts, Kowloon Walled City, the residents actually share the dinner. After the removal, they recalled the days as happy in the later interview.
When I see the residential buildings, they are so tall and so closely spaced that seem to be able to hear everything in the neighborhood. However, the people inside and the stories are not shown by its nature.

Technology

Processing, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Audition

The piece is mainly made of Processing to interactively combine footage media : excerpts from a novel, essays, modified images of Hong Kong streets, and also recorded sound of the street.
The images including backgrounds are captured mostly in To Kwa Wan, Kowloon and Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island. Cut Out filter in Photoshop is applied on all the photos and all the backgrounds except buildings are removed. Partially used RiTa for the text effects such as markov text combination, fade in/out, shaking motion. 

Outcome

The artwork created on Processing, and the excerpts were exhibited in the hallway of the Department of Art & Technology, Sogang University.