Last night whilst talking to colleagues and students we debated Hong Kong landscape, history, and photographs. I commented that whenever you go to a bookshop in Hong Kong, despite the vast array of books on Hong Kong, typically 50% of what is on the shelves are photo books of Hong Kong. These books are normally contemporary pictures, or a collection of ‘old’ Hong Kong. What is desperately lacking is a contrasting book of old and new.
Fortunately there is a wonderful Flickr group that fills this void. It houses a remarkable collection of photos in which it is possible to trace change, discontinuity, and permanence in the Hong Kong physical and built landscape. One photo that I do not include here shows Chungking Mansions photographed approximately 25 years apart. There is little change.
For Hong Kong people these photos are valuable in dramatic ways. THe cultural history of the territory changes in such a dramatic pace, that these small fragments of the past hold the key to unlocking memories that have been cemented over, lost in the sea, and constructing upon.
For my further musings on the changes to HK places see here. Also some other collections of Hong Kong photographic history here and here.