What are these strange objects doing there, in the middle of the countryside?
series of images originated in a chance encounter I made with an
abandoned bunch of futuristic bungalows in northern Taiwan. The
wide-shot picture depicts one of the first impressions I had of the
place: in the distance, a group of brightly-coloured bulbs still covered
with a film of water that glittered under the yellowish light after the
rain… A surreal vision, in a country where I myself had just landed.
Neighbours of this strange architectural complex were much amused by my
interest in the place – for more than twenty years, they had lived next
to this massive modern ruin, initially built as a hotel complex, part
holiday resort, part amusement park, and never opened.This
series of images was created over a period of two years, and is the
result of several trips there. Where did your successive shoots lead
I started by working on the building exteriors with
“establishing shots” - images that set the stage and create a general
context; next, I focused on the forms themselves, and finally on the
interiors. Each time I returned for a shoot, I discovered new things.
Taiwan’s tropical climate means that life there is always very palpable,
and perhaps even more so in this derelict location. Between visits,
everything seemed to have changed: the vegetation could be all yellow at
a given time, and then all green a few days later; insects, and even
objects, seemed to appear and disappear, like bits of the statues of
monkeys that adorned the roofs and the pool slide… As if the place was
haunted by ghostly presences. Which was actually not far from the truth:
in some of the bungalows, I discovered mattresses, old clothes and
newspapers and even a room fully furnished like an apartment, except
that the “apartments” have no water or power supply, or even glass in
the windows. And then six months later, the dresser, bed, papers… all of
it was gone. Another time, while my head was tucked under the view
camera’s black sheet, I heard footsteps and whispers… when I popped my
head out, all I saw was bushes moving: it was kids in camouflage outfits
using the place as a battlefield to fire plastic bullets at each other…
However much I went around the site again and again, I never knew what I
was going to discover!What do you find so fascinating about these modern ruins?
guess what drew me here initially was the architecture, reminiscent of
the utopian constructions of the 60s - I myself grew up in a house full
of cells and bulbs. These bungalows were built along the same
architectural lines, although the entrance here is a large gate
decorated with a massive dragon, and it seems there were statues of
animals all over the place. A pretty “fusion” village, in a way!
also thought it was fascinating to find ruins in a leading high-tech
country like Taiwan, where most of the stuff we consume in the West is
made (or at least used to be). The contrast is not only noticeable
nationwide, but also on this particular site. The bungalows are located
between an area of modern high-rise housing and a beach where old
Taiwanese peasant women dressed in extraordinary costume fish crabs from
the rocks just below the UFO-like structures.
There’s a kind of
poetry in this place that strikes you in a very direct way: it becomes a
place of sensations, colours, sounds, and texture that you’re entirely
free to explore.Whether in portrait or architecture, you mostly work with a large-size view camera: what is it you like about this format?
enjoy working on portraits and architecture with a view camera: it
offers great image quality, resolution, proper perspective… and most
importantly, the slow pace and long preparation time it requires, with
the distance it creates in relation to the subject, something that is
reflected in the care and precision put into the composition. There’s a
kind of solemnity in the process and result that I like a lot.
Limited edition, numbered and signed. AD of the set by Mynameis.