A road in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. Bence Bakonyi

A photographer’s solo journey leads to an uniquely beautiful take on the country’s landscapes.

Type “street in Hong Kong” into an image search, and you’ll encounter saturated scenes: brightly colored avenues illuminated with glowing signs and filled to the brim with people.

The photographer Bence Bakonyi sees things a little differently. His series, Segue, resulted from a six-month solo journey through China in 2014. He covered around 5,000 miles, starting in Shanghai. From there, he traveled to Mount Huangshan, then on to Lanzhou and the Taklamakan Desert-bordering Dunhuang, and finally to Hong Kong. He encountered the rural and the urban, the populated and the abandoned, gradually proceeding toward more man-made landscapes.

Mount Huangshan. (Bence Bakonyi)
A swimming pool in Jinshan, a Shanghai suburb. (Bence Bakonyi)

But one thing remains constant through the changing scenes: the absence of people. Bakonyi’s journey began with an invitation to an artist’s residency in the Xuhui district of Shanghai. He arrived in the country unable to speak the language. Completely on his own, he found it hard to navigate, and even harder to communicate with the people around him. His work, he says, reflects the process of trying to find his place in an unfamiliar world; he staged his photos without human subjects in order to allude to the isolating experience.

A rooftop in Shanghai. (Bence Bakonyi)

While the project was relatively straightforward in rural areas, like Mount Huangshan, the metropolises posed more of a challenge. Sometimes, Bakonyi tells CityLab, he would set up his camera and tripod and wait up to an hour for a street to clear before capturing the scene.

Bakonyi’s images offer an unusual vantage point: China seen not from the midst of the crowds, but completely apart from them. And though the photographer moves between radically different spaces within the country, his consistent perspective unifies the whole landscape in a way that’s undeniably unique and beautiful.

A bicycle parking lot in Shanghai. (Bence Bakonyi)
A rooftop in Hong Kong. (Bence Bakonyi)
Hong Kong skyscrapers at night. (Bence Bakonyi)

H/t: Wired

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. People wait in line, holding tote bags in the sunshine, outside a job fair.
    Equity

    How 3 Skill Sets Explain U.S. Economic Geography

    Metro areas in the U.S. with higher cognitive and people skills, versus motor skills, perform better economically and are more resilient during downturns.

  2. A man stands next to an electric scooter
    Transportation

    Why Electric Scooters Companies Are Getting Serious About Safety

    Lime has joined rival Bird in establishing a safety advisory board tasked with helping the e-scooter industry shape local regulations—and shake its risky reputation.

  3. Little kids under a blanket.
    Perspective

    How U.S. Child Care Is Segregated: a Brooklyn Story

    At a daycare in a gentrifying Brooklyn area, is the entrance of racially diverse, middle-class families income integration, or more akin to colonization?

  4. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  5. Perspective

    Hurricane Barry: Lessons From a Disaster That Wasn’t

    Hurricane Barry largely spared New Orleans, but it underscored that climate change brings complex impacts and hard choices.

×