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. Traffic-free Times Square in New York City
    Maps

    Mapping How Cities Are Reclaiming Street Space

    To help get essential workers around, cities are revising traffic patterns, suspending public transit fares, and making more room for bikes and pedestrians.

  2. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Maps

    Readers: Share Your Hand-Made Maps of Life Under Quarantine

    As coronavirus transforms our private and public spaces, how would you map what your neighborhood and community look like now?

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×