Drift City (Tallinn, Estonia)

Drift City (Tallinn, Estonia)

2016

Drift City (Argyll, Scotland)

Drift City (Argyll, Scotland)

2015

Drift City (Paris, France)

Drift City (Paris, France)

2015

Drift City (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Drift City (Reykjavík, Iceland)

2014

Drift City (Iceland)

Drift City (Iceland)

2014

Drift City (Nagoya, Japan)

Drift City (Nagoya, Japan)

When I was studying architecture, the history book always said Imperial Hotel by Frank Llyod in Tokyo, Japan was destroyed by the earthquake! You can imagine my excitement when I see this building live in front of my eyes, it is like witnessing a ghost from the past that is supposed to be dead but now resurrected and speaking to you alive! The empire of yesterday is no longer exist and now we finally understand all imperialism eventually will led to perish and destruction, so let’s keep it only in our dream, the time and memory of a bygone era. But the dream empire is actually an eternally myth that never die, it hides in the corner of the forest, waiting for the return of its guests from yesterday.

以前讀建築的時侯有讀過 Frank Llyod Wright 在日本東京的「帝國酒店」,建築史書都說它在地震中給破壞毀滅了! 原來它現保存在日本名古屋「明治村」的建築老人院內…昨日的帝國已經不再存在了,現在我們明白每一個帝國到最終的結局都只有破壞及滅亡,那麼就讓它長存在我們夢裏面吧,昨日的時代、昨日的記憶。但夢想的帝國其實是一個永恆不滅的神話,它躲藏在森林的一角,靜俏俏地等待著昨日客人的回歸。

2013

Drift City (Singapore)

Drift City (Singapore)

2012

Drift City (Kenya, Africa)

Drift City (Kenya, Africa)

2012

Drift City (Penang, Malaysia)

Drift City (Penang, Malaysia)

Constructed before 1893, the home of Cheah Tat (Tek) Soon was the first four-storey private residence in Penang. In 1917, the property was converted into a hotel known as Bellevue Hotel and Raffles-by-the Sea. In 1920, the building housed the Shih Chung Primary School. Today, this building on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (formerly Northam Road), is expected to be restored as a heritage hotel. (Source: Penang Museum).

2011

Drift City (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Drift City (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Schroder House designed by Gerrit Rietveld is often considered as the iconic building of Modernism and a masterpiece of De Stijl movement. Imagine the world is restricted into only 3 directions X, Y, & Z axis, that is what this building is about; restrictive and might not be comfortable after a while. I borrowed the dog from a lady who was walking it leisurely when I was busy composing the photo. In my mind I was thinking, people controls architecture and architecture come around controlling people.

2008

Drift City (Ginza Onsen, Japan)

Drift City (Ginza Onsen, Japan)

The hot spring hotels were organized along a river and connected by small bridges. The architecture style is mostly from the Showa period (1926-89) and I felt like going back in time. I heard the great Japanese manga master, Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿), came here to research for his animation, Spirited Away (千與千尋). In that story, ghosts and various spirits crossed a bridge to enjoy hot spring every night. One dark snowy night, I slipped outside with my costume, the staffs from the hot spring hotel peeped out curiously, probably wondering if the spirits have returned for real from the movie.

2008

Drift City (Hanoi, Vietnam)

Drift City (Hanoi, Vietnam)

There were captured American tanks and helicopters on display at the Army Museum; the center piece is a large pyramid like installation made by wreckages of American war planes that were shot down during the Vietnam War. This place reminds me of the post 9/11 world we are currently living in, architecture shifts role from symbolizing progress into becoming part of the weapon system.

2010

Drift City (Lijiang, China)

Drift City (Lijiang, China)

The old city of Lijiang transformed itself into a giant tourist town once elevated into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is crowded all the time and I finally found my peace at the Lugu Lake during sunset hours when most tourists left for dinner. The water was shallow; a dog was chasing me and barking at the left hand side of my boat, making the experience rather surreal. I was thinking this would be as close as I get to Shangri-la, if it really exists.

2009

Drift City (Kaiping, China)

Drift City (Kaiping, China)

Kaiping is another UNESCO World Heritage Site declared in 2007. The Diaolou cluster (fortified multi-story tower) was mostly built from 1920s to 1930s by Chinese laborer who earned their livings in North America. When these workers returned to their home town villages, they often stopped by Hong Kong and bought books and postcards. Local builders who constructed these towers would copy from these architectural images. The result is a wonderful hybrid of western and eastern architectural style. This place is actually about separation, longing and reunion.

2007

Drift City (Finse, Norway)

Drift City (Finse, Norway)

Finse is located 1,222m above sea level. When I passed through it in June, there was still plenty of snow on the mountain which seems so strange to me. The area is only reachable by train. Once I got off I immediate felt the silence of this amazing place. There was not a sound in the middle of noon except the crackling noise of snow being crushed underneath my boots. My wife Margaret and I climbed over knee deep snow and finally found this spot next to the Finsevatnet Lake, the perfect place for a cup of hot coffee.

2006

Drift City (Prague, Czech Republic)

Drift City (Prague, Czech Republic)

Prague is famous for being a romantic city but it was packed with tourist during my visit, I was one of them. To enjoy a moment of romanticism and solitude, I had to wake up at 4 am to have this photograph taken. Sometimes it is not that good to be famous.

2006

Drift City (Venice, Italy)

Drift City (Venice, Italy)

Burano is a little island located northeast of the main island Venice, it is famous for lacework and its many colorful houses. The scale of the buildings is smaller than usual, giving the town a very cozy and toy house like feeling. Like in Venice, many of these houses were unoccupied most time of the year, they were empty shells wishing for the return of their owners.

2007

Drift City (Kyoto, Japan)

Drift City (Kyoto, Japan)

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大) is located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. Hundreds of Torii lined the mountain of this Shinto shrine, forming a spectacular tunnel. Moving forward in space and time, passing Torii after Torii with the shimmering sunlight bouncing off the orangey red beams, I did feel a moment of enlightenment. That was before I started walking back down the mountain and saw the names of the many individual companies carved on the back of the Torii. All wishing for good wealth and fortune; like the sun beam, the Utopian feeling suddenly vanished without a trace.

2007

Drift City (Stockholm,  Sweden)

Drift City (Stockholm, Sweden)

Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms Stadshus) was constructed from 1911 to 1923 using eight million red bricks. I was carrying a walkie-talkie on my neck so I can communicate with the photographer who stationed at the top of the tower, I would know exactly when and where to turn when told. Life is like walking into a labyrinth sometime except there will be no voices from above telling you which way to go.

2006

Drift City (Munich, Germany)

Drift City (Munich, Germany)

Long time ago there was a prince who appreciated art very much. He built this fairy tale castle named Neuschwanstein (New Swan Stone Castle) based on an opera he loved and left state matters ignored. The prince was eventually ousted by the cabinet and died mysteriously. A tour guide said the castle in Disneyland was modeled after this one. I hiked an hour to the top of the mountain, wondering if all fairy tales should have a happy ending.

 2006

Drift City (London, United Kingdom)

Drift City (London, United Kingdom)

The average life span of a skyscraper is supposed to be longer than that of a person. Every time I saw a building being demolished, it made me feel sad, buildings are supposed to be standing up not coming down. There seems to be two timelines running parallel of each other for people and architecture. Occasionally the two timelines intertwined into each other, forming interesting stories.

2006

Drift City (Helsinki, Finland)

Drift City (Helsinki, Finland)

Countries in northern Europe are puzzling. Finish people have high educational level and monthly salary, yet the suicidal rate of the country is ranked among the world top 10. This photo was taken in the evening but the sky was so blue it made me lost the sense of time. No wonder I was so tired in Helsinki, everyday was an extra long day completely forgetting the time to go to bed.

2006

Drift City (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Drift City (Copenhagen, Denmark)

One might forget about the power of nature after living in the city for too long. But once in a while nature will always remind us its true might such as in the forms of typhoon, hurricane, and earthquake, etc. Capturing the power of the wind and turning it into a tool for human is an ingenious idea. This piece of architecture is a good example of how the marvel of nature and building peacefully blend into one. 

2006

Drift City (Hamburg, Germany)

Drift City (Hamburg, Germany)

2006

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

There were so many people running away from the Soviet controlled East Berlin back in 1961, the authority eventually built the Berlin wall to prevent people from getting into West Berlin, many died during the quest for freedom. It is amazing how a simple architectural construct such as a wall could become the separator of confinement and freedom.

2006

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

2006

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

2006

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

Drift City (Berlin, Germany)

2006

Drift City (Santorini, Greece)

Drift City (Santorini, Greece)

The intensive Mediterranean sun beaten down from the sky, cooking the white pavement on the street. Tourists fleeted like exposed roaches took refuge in the restaurants leaving the streets abandoned. The guidebook said this spot offers the most beautiful sunset of the world. I went back that evening, all hopes were lost; everybody seemingly was given the same advice.

2005

Drift City (Taiwan)

Drift City (Taiwan)

Taipei 101 is the tallest building of the world! the headline in 2004 said. It held on to its World Tallest title until beaten by Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. But all is not lost; there are plans to build five additional stories.  A growing tower, the race is on.

2004

Drift City (Taipei, Taiwan)

Drift City (Taipei, Taiwan)

2004

Drift City (Okinawa, Japan)

Drift City (Okinawa, Japan)

The volcanic rocks brutally chewing up the bottom of my shoes as I stood looking at the Pacific Ocean. The island was sandwiched by two tropic cyclones and sudden gust of wind kept blowing into my chest causing me to sway back and forth. Looking out from the window of my headpiece, I saw the power of nature and worried what would happen if I fell into the ocean. 

2004

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

The outdoor temperature was 4 degree Celsius and I only had my paper building to keep me warm in the Forbidden City. A security guard with long overcoat discovered the skyscraper and shouted angrily at me What the hell are you doing? I immediately replied with an equally angry voice I am taking architecture photographs for a magazine! I dare not tell him I am an artist fearing that I might get arrested. The guard left me alone since I was only doing a commercial project. This gave me a new insight into what is allowed and what is forbade in the highly commercialized Forbidden City.

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Beijing, China)

Drift City (Beijing, China)

2003

Drift City (Singapore)

Drift City (Singapore)

A security guard rushed towards me as I was posing for the fourth photographs at The Merlion site. He told me I was not permitted to take photograph since I might scare the tourists... I asked a local man who happened to be sitting at the outdoor cafe if he was frightened by my presence, he said No. Some country will take extra steps to ensure the comfort of their citizens.

2002

Drift City (Singapore)

Drift City (Singapore)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

I came across interesting comments and questions while wandering around Yu Garden in Shanghai. A local resident saw me and shouted Look! Performance Art! The gardener asked me secretly if I came through the front gate with the suit on. She promised not to tell the authority. A foreign lady questioned me if I was protesting against the Chinese government. Finally, a Japanese tourist asked me politely if she could take pictures with me, free of charge?

Photo: Caroline Cheng

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

Drift City (Shanghai, China)

2002

Drift City (Macau)

Drift City (Macau)

Imagine a person with no body but only a face; that is what happened to the Ruins of St. Pauls built in 1602. The main hall of this church was burnt down in 1835 and only its facade remains. This frontage of this building is now listed as a World Heritage site, but it is not exactly a building anymore. The space beyond the facade shall remind forever a fantasy in the imaginative mind of its visitors.

2003

Drift City (Macau)

Drift City (Macau)

2003

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

The policemen armed with AK-47 machine guns yelled at me as I was putting on my Building Man suit at the Pyramid. They said to take picture I needed to buy a license which would cost several thousand US dollars. They took me and my wife to their office when I told them it was doing an art project; they did not know what to do with me. After two hours they finally realized they cannot extort any money out of me and let me go. I then rented two camels at US$60 and rode to the back of the Pyramid and quickly got this photograph taken.

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

Drift City (Cairo, Egypt)

2002

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2000

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2000

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2000

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2000

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2000

Drift City (Hong Kong)

Drift City (Hong Kong)

2010