PUNTOPIA. A new personal project.

My first thought after a 27 year absence from Macau was to return and develop a series I would call Puntopia. A sequel to the quasi-fictional dystopian sci-fi blade runner inspired street photography project I created a few years ago in Hong Kong. A collection with a neo noir vibe. Work I call Neonopolis.

Puntopia I thought could be where I present a sort of futuristic pleasure dome, the place where Neonopolis fat cats and high rollers come to play and gamble away their illicit fortunes.

While cooking up notions of how I would approach this project I was fully aware that Macau was no longer the sleepy quaint Portuguese flavoured backwater I remembered from the early 90’s. Then a quiet weekend getaway. A retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. A laid back sort of place with a pleasant Chinois/European vibe, a few casinos and good Portuguese food.

I knew Macau had modernized. Morphed into a mega Chinese gambling mecca on a scale equal to Las Vegas. It certainly had eclipsed Vegas some time ago in terms of revenues generated. It was this fact alone that made me long to return and have a look. I wanted to be on the streets again to get close up and intimate.

After a 20 minute bus ride from Hong Kong on the new HK-Zuhai-Macau sea bridge (longest in the world) I saw a high rise city looming on the horizon. I thought it was Zuhai China until as we drew closer I realized there ahead in the thick of buildings was the leaf shaped structure of the Grand Lisboa. Was this was Macau! Goodness how it had changed.

Like with all of my street projects it often takes some time before I begin to see the nuances of place and a style emerges. I like to let what I’m seeing and feeling decide the visual narrative/style of the pictures. For example high key, low key. In fact my camera dictates to me how this is going to emerge stylistically. Yes the ‘look’ almost has a life of its own. I don’t ‘try’ to force anything. And I don’t mean the story! Because a lot of what I do today is less about story and more about vibe. The vibe is the story, the narrative is the vibe. The construct of the picture and how I frame eventually becomes central to the way the series emerges photographically speaking. The cameras finds the frame and vibe for me. At least it seems that way to me. I find that a fascinating process. Hence my love for street photography.

(to be continued)

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