A simple time-lapse video taken from the balcony of my Shanghai apartment in 2013
Winter Is Blue
Very rough, handheld phone footage taken on Christmas Day, 2014, in the Don River Valley, Toronto.The hauntingly beautiful 1966 song, “Winter is Blue” by Vashti Bunyan was playing in my head even as I edited the footage.
And The News From BBC
I made this little video in 2013 for ‘international day’ at a primary school in Shanghai. I provided the voice-over and wrote the poem which focuses on an idealised version of the United Kingdom. In my defence, I left England in 1985 and have spent the majority of my adult life in Asia, so perhaps it was inevitable that I would write a saccharine, politically incorrect poem which reinforces stereotypes in the nation of my birth and childhood.
I arrived in Shanghai in 2010. I planned to stay for a few weeks. I left six years later. There were two reasons for this: the first was personal, the second was Shanghai Frames. I was constantly searching for a way to make digital photography unique, something that could not be replicated simply by printing off another copy. I started shooting the old lanes and communities of the city which were being demolished en masse to make way for modern high-rise homes and offices. I photographed the lanes before, during and after demolition. Wandering through the remains of the semi-demolished Lane Of The Hopeful Heart I found a window frame, made of Chinese fir – as old as the lane itself. I started to collect as many of these frames as possible. I paid the demolition crew to save the best ones for me. No two frames were identical and they came in all shapes and sizes. I used the photographs, taken on the lanes before demolition, to fill the frames. In several images you can even see the frame pictured in the lane before demolition. I spent the next year utterly obsessed with shooting and making the frames in a workshop at the top of a condemned mansion, which I shared with the families of the demolition crews. There was no electricity and I would work late into the night by candlelight, putting the frames together.
I set up my camera on a dais on the The Bund promenade one evening to take this time-lapse video set to the 1930s classic, Ye Shanghai (Shanghai Nights) by Zhou Xuan.
After a day of shooting on the streets of northern Shanghai, I would head back to my room, stopping on Zhapu Road Bridge – no matter what the weather – to marvel at the Shanghai skyline. I would often stand there for an hour or more – captivated by the lights, the colour, the architecture. The low, 1920s bridge I stood upon over Suzhou Creek had (and has) great personal significance to me, and I spent many balmy summer nights. The futuristic, almost psychedelic skyline, and historic architecture possess a romance that never fails to move me.
I spent several hours on the Pudong promenade looking across the Huangpu River to the Bund. A time-lapse video with the funereal procession of salt barges set to Lana Del Ray’s song of the same name. Shot just a few weeks before I left Shanghai. The adventure was over, the reason that I had stayed so long in the city had departed. It’s not the buildings and rivers and lights and history that makes a city special, it’s the people.
I took this mobile phone footage from the sidecar of my friend Sammy’s beautiful vintage motorbike. It was a humid, foggy night – the last night of Chinese New Year, and the air was filled with the snell of gunpowder from fireworks and firecrackers. This ride takes in the Bund in its entirety.