Hin Chua's Magnetic North

Magnetic North can be considered a base camp, a general point of reference for my wanderings and ramblings.


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'After the Fall' at the 2011 FORMAT Festival

I’ll be exhibiting ‘After the Fall’ at the FORMAT Festival in Derby in March 2011. There’ll be a diverse and interesting range of work being shown: I’ll personally be curious to see Amy Stein, Bruno Quinquet and Trent Parke amongst others (you’ll find my exhibition at the QUAD). 

The theme of this year’s exhibition was “exposures in the public realm” and when I was invited to submit a proposal, my initial concern was how to describe my work within that context. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, here’s what I settled upon:

Over the past decade, rapid changes in technology have radically altered many of the ways in which we look out into the world. In the past, photographers may have gotten the “sense” of a place by relying upon the advice and experience of trusted companions. If the reference material existed, they could turn to books, magazines or films for additional research. Ultimately though, they would have to travel there themselves, discovering the lay of the land and its attendant intricacies first-hand.

My project “After the Fall” has been a personal journey of discovery across the outer edges of urban regions throughout the world. Over the last three years, I have visited more than thirty cities in a dozen countries. The majority of these destinations were identified on the Internet by carefully examining high-resolution satellite maps and Google Street View. I was searching for areas that were neither urban nor rural but a combination of the two, where the presence of low-density industrial estates, uncollected roadside rubbish and strange trails winding through wasteland would be regarded as good signs.

Easy and immediate access to this vast quantity of data has brought about a wholesale redefinition of boundaries, an expansion of the very notion of public space. We are now granted admittance to a world that stretches far beyond our immediate neighbourhoods and personal experiences. It has never been easier to become aware of places thousands of miles away that previously may have only been the domain of a few farmers, gypsies or model airplane enthusiasts.

The photographs in this series were made in locations that, until recently, I should have no right knowing about. Despite often being devoid of people, these places are now as much in the public domain as Times Square, Piccadilly Circus or the Notre Dame.

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