German photographer Michael Wolf documents and marvels at the vernacular culture of the modern metropolis. Architecture of Density is a sprawling collection of colossal structures that can be found in Hong Kong. The photographs focus on the repetition of patterns and form to cause an infinitely complex visual reaction and rediscovers the city scenes by highlighting its forest like expanse of high rises.
Though he’s lived there since 1994, German-born photographer Michael Wolf has only been documenting Hong Kong since 2003. Charting the excessive repetition of rooms and blank windows, the photographs turn housing into a world of disillusioned abstraction. Devoid of landscape, the recognisable semantics of buildings are forgotten. The work investigates the socio-cultural phenomena of Hong Kong’s rapid expansion and ever-expanding architectural anatomy, while also allowing for a unconventional peer into the inhabitants who occupy it.
Cropping the images gave the buildings the illusion of what Wolf calls “unlimited size”—the possibility that they could be more than 100 stories tall, and perhaps a mile or more long. Only upon closer inspection of the images, they reveal that there’s more here than monolithic apartment blocks. They are laced with evidence of human life — clothes lines, plants, mops and air conditioning units.
“You suddenly see these signs of habitation and that’s what makes them interesting,” Wolf says. “Because from far away [the buildings] could really be a pattern, a tapestry, and then when you get closer, you suddenly see there are people living there. It’s this duality which makes them interesting.”
Wolf’s work has been exhibited at a number of locations including the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennial for Architecture, Aperture Foundation, and MCA Chicago.
All images by Michael Wolf