Exploring Hong Kong through Snapchat’s Spectacles
The 1995 Anime film named Ghost in the shell was a seminal one that had two main stars featured in it. The first major star was the protagonist named Major Motoko Kusanagi who was an elite cyborg police commando and the other one was Hong Kong. The, then- British colony which was extremely exotic and cacophonous cityscape was disguised as a fictional New Port city in the post World War Japan. Higami Haruhiko was very meticulous in photographing the multi-layered metropolis with its dystopian environs with his expertise.
The infamous Kowloon Walled City really fascinated Higami. It was a hopelessly dense rabbit’s warren with high levels of lawlessness was captured before it was demolished. The conflict of the machines and the mind was mirrored in the controlled chaos of microcosm. The film photographs of Higami shows the high levels of intricacies involved in the designs of the sets by Hiromasa Ogura. The images of rain-specked and neon-bathed New Port City were echoing of the city that was almost immortal. This iconic interval of 3 minutes in the film brought out the huge physical data space that was represented by the city in general. It was simply an incredible view.
We wanted to venture out into Hong Kong’s rough Kowloon side after 23 years of Higami’s scouting trip. We did it on the eve of Hollywood’s live-action revival which was inspired by the lush portrayal of the city by in the anime Ghost in the Shell. Lucian Lam, who is an urban photographer and the person who fixed the location for Ghost in the shell remake accompanied us. He made us absorb ourselves in the sound and rage of the streets before we went to the rooftop.
Lucian was well-equipped with newly released spectacles of Snapchat that had captured his entire journey from Sham Shui Po district to Temple Street. This was the same view that was used by director Mamoru Oshii to give a chilling effect in the original film in 1995.
As Lucian recorded the last 10 second clip at the dramatic entrance arch of Temple Street, the revolving LED indicator of Lucian’s spectacles blinked. This scene had a great resemblance to the last shot of Ghost in the Shell which had a scene with Major Kusanagi gazing out upon the motherboard-like grid of New Port City and trying to understand the immense and vast information flow.
Her final words remained in the air: “And where does the newborn go from here? The net is vast and infinite”