DARK CITIES Trilogy
DARK CITIES Trilogy, inaugural winner of the FIRST DRAFT Award by THEBOOKSHOW, is a series of three books of photographs re-imagining fringe spaces in the metropoles of Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul. CARPARK, first in the series, investigates the nocturnal meanderings of a dark multi-storey carpark in Singapore. CAPSULE, the second book, revisits a futuristic tower in Ginza built in the 1970s, through the imagined eyes and mind of its architect. The third book EULJIRO is a lost and found diary of a fading iconic Seoul district, once a symbol of the country’s modernization.
Co-published by Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA), DARK CITIES is the debut publication of Singapore-based architect and photographer Shyue Woon.
"The Carpark, a photographic novel of a space beyond place. Woon is the city’s refugee; where every inch of land is demarcated and set for a purpose, he is navigating its margins. The world he has created unfolds in darkness, yet gleams with colours made manifold by man." Excerpt from The Carpark essay by Charmaine Poh, Artist, and documentarian.
"It seems that we are exploring the Tower’s ‘consciousness’ as turning pages. We learn about the days of the Tower. However, what we see are not objective facts; It is just an imagination based on our own experiences. By exercising our imagination, we can see even the dream capsuled in the Tower." Excerpt from Capsule Tower’s Dream essay by Kenji Takazawa, Photo Critic.
"Seoul was a delirium. There were no clear borders to its mass; walking through it was like walking through a constant flux. A rabbit hole that rippled outward across its uneven topography and wormed down into untold concealed basements and alleys. Very quickly, it became clear to me: Seoul is a place for the restless." Excerpt from Un-placed essay by Rachel Ng, Art Writer and Cultural Analyst.
“Shyue Woon's DARK CITIES emerged as the winning work amongst many others in the First Draft award organized by THEBOOKSHOW. This trilogy is a collection of fictional documentaries that reinvigorates our perception of the photo book through the author's fear, ambition and faith encapsulated in an intimate and personal encounter. “ Ang Song Nian, Artist and founder of THEBOOKSHOW.
PHOTOBOOK SET FACTS:
Earlier this year during one of my counseling sessions, I was advised to keep a diary of my thoughts and reflections. A few weeks into the exercise, I realized my thoughts were better communicated in visual form than in writing or verbalization. Without the structural constraints of language, photography became a way for me to communicate with my inner-self, as it is more intuitive and open to interpretations. At some point, I found myself drawn to the mystery gloomed by a dark, confining multi-storey carpark. With a hint of fear, I ventured into the void. I soon traced unexplained evidence that led to unsolvable puzzles. I don’t know what to make of my investigation, maybe this is how I interpret the carpark to be, a Purgatory, a space that is neither heaven nor hell..
Today, the tower has fallen into disrepair. I grew obsessed with the tower & its madly visionary architect – by bringing the future into the present, and the tragedy of not able to dictate the evolution once human/economics imperfection intervenes. I attempt to construct an imaginary Kafkaesque narrative on someone (The architect) being trapped in his own tubula-rasa, trying to escape for the crumbling meta-textual stage of his own creation.
I stumbled into this mysterious old quarter in Seoul during my travels. The further one wanders in, the smaller the alleys get and the older the shops appear. While the locals put on suits and ties and go to work at the adjacent gleaming new glass and steel office towers, middle-aged men in Euljiro operate band saws or large presses, amid the smell of grease and metal all around. Perched on a tiny stool on the sidewalk, a roving knife-sharpener scrapes a blade across a whetstone, while nearby another man works in a shop where the entire floor is covered in rusty metal hooks. Porters ferry things around on two-wheeled dollies, and motorcycle drivers drop off and pick up deliveries. It’s nearly all men who do these things in the alleys.
LIMITED EDITIONS PRINTS
The SIGNED and NUMBERED Collector Edition comes with a SIGNED archival inkjet print of the images listed below, circa A5 (148 x 210 mm or 5.8 x 8.3 in), printed on Hahnemühle paper.
Each image comes in a limited edition of 6 (+2 AP)
Kevin WY Lee is a photographer and creative director based in Singapore. He has worked in the creative industry in Asia and Australia for almost 20 years. In 2010, he founded Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA), an influential platform for Photography & Visual Arts in Asia.
Charmaine Poh is a Chinese-Singaporean artist and documentarian. Primarily using the medium of photography, her practice looks at gender, memory, solitude, and the layers of selves. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in visual and media anthropology at the Freie Universitat Berlin.
Kenji Takazawa (b. 1968) is a Photo Critic based in Tokyo, graduated from Waseda University. He writes extensively on Photography and Literature, as well as conducts regular interviews with photographers. He is a contributor for magazines such as ASAHI CAMERA, IMA MAGAZINE, SPUR, and teaches at Tokyo Zokei University and various photography institutions.
Rachel Ng is an art writer, cultural analyst and former curator at Singapore Art Museum. She holds a BA in History of Art from University College London and a MA in History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia from the School of Oriental and African Studies. During her Masters studies, she was on exchange in Korea University in Seoul, and spent 3 months uncovering the city and its culture.