Hillman Lai: Bright are the stars Dark is the sky
Lucky for Lai, there is still photography, with freedom to choose the camera, format, lens, focus; and more importantly, to decide how, when, and what to retain in each tiny frame of film, to keep a memory, a feeling, and a sense of self.
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Practising film photography over these past two years, from 135 to medium format to large format, the camera gets heavier the more Lai shoots, while the process continually slows and the images too grow increasingly still. Only with this slowness and stillness comes the sedimentation of feeling and thought through capturing ordinary scenes of the city.
Hong Kong is mainly formed by igneous rocks, a huge rock of its own. After being ceded to the British Empire in 1842, it developed from a small fishing village to a cosmopolitan city carved from building stone. To call Hong Kong ‘a city of stones’ would not be too far from the truth. Just a few years before it was a free port, photography was introduced to the world. Hong Kong Stories is an attempt to use the precious 19th century dry plate process in capturing remnants of the old fishing village, fragments of this city of stones, and everyday scenery of our beloved Hong Kong.