east meets west

brief : For centuries the West has dominated international economics and politics, but now there is a very visible shift to the East. After years of oppression and poverty Asia is now recognised as the dominating force of the future. With rapid development and new money come new social problems, none moreso evident than in the urban environments of these countries.


A few months ago I visited two locations in Asia for a social snapshot of what is going on there. Bangkok and Hong Kong represent different stages of the Asian boom. The context of this documentary photography is quite different to my previous European & American work, but the messages about social dichotomies and the urban struggle are as prevalent as ever.


There is a very noticeable difference between the West and the East work ethic. We have become apathetic towards business and industry. We take for granted the luxuries associated with selfish capitalism and free market economics. In Asia, however, the attitude is very different. They are determined to break away from the poverty that they have experienced for so long. The industries developing in these countries will soon quash the economic powers of the West. We are in no position to continually compete against cheap labour, massive workforces and the most determined workers in the world.


In the next few decades the tables will turn on the West, and the social, economic and environmental issues we have seen affect capitalist Europe and America will start to be replicated in Asia.


The very fact that these countries are now embracing free market economics shows that socialism has been a failure (at least in an economic sense). Capitalism will bring massive re-development and new riches; but at what cost? Further social division and environmental destruction?


Some of this work also includes documentary photography from my original visit to Bangkok in 2002.


influences : Front Door Back Door - Kenneth Baker / Hedda Morrison / Robert Frank / Garry Winogrand / Diane Arbus / Documentary Photography

equipment : Contax G2, 21mm Biogon Lens, 35-70mm Vario Sonnar Lens, Ilford HP5 documentary photography film rated at 400 & 800 ASA


keywords : documentary photography, photo, photos, picture, pictures, street photography, Thailand pictures, Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Asia, Asian boom, east meets west, far east, superpower, capitalism, socialism, democracy, urban development, documentary photography



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