I am still stuck in the Festival City, the brandnew ultra-highrise complex in the New Territories, looking onto the Shatin canal on the east side, and onto a magic mountain on the west. The mountain was nostalgically reconstructed by means of a digital effect on my Sony Lumix DMC-ZS3 called ‘pinhole.’ With this device I seek my own moments of Orientalism, not in the sense of exoticizing and flirting with the Chinese (I have tried but got rejected) but by picturing a mythic landscape to salvage this condition that I live in. It is a highly sanitized and top security living arrangement for the Hong Kong bourgeoisie, a place where you are sealed off from the Tai Wai working class and where as humans you can stop saying hello to each other. Here it is only children and the small pets who still display social behaviors. The dwellers of the Festival City seems to be remote and grumpy despite the fact that their choice of apartment reveals that they have landed nicely.
So what is wrong then with life in the Festival City? There are no restaurants, no small stores, no vendors of goods, no racks for bicycles, no benches, no lawns, no bars in this place. There are cheaply engineered flower arrangements but no smell of the earth. At sunset we should be able to descend from our top-level apartment and have a little chat with our neighbors. Just sit down and have a drink, listen to radio music, or sit on a bench amongst smells of the outdoors, gaze at the unknown and fuzzy-chat, practice our Cantonese, our Korean, our French. Instead, they all stay at home and hire tutors for their multi-gifted children.
This place could be the setting of a mechanime movie about a dark post-human futrure that ends in social protest, the children walking together and occupying the strange sterile walkway that runs through their complex. They once posted security personel on this walkway to direct human traffic in two divided lanes, but the dwellers said “Shit, this really sucks.” The traffic cops were then removed and reassigned duties, but the atmosphere stayed the same. There is still no social vibe, no joi de vivre in the Festival City. It really is a convenient and luxuruous place to live in, but in the end, as Lou Reed sang for the small town children, you know that you gotta get out.