Dustin SHUM

Publisher: Inertia Books

When I woke up one morning and noticed that the opposite block had been painted in shades of pink as if it were a kindergarten or amusement park, these visual noises disturbed my otherwise quiet life. As Alain de Botton writes in The Architecture of Happiness, the way we look at architecture is not any different from the way we look at a person: "To feel that a building is unappealing may simply be to dislike the temperament of the creature or human we dimly recognise in its elevation - just as to call another edifice beautiful is to sense the presence of a character we would like if it took on a living form” I am now looking at an unstable bloke, his decrepit face covered up in heavy make-up, flashing an ignorant smile.

Observing the life and death of these blocks reminds me of an analogy of Ancient Rome that Freud makes in the introduction of Civilization and Its Discontents. In the "Eternal City", he notes, buildings from different historical periods co-exist and overlap in disharmony. The ruins of damaged or burnt architecture accumulate traces of culture, time, and people. They are the visual manifestations of the mental lives and habits of human beings, informing us that we will always be surrounded by our own past: "nothing once formed in the mind could ever perish, that everything survives in some way or other, and is capable under certain conditions of being brought to light again, as, for instance, when regression extends back far enough.

Blocks is perhaps my Ancient Rome, through which I look back at my past and watch, rather helplessly, people being forced to invest feelings of "home" in these buildings. In addition to exploring the bizarre living conditions inside these artificially engineered residences of happiness, this series is also a memorabilia of the thirty years of my life in public housing.

  • Dustin Shum


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Book Size
250 x 260 x 18 mm
112page, 71 illustrations
Hard-cover, High resolution FM screening
Publication Date
Chinese, English
Limited Edition

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