China’s fast-growing economy has paved a highway for development, allowing its big cities to rapidly transform into glittering metropolitan landscapes. For Lukas Birk, an Austrian-born multimedia artist, capturing the sense of "modern nostalgia" that goes along with a growing city and country happened by accident.
In a series of Polaroid photos featured in his upcoming book, Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New Visions of China, published by Glitterati Incorporated and due out next month, the Beijing transplant traveled through Chinese cities with some old expired Polaroid film, to take snapshots of modern change through an old medium.
The expired Polaroid cassettes, which Birk salvaged from the depths of his stepfather’s basement, created blue-tinged, distorted images that he felt accurately captured his feelings on the changing country. “After my first year in Beijing, I felt for the first time that I already missed places -- cafes, streets, and houses -- which had not yet fallen prey to the fast development in the city,” Birk writes in the book, describing a concept he calls “pre-nostalgia.” Pre-nostalgia, he describes, is a longing for something that currently exists, but, especially in a rapidly-moving environment like China, is not guaranteed to remain.
Take a look at some of the snapshots from Birk’s collection of photos: