In the last 9 years, I have been traveling around the world to capture monuments at night. Mainly in ex-Yugoslavia, ex-Soviet, and East European countries. Countries like Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Albania, Ukraine and Germany.
Many of them nowadays have been abandoned and neglected by people. My journey started in 2012 visiting the communist monument Buzludzha in Bulgaria. Since then I have explored over 40 countries in the world, focusing on photographing abandoned places, monuments, brutalist and Soviet modernist architecture.
Many of them are shot at night by light painting photography. I want to capture and re-create their eternal beauty. Creating surreality from reality is a fascinating game to play, and it always motivates me to keep going on the exploration.
I’m fascinated by the man-made environment. There are some topics I’m especially into, like abandoned sites, brutalist architecture, mass concrete monuments, towers, bunkers, underground tunnels, and many other urban structures. Those places are empty and eerily quiet at night in darkness.
But the existence of them actually speaks for themselves, waiting for us to discover and listen to their stories – no matter sad, absurd, heartbroken, or beautiful, they are all shining in the dark, waiting for us to reap.
As a traveler, I never witnessed those places during their flourishing time in the past, and in the future, I also have no control over how they will become, whether they get abandoned, renovated, or even completely demolished. So the only thing I can do is appreciate the very moment I visit them and witness the current status in their life circle.
Simply documenting those places is not the only thing I want to achieve. By controlling the light and time via light painting photography, I want to recreate them and build a connection between us. They are transformed on my photos and generate unique scenes that only belong to me. Eternity is the thing people always pursue but never get in real life.
Many times when I’m at those places shooting at night, I do feel I have built a connection between them and me. While feeling how insignificant and lonely we humans are when facing eternity, by doing all this, all I can do is prove that we used to have each other. If I have to put into words what I wanted to tell through my photos, ‘The Romance of Eternity’ is my answer. Source and photos Courtesy of Xiao Yang.