City Bytes is a series of samplings on the Asian urban fragments. By nature of each individual event (byte), it is not radically different from that in the Western world: More and more information are imposed on the individual; more and more urban activities are unpredictable; more and more urban problems can no more be categorized into a social, economical or political issue but a more complex hybrid of all. At a glance, the world is the same everywhere. Thats what the global market tells us. United Colours of everything. We are all assumed to be colour blind.
The ultimate difference between the Asian and the Western model lies in the way, firstly, how the activities operates are generated, and interconnected, and how they lead to a state that one can no longer single out the cause and effect of each individual event. In the eyes of the west, they cannot give an answer. They have studies, but not conclusions. In the East, we seldom ask why. We work it out before we rationalize it. Asian Boom is a myth.
Asian Boom is a simulation and adaptation of the west. But in such PROCESS, it totally transforms into something else. It is an image in the photoshop. It re-creates itself differently through different re-sampling processes. It easily becomes an unrecognized monster from its original.
The second aspect that makes the Asian city different from the Western model is the SCALE: scale in terms of quantity and time. The conjunction and cannot be omitted because the Asian scale works in both aspects together. Often, quantity is in huge amount; and time is unexpectedly short. We would use INTENSITY to describe this scale. In contrast to density (which has become a banal concept and started to lose its significance), intensity is a kind of immaterial density. In the rapid occurrence, changes, replacements and disappearance of activities, everything gets hyper. The city is like a mixture of boiling liquids. It is always at a state of high energy. Each liquid may vaporize sooner or later. The city of hyper intensity is at the same time a city of volatile events. We called it the LIQUID CITY.
City bytes are unveiled by snapshots of the liquid city. In this instant photographing act, an unpredictable form of city life is disclosed. The amount of city bytes is infinite. There is no whole in whatever summation of the city bytes. Its richness is generated through collective imagination and adaptation. City bytes relate urban life and space where possibilities are norm.
City bytes invade every part of city. City bytes transform the original use of space. City bytes revitalize the citys dead areas. City bytes foster new relationships with them. City bytes are unplanned. City bytes are anti-hegemony. City bytes are under a structure of becoming. City bytes have no definite content. City bytes are highly adaptive because they are generated from specific urban conditions. City bytes are hyper intensive.
Hong Kong, July 2000
GARY CHANG, architect, Hong Kong, http://www.edge.hk.com