Made in Bangkok. / by zackary canepari

To kick off 2015 let's time travel back to 2014.  This is Bangkok.  The city is sinking into the flood lands it was built on.  Someday soon the roads will be rivers.  But that hasn’t stopped the expansion.  Megacity.  The exurban and suburban zones are nearly as dense as the city center.  Building and rebuilding.  Old and new structures competing for skyline.  Some resemble robots.  Some remain unfinished.  The elevated Skytrain connects them all.  Down below the infrastructure sags.  Progress and tradition.  Congestion edging towards permanent gridlock.  None of the cars, buses, trucks, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, ferry boats, river taxis, scooters and bicycles move at all.  Most people wear hospital masks on the street, pulling them aside to slurp noodles or smoke a cigarette.  The air is thick with humidity and sweat and smog and sex.  Inside, everything is Megamall. Climate controlled consumption.  Medical tourism.  Sex tourism.  Drug tourism.  Displays telling you how to look and how to feel. Massive electronic billboards advertise for dental surgery.  Written in Thai.  In Chinese.  In English.  In Neon.  Screens above and screens below.  Reflections in the puddles, on the windows, in the eyes.  Projections.  Personalized.  Customized.  Individualized.  Food.  Fashion.  Eye color.  Politics.  Products.  Sex.  Gender.  One third male.  One third female.  One third hybrid.  Everyone is plugged in to something.  Artificial realities.  Globalized Realities.  Cosplay from Japan.  Pop from Korea.  Products from China.  Tourists from Australia.  Showtunes from America.  Ultimately, it’s all now Thai.  Images of the King project onto the IMAX screen before the start of the film.  Everyone stands to honor him.  This is Bangkok.  The year is 2014.  A time of extremes.

I made these photos over the course of 10 days in November.  Its part of the Future of Cities project, a collaboration between Panos Pictures and Sony.  When I arrived in BKK, jetlag got the best of me and I wasn’t sleeping much.  Through my hazy eyes, Bangkok appeared as the future.  Utopian and Dystopian all at once.  Globalized and localized.  Maybe I was hallucinating.  But I couldn’t stop thinking “Blade Runner Blade Runner Blade Runner”. Sci-fi author Philip K Dick writes "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed."  Still not sure if I agree or not...