Visual Storyteller. AR/VR Experience Designer
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Watson Fellowship

One World

I fly in over Hong Kong, everything still, a typhoon on the horizon. Six-miles up, I hope the light will last so I can begin to photograph. As the plane descends—one-mile up now—I remind myself that in every box of a window there is a story; inside every box is a screen; between every screen and every story is a whole imagined world. One that had perhaps become more real than we'd like to acknowledge. I wonder what the allure is of these boxes inside boxes?

(more background about my Watson project here: http://www.empathymachine.net/about/)

Arnold Schwarzenegger's fiery-bionic-eyeball whizzes by me: Terminator Genesys posters are everywhere. I take a tram-to-a-train-to-a-train and emerge into the misty streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, realizing that having been in HK for two hours I still haven't stepped foot in open air. One could probably spend a lifetime here without really ever stepping outside

Above: The typical scene in the HK subway ± Below: flip side

Wandering around Hong Kong is less foreign than it is a hyper-real version of Chinatown, New York City. To grow up in Hong Kong is to come to age in One World, a McDonalds and 7-11 on every corner. Out of curiosity, I went to see the new Terminator and the entire theater erupted in laughter when Arnold deliver an iteration of his famous, “I’ll be back”. A world away, we share the same culture references; time and space have been blown to bits. It strikes me that, traveling today, one has to seek out difference rather than it being guaranteed. 

As bad as Terminator was—a movie literally about Nothing—it shed light on the ubiquity of movies in our lives. I’m not going to make a claim that the Terminator is engendering empathy across cultures, far from it. Yet, there was something bonding about the moments I found myself laughing in unison with other spectators. Cinema is everywhere here in Hong Kong and 15 movie theaters open every day in Mainland China. There will be no shortage of films to see, places to go, people to connect with over films.