Daniels Langeberg On Photography, Cycling & Exploration

My name is Daniels Langeberg, I am an urban designer/planner, bicycle advocate, traveller and photographer. Photography fuses my interests together – A unique blend of sports, art and exploration.

I use photography as a tool to observe the world more critically, using it to aid my understanding of the planet in which I live. This helps me make more informed creative decisions as an urban designer.

IMG_20131031_103136_HDR

Cycling essentially provides me with a compact, controlled and efficient way to explore the vast and complex cityscapes I’m so fascinated by. For me moving through the city using my bike is the ideal speed to absorb all of its happenings. Recently, the megalopolis of Shanghai has been my playground – A city accommodating a population of twenty-three-million, where I have been based and working professionally for almost three years.

What I think about more than anything when commencing any type of creative work is the power of the narrative. What is the story? Why is it being told and how am I going to tell it? This narrative approach is the framework I use to hang all of my ideas off of. It helps me make sure that my work is headed in the right direction. Paradoxically, my process is neither linear nor circular but more so a combination of the two, manifesting itself into a spiral-like formula. When visualised as a diagram this formula takes a conical like form (picture a Christmas tree made from a single spiralling piece of chickens wire) starting from the ground up.

IMG_20131106_132757_HDR

When I begin creating a new narrative my first move is to extract a theme and then take some time to explore all of its potential. As the narrative unfolds it progresses up this spiral, any ideas I deem unsuitable are squeezed out until finally I reach the apex of my brainstorming process (the top of the spiral) and the essence of my constructed narrative emerges. This ‘loop/feedback’ creative process enables me to continually reflect on my work on the fly as well as forming a base that enables me to seek out certain elements and subjects in an urban environment that are suitable and speak to the story that I’m attempting to capture.

Shanghai is an extremely diverse city where a myriad of different happenings are unfolding simultaneously at a very rapid rate. At times it can be quite difficult to keep up with. My approach is a combination of preparation and a heightened awareness, which comes as a result of my experiences walking and riding through the streets of different cities for several years.

IMG_20130910_152927_HDR

Over the years I have chosen various ways of sharing my observations by blogging my photographs and designs. More recently however I have been drawn to using the increasingly popular social media platform, Instagram. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the application’s potential, but essentially it provides a means for me to very quickly and instantaneously share my urban explorations and observations with my followers and a wider audience by appropriately hash-tagging my posts. Instagram and social media in general are incredibly powerful tools that seem to be taken for granted in the Western world. This has become clear to me the more time I spend within the borders of one of the most information controlled states in the world; the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Up until recently users could post on Instagram freely wherever and whenever they wanted. However, just like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other popular social media outlets that have been blocked for use by the general public, Instagram looks to be sharing a similar fate very soon. The Chinese Government has recently restricted the use of Instagram by very discreetly disabling the software’s ability to post over the carrier network – prompting users the requirement of a Wi-Fi connection in order to post anything successfully. Stripping the greatest and arguably most dangerous (in the PRC’s view) capability from the people, instantaneous sharing. This in turn has induced the coining of the now popular hashtag #latergram from Instagram users within the PRC.

IMG_20131026_103828_HDR

Instagram has been serving as more of a behind the scenes look at the other projects or interests that I’m choosing to pursue. One of which  is my soontobeforgotten project. The project is a blog that aims to capture the wholesale destruction and displacement of entire communities in the older Shikumen (traditional Chinese five-storey row house) districts of Shanghai. This is a monumental change in the City’s urban and social fabric that is still getting little attention. My long-term goal is to examine the physical impact of such change; from the intact existing Shikumen community, to where the teardown commences and then all the way until the super-scale apartment blocks and Starbucks move in.

Online portals such as ZOD Culture grants one the forum to provide insight and justifications to their work and to their peers from all around the world. To raise awareness, gain recognition and acquire feedback. One of the greatest powers that the Internet gives us is the possibility to realise this notion of the ‘collective’. Where one can give birth to an idea and share it with the world! That idea can then be criticised to fulfil it’s full potential, with the likelihood of spinning-off other novel ideas – I believe that is true creativity and that is why I will continue to maintain an online presence. I am really excited to see how new developments in technology and thinking will change the trajectory of how we will create in the future.

IMG_20130904_141542_HDR

For more of Daniels’ unique works you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr. Be sure to check out his latest spectacular project, soontobeforgotton.