In my research for the Leave Your Body residency, I have been looking at Videotage’s quickly gentrifying neighborhood of To Kwa Wan*. As is usually the case with my practice, underlying historical narratives and connections that are not immediately apparent take precedence. The photo below is of the Towngas Ma Tau Kok Control Centre, located directly next door to the Cattle Depot Artist Village where Videotage resides.
Gasometers are large cylindrical metal tanks built as storage silos for gas for use as fuel.
There are several different types of gasometers. The type of gasometer with scaffolding, like the one at the Ma Tau Kok Control Centre, are predominantly located underground and would telescope up above ground as pressure from stored gas increased and subside as pressure decreased, storing and releasing gas through the day like a massive lung**. However, the use of gasometers has become obsolete in recent times as gas storage is largely done underground in high-pressure pipelines. As our age aligns development with green-washing, immunization, and escapism, the burying or obscuring of unseemly or obsolete systems is an ongoing process worth investigating.
*To be fair, one of the top three of Hong Kong’s pollutants is a result of its use of concrete, so most of the city is under an incessant pace of development and gentrification, which makes pointing out and finding methods of preserving historical landmarks all the more crucial.
**Thinking of the city as an organic machine, composed of its inhabitants and the infrastructure that meets their needs is a biomorphic analogy that runs throughout my practice.