At the crack of dawn, before the morning mist has even lifted off of Victoria Harbor, the streets of Hong Kong are already abuzz with activity. Taxis and buses fill up the roads, steam spews from hole-in-the-wall breakfast joints, while swarms of white-collar workers and uniformed students crowd sidewalks and MTR stations. Hong Kong is a city on overdrive and undoubtedly one of the most frenetic places in the world. Within this concrete expanse, harsh realities exist: unemployment, bankruptcy, and other insurmountable disappointments are a part of everyday life. The glitzy skyscrapers that loom overhead seem to gaze down at the city’s inhabitants with cold indifference.
But in the works of Hong Kong artist Tommy Fung, the city’s somber atmosphere is given a facelift: block-shaped fragments of the city’s high rises fall into place like a game of Tetris, Autobots and giant pandas rove the streets, and DeLoreans hover above curbside parking spaces. This project, aptly titled SurrealHK, is comprised of Photoshop composites assembled from his original photography. With these images, Fung hopes to capture the sheer lunacy of life in Hong Kong, dialing it up a notch. “It’s nothing special,” he shrugs. “I’m just showing everyday Hong Kong.”
不过在香港艺术家 Tommy Fung 的作品中，一切看上去好像并没有那么糟糕——商用大楼打起了俄罗斯方块、变形金刚和大熊猫占领街道、科幻电影里的悬浮汽车就停靠在路旁……这些“就地取材”的趣味创想，像是与这座“太现实”的大都会开起了玩笑。Tommy 将这一系列作品取名为《超现实主义香港（SurrealHK）》，打算用镜头让这座几近疯狂的城市再疯狂一点。他说：“没什么特别的，我所表达的就是香港的日常。”
At 9 years old, Fung moved out of Hong Kong with his family, relocating to Maracaibo, the second-largest city in Venezuela. The country, a far cry from the rhythm of Hong Kong, was an ocean-side oasis with what seemed like an unending supply of sunshine. The laidback lifestyle was something Fung had to get used to at first, but he ended up fully embracing it.
In traditional Hong Kong households, parents often expect their children to pursue certain careers in high-paying industries, such as law or finance. But Fung’s parents were far more open-minded. Studying at the University of Venezuela, Fung was free to pursue his personal interests, and he took full advantage, immersing himself in creative disciplines such as graphic design, photography, and more. He quickly took a liking to photography, learning his way around a camera and Photoshop. After graduating, he started his own photography studio and began taking on a range of different commercial work. This was one of the happiest periods of his life.
In 2012, things took a turn. This year marked the beginning of Venezuela’s economic collapse. Inflation rose exponentially. Hunger and poverty quickly swept the nation. The government, social security programs, and the healthcare system fell into shambles, and Fung saw no light at the end of the tunnel. In January of 2016, Fung moved back to Hong Kong in search of stability.
九岁时候，Tommy 随家人一同搬来委内瑞拉的第二大城市马拉开波生活。不同于香港的忙碌景象，委内瑞拉缤纷与梦幻的海岸线风光，造就了当地人轻松惬意的生活方式。而对于刚刚从香港搬来委内瑞拉的 Tommy 来说，那里一度是他的世外桃源。在这里生活并成长二十余年，Tommy 已和当地人乐观开朗的生活态度保持一致。他说：“委内瑞拉人很喜欢相互开玩笑，即便面临很糟糕的处境，他们也会一笑而过。”
普遍的香港家长都会要求孩子从事律师、金融、拍卖或收入可观的领域，而 Tommy 的父母则相对开明。在委内瑞拉攻读大学期间，Tommy 幸运地选择了自己喜欢的专业，除了平面设计的学习之外，他还经常参加校园内的拍摄活动。在委内瑞拉的这段时期，被 Tommy 认为是人生中最重要也是最美好的时光，可以尽情享受与快门和 Photoshop 在指尖弹跳的时刻。大学毕业后，他很快成立了一家摄影公司，开始为形形色色的客户进行创意指导。
2012 年，委内瑞拉爆发有史以来最为严重的金融危机，物价上涨百分之八百，饥饿、压制、贫穷席卷全国，民生、政治、社会安全、医疗等问题也经受严峻考验。Tommy 和他的摄影公司未能逃过此劫。迫于无奈，Tommy 在 2016 年 1 月回到香港，打算寻找新的可能。
Even after moving back, Fung found little peace of mind. Hong Kong was far too different from what he was used to in Maracaibo, and he found himself at a creative dead end with his photography. He had trouble finding work that he was passionate about. The sheer density and pace of life in Hong Kong wore him down: he watched unhappy workers scurry off to their jobs day in and day out, negative news dominate the airwaves, and infeasible real estate prices suffocate hopes of homeownership for the younger generation—it was a lot to take in. He thought back to his time in Venezuela, and how happy he felt in those early days of photography. He wanted to rediscover that happiness, and maybe even spread some of it around in Hong Kong. Crafting a make-believe world with his photography became the way for him to do just that. “I just hoped to make something that could make people smile,” he says.
回到故乡之后，现状似乎并没有得到好转。这里的一切都和委内瑞拉完全不同，而 Tommy 的摄影思路与香港并不投拍，无法找到一份适合自己的工作，现实的大厦让 Tommy 再度陷入彷徨。他发现所有人都奔波于工作、电视机上的负面新闻目不暇接、超高的房价更让人喘不过气来……所有这些看上去都很消极。而每当回想起最初在委内瑞拉度过的美好时光，他对未来又立刻充满信心。灵光忽然在 Tommy 脑海中一闪而过，他决定运用摄影和 Photoshop 为这座城市带来自己那份面朝阳光的心态。他说：“当时我心里在想，一定要创作出让所有人会心一笑的作品。”
Fung began uploading works to the @SurrealHK Instagram account in 2017. In these images, outlandish happenings are the norm: surfers ride down a concrete staircase, pandas roam the neon-lit streets, and gargantuan koi fish swim beneath liquid cement. But even outside of his own imagined scenarios, he also enjoys weaving together motifs from sci-fi, fairytales, and other disparate works of fiction. Iconic characters and objects from films such as Transformer, Inception, Doctor Strange, Back to the Future, have all made cameos in the series.
As of recent, Fung has turned his focus towards current affairs. Climate change, social unrest, and other hot-button issues now serve as frequent inspiration. For example, in 2020, a lot of work was created around the pandemic. Adding a touch of humor, he invites audiences to reflect on the status quo. “I wanted to bring my sunny disposition to Hong Kong originally,” he says. “But this series has given me a deeper understanding of the city and its many issues, so it’s only natural for it to appear in my art.”
在回到香港一年之后的 2017 年初，Tommy 发布了自己的系列作品——《SurrealHK》。借助后期制作，Tommy 得以将香港现实景象与想象力达成连结。作品中出现的元素可谓天花乱坠，通过各种科幻、奇幻、甚至是童真的视角，带观众重新面向这座城市。《变形金刚》、《盗梦空间》、《奇异博士》、《回到未来》等经典影视作品的元素随处可见，极具视觉冲击力；还有一些元素则看起来非常滑稽，盂兰节香港街道上的戏曲演员、可爱的大熊猫做起了外卖生意……
起初，Tommy 的创作大多以搞笑、离奇为主。但很快，他的创作重心开始转向更多与时俱进的内容，例如天气、社会新闻、以及一些直击港人痛点的主题。在刚刚过去的 2020 年，他便创作了多组关于新冠疫情的作品。这些基于现实的创作方式，令人以幽默的姿态审视自我生存的现状。他解释道：“我希望能将自己积极阳光的心态带到香港。而另一方面，创作同时也让我更深入地了解这座城市，所以你也能从我的作品中读到很多关于现实的问题。”
At the moment, Hong Kong’s inflated housing market is the issue Fung has been most troubled by. “People are always working, no end in sight,” he says. “With houses priced at tens of millions of dollars, many families can’t afford to buy a home their lifetime. Some people just live inside a small room for their entire lives.”
Ordinary people shouldn’t have their backs to the wall, he believes, but when the odds are this stacked, a bit of optimism is all he can hope to provide. “Even if reality isn’t all that rosy, I still want to uplift peoples’ imaginations with my work,” he says. “That’s the goal anyway.”
In this way, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy Fung’s work for what they are without reading too much into each image. As long as his work can bring a smile to someone’s face, then it’s enough for him. That moment of happiness can, hopefully, allow someone to see beauty and light even in places where there seems to be none. Now, a year since uploading his first image, Fung’s Instagram account has grown to over 120,000 followers. Having found renewed creative purpose, he’s as motivated as ever to continue shooting, editing, and making people smile.
眼下，Tommy 最关注的是香港住房问题，他说：“人们总在不停工作，上千万的房子，不少家庭一辈子也买不起一套。还有一些人甚至一生只能蜗居在很小的房间里面。” 在 Tommy 眼中，人们不应该被这些社会问题掐住咽喉，倘若大部分人心态发生细微的扭转，事态就会变好很多。他说：“即便现实总是不那么尽如人意，但我总希望激发别人对快乐的想象，这就是我的创作初衷和目标。”
观看 Tommy Fung 的作品，不要克制住你的会心一笑。因为哪怕只有一瞬间的快乐，也可能激起心态上的千层浪花，涌起对美好明天的信念。现在，《SurrealHK》在 Instagram 上的粉丝数量达到了十二万，此时的 Tommy 不再彷徨，打算坚定不移地将这份快乐一直传递下去。
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Contributor: Pete Zhang
供稿人: Pete Zhang