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Underground Portraits: Weilun Chong’s “Please Mind the Gap”

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Underground Portraits: Weilun Chong’s “Please Mind the Gap”

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People tend to zone out on subway trains – probably because the reality of being trapped underground in a speeding train packed with strangers is far from inspiring.

As thousands of commuters a day in Singapore and Hong Kong slip into their chosen commuter trance, photographer Weilun Chong is secretly photographing them from the next car over. In his ongoing series Please Mind the Gap, Chong frames his subjects between subway car doors while they, for the most part, stare at some combination of a device, the ground, straight ahead and their reflection in the window (although babies tend to obliterate subway etiquette, which calls for staring anywhere but at someone else).

While far less intrusive than Arne Svenson’s The Neighbors, Please Mind the Gap still oozes a sense of entitlement in the artistic license that many photographers use to push the boundaries of privacy and respect. Chong’s images are undeniably captivating – there is pure beauty and art in the ability to freeze time in an overwhelmingly high-speed lifestyle – but are they invasive to the art of photography? Should photographers completely alienate themselves from their human subjects like this?

This is always a polarizing debate – We want to know what you think in the comments below.

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