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#Future of Cities III

In collaboration with Panos Pictures and the World Photography Organisation (WPO), Sony's Global Imaging Ambassadors (SGIA) present a nine-month social documentary initiative called FutureofCities. The project explores how cities around the world are evolving and coping with the large-scale migrations of people from suburban and rural areas into urban environments. 75% of the global population is projected to be living in cities by the middle of this century. Panos photographers have begun examining this change through topics such as urban farming, eco-housing, technological innovations, elastic environments, children at play, green spaces, economic divides and much more. Zackary Canepari - 'This is Bangkok'
Bangkok, Thailand

This is Bangkok, 2014. It's globalised and localised, everyone is plugged into something - Cosplay from Japan, pop from Korea, products from China, tourists from Australia, showtunes from America. Ultimately, it's all now Thai. Massive electronic billboards advertise in Thai, in Chinese, in English, in Neon. Images of the King project onto the IMAX screen before the start of the film. Everyone stands to honour him. As Sci-fi author Philip K Dick wrote: 'The future is already here it's just not very evenly distributed.' The city is sinking into the flood plain. One day soon the roads will be rivers. But that hasn't stopped the expansion. The exurban and suburban zones are nearly as dense as the city centre. Old and new structures competing for skyline. The elevated Skytrain connects them all. Down below the infrastructure sags. Most people wear hospital masks on the street, pulling them aside to slurp noodles or smoke a cigarette. Congestion is edging towards permanent gridlock. All the cars, buses, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, ferry boats, scooters and bicycles hardly move at all.

Brian Sokol - 'Robocops'
Kinshasa, DR Congo

In a city of 10 million people, traffic in Kinshasa has become a major problem with infrastructure improvements lagging behind and ever increasing numbers of drivers hitting the grid-locked streets. The city authorities have come up with a creative solution to Kinshasa's congestion problem. Part traffic light, part cartoon robot, these 8 foot tall contraptions, mounted on concrete plinths at significant intersections, are now found across the city, giving directives to motorised and pedestrian traffic. Designed and manufactured by Women's Tech, a company owned by Therese Korongozi, a local entrepreneur, the solar powered devices are cheap to produce and run.

Each has a video camera which records the flow of traffic, feeding back video footage to police headquarters. The 'robocops' work around the clock, 365 days a year and, crucially for the corruption-weary road users of Kinshasa, they don't take bribes.

Noriko Hayashi - 'Stairway to Heaven'
Tokyo, Japan

Rituals embody the thinking of a society. Death rites in particular reveal notions of life, death and the afterlife. Looking at the new ways in which people in Japan are buried is an indication of the transformations in city landscapes, lifestyle and social structure. With astronomic land prices in Tokyo, being buried in an urban cemetery can cost well over $ 100,000. In a country where the graves of ancestors are visited regularly, access is key. New multi-story, vault-like graveyards offer a modern solution to an age old ritual. Accessible around the clock, in all weather conditions, with wheel chair access and no individual maintenance required, 'cemeteries' like Tokyo's Ruriden allow family members to use a swipe card to enter the cemetery room. Japan's technological lead in this field, as in many others, is showing a possible way forward for other cities across the world.

To view more work, please go to the Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors page HERE
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