The Invisible Bicycle


by Byron on Jun 03, 2012 at 7:22 AM

Photographer Zhaohua Zen removes the bicycle from photographs and the subjects appear to float in the air, on their daily rides to and fro in Shanghai.

invisible biycle 1

Floating with a shopping list

They seem oblivious that they’re floating in air.

invisible bicycle 2

Floating with a passenger

Is it a statement about what we take for granted? Possibly or how the perfect machine moves us, in a cities dominated by cars. Maybe too what’s been lost in a consumer-driven, marketing culture.

While a world away from us in the States, Zhaohua Zen could shoot here and use his photographic skills to the same effect.

When I rode in Shanghai, these contrasts were always apparent. From the big bag of something being ridden to a high-rise construction site


Hundred dollar bicycle outside a million dollar apartment building

or the bike parked outside it.

shanghai 2

What’s he doing with that big bag of X?

Note: iPad viewers, high-rez photos of Zen’s work were not available.

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Notice too that the rides are mundane daily task rides.  And nobody is wearing a helmet, nor other special stuff.

How much do our “safety laws” hinder actual use?

Another project, which could be fun but would be hard work, would be pictures of bicycles without the people (sort of the inverse of Zen’s work.)

If you were on a helmet agenda, you could make that point yes or realize that China has millions of bikes on the road with scooters, pedestrians, and streets so congested everyone has to slow down - I’ve ridden there and as I’ve said to the Euro Bike Bloggers and their propaganda, if the roads are safe to ride without helmets, great, but that is NOT the case here in the States. A eurocentric, elitist, viewpoint centered on what works in Denmark and Amsterdam is detached from the reality of American cities and most other places in the world, where I’ve ridden too.

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