A detail from Michael Wolf’s Architecture of Density #99 (2007).
By night, Wolf captures light beaming blue, gold and green from apartment-block windows, gracing the concrete boxes with an unexpected cinematic grandeur worthy of great Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai. Indoors, residents go about their business, watching TV, doing the dishes, apparently unaware that their actions are echoed by their neighbors ad infinitum in a relentless but somehow reassuring urban rhythm. By day, Wolf’s hulking, drab gray tower block makes us all the more attentive to colorful details: a child’s red pajamas hung out to dry, a blue plastic bag of groceries dangling perilously from a window handle. This is Hong Kong at its intimate best and anonymous worst, all in one photo — but it’s much more than that, even. Wolf’s photos distill all of city life as we know it down to its oxymoronic essence: layer upon layer of existential ennui and pulsating vitality, slabs of concrete and the signs of life that miraculously break through it. For better and for worse, there’s no denying: this is the life.
– Alison Bing, San Francisco Chronicle (January 2005)