New East Digital Archive

Go east: a special report on travel photography

Can a camera bring us closer to another culture or does it hold a mirror to ourselves? From the cutting-edge capital of South Korea to Borneo's endangered rainforests, our photographers and artists have travelled beyond the New East into East Asia. In this special report of travel photography we explore loneliness and belonging, getting lost and discovering yourself

Travelogues nearly always begin on day one — when the suitcases have been packed, the car tank has been filled and you’ve officially hit the road. Yet the journey begins way before you close the front door behind you. It starts on home turf, from the moment you mentally bookmark where it is you want to go: the anticipation of the trip. The idea that your home is somehow an extension of the journey is only really considered in retrospect, when you’re decked with souvenirs and the post-travel blues set in. In actual fact, of course, where you come from has a huge impact on how you perceive where you’re going next. So where exactly does one space end and the other begin?

Today, the distance between what is “home” and what isn’t is shrinking. The prevalence of social media has made it possible to share photographs directly from the location they are taken — like instantaneous postcards which, collected together, build a sense of self. As a result, the subjectivity behind the lens has a renewed significance in travel photography at large.

Here, ten New East artists and photographers travel to various parts of East Asia — China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. Their stories offer glimpses of hectic metropolises and stunning nature reserves alike. The photographers featured here all began with some preconception of their eventual destination; whether they overcame or simply reinforced these is, as always, open for debate. The sensations and practices learned in the New East stick to our guides as they cross enormous distances.

Fluctuating between states of loneliness, belonging, nostalgia, revelation, altogether, these travelogues document not only external, physical journeys, but the interior psychological ones that these entailed. Even if these trips were not intended as conscious quests of self-discovery, that is how they ended up. More often than not, These journeys take in unlikely detours into memories of home; past and future experiences impinging on the unfamiliar present.

Let these stories transport you directly to the Far East, and indirectly back to the New East whence these trips were made.

Kindred spirits: Visit the border between the manmade and the supernatural in nocturnal Japan

Coming through the air: Pollution and post-communism in urban China

Keeping up with South Korea: Coolhunting in stylish Seoul

Trouble in paradise: Nat Urazmetova on her odyssey through beautiful, endangered Borneo

Tokyo masks: Pepa Hristova on her portraits from the world’s greatest metropolis

Neon rush: Get lost in Southeast Asia's rural splendour and urban nights

Alone together: Searching for human connection on the streets of Tokyo

Rain down on me: Wiktoria Wojciechowska’s touching portraits of Chinese commuters in typhoon season

Come together: Witness the communal morning dances of Yunnan Province

Open for business: Peek inside the small shops still thriving in Taiwan