Slumbering Giants

Daniele Dainelli photographs Beijing at night.

No observer of Beijing’s preparation for this year’s Olympics could fail to notice the massive scale and insane rate of development leading up to the games. In a recent series of 20 images, Italian photographer Daniele Dainelli tried to capture the “mystery and tension” of this rapid transformation. “I spent about a month and a half cycling round Beijing at night, looking for interesting places with a particular light,” he says. “At first I didn’t know any projects or what would come from what I saw and photographed. I just saw huge structures coming out from the darkness of the night.”

Dainelli, who is 40 years old and lives in Milan and Tokyo, em-ployed several-minute-long exposures on a medium-format camera to create the 31-by-45-inch photos. “I have been enchanted by staying in front of these constructions for a very long time, using long exposures, looking at the shadows of these silent monsters,” he says. The resulting images feel otherworldly, and at times menacing. In some you can barely make out the contours of darkened buildings rising against inky skies, yet you feel their weight. A strange new city seems to be on the verge of awakening—but we’ll all have to wait until August to see it in the daylight.

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