We really have to be removed from a situation to appreciate and understand things at times. When we observe people from a point of view that is detached, we are able to perceive things in a different light. This precisely what Bence Bakonyi does in his photographs. As a photographer based in Shanghai, China, Bankoyi makes groups of people his focal point, instead of individuals. He calls this collection of photographs the Cognition series.
Cognition fundamentally follows a group of individuals while touring Chinese landmarks. Bankoyi traveled to Dunhuang and Zhangye Danxia in northwestern China, next to the Silk Road, where one will find ancient ruins amongst the vast sand dunes. While there he shot images of these tourists, appearing like tiny figures against the enormous desert landscape, making a viewer feel like a distant observer.
Bankoyi wrote these words in a website statement:
“From the perspective of these photographs we experience that kind of comprehension which is possible only through considerable withdrawal. Due to its viewpoint, the series represents the spirit of the group. It is not the person, but the community which appears as an individual entity: we see it moving in unity, the trace of its path, and the process through which it discovers the unknown.”
Social Scientists have long studied people from a cultural standpoint, trying to understand people more as social units rather than as individuals. Social anthropologists study peoples everywhere, what they create, what they do, what they believe and how they systematize their social relationships as well as society.
Subjects of interest for social anthropologists have been typically economic and political organization, customs and traditions, kinship and family structure, gender relations and religion among other things. Current social anthropologists are concerned with current issues of ethnic violence, gender studies and globalism, just to name a few. Bankoyi is obviously one of these current observers modern human behaviors.
See his series following group behavior called Cognition here.