RICHARD MARK DOBSON
Puntopia

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Performance Lake. Wynn Macau. MacauR. Cidade de Sintra, MO Rua Cidade de Sintra NAPE
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Shooting into the Light. Av. do Infante Dom Henrique
2019

The theory is that moths as primarily nocturnal insects, have evolved to travel by the light of the moon and the stars. A phenomenon knows as transverse orientation. An easy way to think about about transverse orientation is to imagine a sailor traveling in the direction of the north star. Moths similarly follow the light source at a precise position and angle to their bodies, this is how moths have navigate for millions of years. By the light of the moon.

Moth evolution couldn't however account for the proliferation of constant electric light in the modern world. Confusing their senses, Moths obsession with bright lights often proves to be a fatal one.
Understanding the laws of light attraction, the authorities here in Puntopia utilize this for maximum effect, for they know that those who come to flutter around the black jack tables, think and behave just like moths.

Unlike moths however, that are colour blind, flutterers of a human kind are hypnotized by colourful flashing illumination. Officialdom know this, and therefore they ladle on the flicker and flashing. Stand on any brightly lit street corner around here and you will witness people, literally, running towards the light. Those walking away from it, are usually all spent up.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Romeo. Doorman. Studio City. MacauEstr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

HENRY'S POV

WE SEE a Cadillac pull up to the cabstand. WEE SEE the
car rise slightly when TWO huge, dapper HOODS get out.

On HOOD #1 WE SEE large diamond pinky ring on a sausage-
thick finger.

On HOOD #2 WE SEE a broken-nosed hood's tie hangin loosely across his monogrammed shirt like a silk bandolier.

GOODFELLAS SCRIPT.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia.  Title: On the hour. Every Hour. Sands Hotel and Casino. 203 Largo de Monte Carlo. Macau
2019

Gambling is an all encompassing activity at the Sands. On the hour. Every hour. They should know, for at the Sands, they watch the punters pour in and pour out like sand in an hourglass. Cash slips though fingers, well, like grains of sand down at the Sands!

The punters, start with a pile of chips under their chin, and before long, the chips are piled high on the opposite side of the table. It doesn't matter. The clock keeps ticking. Time slips by. The cash keeps flowing. From him to her. Here to there. Thee to thou. Now and thereafter.

How many stars are there in the Universe? Some reckon 1 billion trillion. And grains of sand on earth? Heck, a conservative estimate is 500 Quadrillion. But calculating how many dollars bills are stashed in pockets, wallets, socks, bra's, knickers at the Sands, is quite frankly, anyone's guess. But one thing for sure and not hard to fathom, is that much of the lucre spent down at the Sands, was not made legitimately. Yes the Sands is where racketeers go sit on the proverbial beach. Seen, not so inconspicuously in Hawaiian shirt and dark ray-bans, with glass of cognac in hand, a dolly bird on their arm and a pile of chips in their fingers, wearing aftershave that smells, well, like sun tan oil.

The hourglass, sometimes with the addition of metaphorical wings, is often depicted as a symbol that human existence is fleeting, and that the "sands of time" will run out for every human life. Well here at the Sands, for some of the punters, nasty, brutish, their time on the tables can be short, and when their luck runs out, which it eventually does, they leave solitary and poor.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lobby. Grand Hyatt. Macau, Estrada do Istmo City of Dreams, Taipa
2019

A primary goal of the human visual system is to reconstruct the three-dimensional structure of the environment from two-dimensional retinal images. For example, the visual system appears to assume that convex surfaces are more common than concave ones, biasing perception toward convex surfaces when the image is ambiguous.

Who is this individual anyway? On his phone probably speaking with his chums across town who reside down loan shark alley.

With this fella we identify a new probabilistic cue for surface shape: a form with a visible specular highlight, and therefore more likely to be convex? Highlights occur when light is reflected in a mirror-like way from glossy surfaces such as polished marble or metal or heck, even skin and bone.

You see, numbskulls, knuckleheads, blockheads are two to a penny around here. For this place welcomes those daft enough to think they can outwit the rigged system. Yes Puntopia actively encourages boneheads that sparkle with specular highlights, hoping to hit that elusive spectacular jackpot.

They want those on the tables, with more overtly convex configured domes containing steeply shaped concave minds to punt on spinning wheels and bouncing orbs, which of course have their own revealing specular highlights too.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia.  Title: A fine white line. MGM Cotai Hotel. Av. da Nave Desportiva, Taipa
2019

"the fine white line dissecting two temporary scenarios, is a line that exists in reality and nowhere else.  For glass has to be framed for rigidity. Two sheets of glass. Two opposing views. What happens behind the glass and in front, merge.  They merge life.  Glass mirrors life, and life, like glass is fragile.  What holds them together is a fine white line. 

Let's face it, existence balances on a fine line between life and death.  Applaud and regret.  Success and failure.  Sickness and health.

In Puntopia, a fine line divides the winner and losers, the haves and have nots.  The lucky and unlucky. The moral and immoral. Those with honest intentions and those that cheat.  Here in Puntopia, glass reflects a dream like, fantastical reality. The Oxford dictionary definition of 'fantastical' is 'remote from reality'. And that's exactly what Puntopia is. It's a charade. Wholly not what it appears to be and VICE versa...

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia. Title: 3 Punters. Praca de Dom Afonso Henriques, Macau
2019

Three is an odd number. Punters are odd people. They gamble on chance.

You might notice 3 punters appear before you, and yet they're not in front of you at all. Such is the illusion. The law of reflection states a ray of light leaves a mirror at the same angle it enters. Light is known to behave in a predictable manner, unlike the punters, who arrive with grandiose delusions of winning the jackpot, and leave, mostly, disillusioned. Often angry and delusional!

That's when they regress psychologically and with it their composure changes. All decorum evaporates. At this juncture, Puntopia's observation system matrix takes over, making notes on their behaviour, which often turns for the worse. Usually manifesting in the form of binge drinking and then seeking out sexual gratification with the legions of hookers who ply their trade along the Cotai strip. Here onward, it's a spiral down. From 10-3. The girls usually make sure they clear out what little money they have left.

Below three it's game over.....the surveillance apparatus kicks in, tips off the security detail and the punters are rounded up. They spend the next 48 hours behind steel, not glass, where the angle of incident is reported, and after writing a 20 page confession, those guilty have had, without doubt, plenty time to reflect upon their misdemeanor.

Many of them though are back in week for more of the same. Such is the power of illusion that this place promotes and capitalizes upon.

The moral of the story is, Puntopia is a moral free zone.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Puntopia. Title: The Red Guard.. City of Dreams #2 Macau Estr. do Istmo, City of Dreams 2019
2019

It’s all hush hush here behind the velvet drapes. His barely discernible footsteps muffled in plush pile carpets all the while, louder, is the squeak of his starched green tunic.

This night, like all of them, around this corner of the Gambling Industrial complex, fusty air hangs under glowing ceiling lamps. The night is still young but it feels old, and stale. He's been here far too long. He just keeps his mouth shut and walks the blocks. Taking 90 degree turns, pacing through the City of Dreams, Block- A, B, C, D.

His repetitive long march, from the front to the back and from the back to the front, night after night, along red corridors, the colour of his arm bands. Two crimson ribbons with a number instead of his name, signifies that he's security detail. City of Dreams, or is that City of screams?

He clocks in as a Red Guard Security employee? No coincidence it seems in the name. Around here people don't get the book thrown at them, but they do get thrown out for unruly behaviour. And get trussed up and a good hiding if found trying to cheating the system.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia. Title: Ground Floor.  Going Down. Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

Ground floor.  Going down.  How far can the punters go?  Well at Puntopia's celebrated gambling spot, the Lisboa casino, they can go as low as they want.  Or don't want! You see, the management know, that here, they don't have a lot of control over how far down they go, for management decides that for them.  Only they, the punters, don't know that.

Heck, those with some common sense would not even enter the building, let alone get in the elevator.   And for those foolish enough to step in, again common sense should dictate they best flee before the doors close behind them.  But sadly sense is none too common around Puntopia. 

So the doors close, and down they go. The basement beckons. It's a black marble causeway of grand tackiness.  It's an underground avenue crammed with humans. A procession of rude and dodgy folk, stinking of tobacco and cheap vodka.  It's the hall of infamy.  Here congregate the un-famous, famous for getting wasted and throwing it all away.  Their cash first.  Then what they can pawn off, from their wrists, finger and around their necks. When that's all be tossed away on the roulette wheel, they head for the cash machines one floor down.  Basement level 2.  Here they try and remember their credit card PIN number and hope they can extract a few more Patacas, squeezed from their already over the limit overdraft limit.

Then when it's whats' called, game over, they head down to basement level three.  And what happens there is, well, err, humm, another story.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
StarWorld Hotel. Macau Avenida da Amizade, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Behind the Lines #1. Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

A phalanx of punters stand in line, behind the lines, while the faux Sphinx, in the shadows just across the road, smirks down at them. This is one wave of many. From dawn until dusk they shuffle towards buses operated by The Kee Kwan Motor Road Company. This endless thread of mostly cackling Cantonese come and go. Arrive to blow their hard earned Renminbi. And then, after 24 hours in sunless rooms, bathed in the dayglo-eque of pachinko parlour neon, they leave bleary eyed for their short haul back through the iron curtain.

At the station, a haze of diesel hangs in the air, as the coaches grind in and out. Supply and demand, that's what keeps their wheels turning. With air-conditioning turned up full, arrivees, half frozen in their recliner seats, peer down through foggy, condensation smeared windows, at the bedraggled, sweaty and money depleted legions waiting in the soggy air outside. Incoming punters eager to start gambling, their minds racing, but their bodies stiff and numb, alight awkwardly from the buses and begin to steam as the polar air clinging to them, meets the topics. Those on the outside, waiting in line, relish the thought of the big freeze. It's one for the other. The swop.

The ebb and flow of it all, it's written in the book. The log. Puntopia's surveillance apparatus keeps face files. Just for the records. They need to know who's coming and going. Who is spending and who isn't. Who is winning and losing. Where they come from. Where they go. The bus lines, the operators, they help keep the tracking on track too. It's just another day behind the lines.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Steam Bath. Av. de Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho # 1
2019

From June to September Puntopia sizzles. It's a steam bath alright. Daytime +32 degrees celcius and at nights +25 no less. Outside and inside. Think, muggy, dank, greasy.

Throw in a million plus punters, with their core body heat at + 37, which when amplified through stress (losing on the tables) or physical stimulus (fervent sexual activity) in sweaty massage parlours and clammy love hotels, the result, is a zillion air conditioners grinding away to almost breaking point. Their exhausts it is rumored, collectively belch out over 300 tons of green house gasses a day. And does anyone give a monkey's ass?

No. This is Puntopia. Here all anyone thinks about is winning money, and having risky sex. Oh and in the summer months, how to keep 'fucking' cool.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Steam Bath. Av. de Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho, Macau # 2
2019

From June to September Puntopia sizzles. It's a steam bath alright. Daytime +32 degrees celcius and at nights +25 no less. Outside and inside. Think, muggy, dank, greasy.

Throw in a million plus punters, with their core body heat at + 37, which when amplified through stress (losing on the tables) or physical stimulus (fervent sexual activity) in sweaty massage parlours and clammy love hotels, the result, is a zillion air conditioners grinding away to almost breaking point. Their exhausts it is rumored, collectively belch out over 300 tons of green house gasses a day. And does anyone give a monkey's ass?

No. This is Puntopia. Here all anyone thinks about is winning money, and having risky sex. Oh and in the summer months, how to keep 'fucking' cool.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia. Title: Strip the Light Fantastic. Av. de Cotai, Taipa. Macau.
2019

The Cotai strip. It's where street walkers come to hustle their wares. It's hookers row. Whore haven. Doxy's boulevard, siren street, wenches way. Whatever you wanna call it, call it what you will. It doesn't matter to the girls. They couldn't care less. They're just after your money.

They have their clock on you. In, out, shake it all about, do the hokey cokey and hurry the fuck up! Pay and bugger off. That's their sentiment. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to try short change them on the agreed tariff. The good time girls can turn your evening into a very bad one if you engage them of their services and then try nickle and dime them down them after shedding your load. Or not pay them at all. Heck you do that, and they might just feed you to the chickens.

Now if you don't know what feeding to the chickens means, it's common practice in China. Your wife, girlfriend or mistress, finds out you are been unfaithful. Well one night while you are blissfully asleep, she'll lop off your member with a butchers knife, chop it u into fine bite sized pieces, and then toss the bits out of the window to the chickens in the yard. It's might be for this reason the Chinese men have a word for prostitutes. They call them 'chicken girls'.

Well it's strip the light fantastic here along the Cotai, and the chicken girls are strutting their stuff. 24/7/365.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
They'll see you on the dark side of the room.. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

Series. Puntopia.  Title: They'll see you on the Dark Side of the Room. Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau

They'll see you on the dark side of the room,
All that you touch, and all that you see,
All that you that you taste, all that you drink,
All that you give and all that you deal,
All that you buy, beg borrow or steal,
And all that you do, and all that you say,
And all that you eat, and everyone you meet,
All that you think, and all that you thought,
And all that you hide, and all that you lose,
And all that you cry, and all that you try,
They'll see you on the dark side of the room.

There is no dark side of the room really
Matter of act it's all dark.....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Sintra Hotel. 58-62 Av. D Joao IV, Macau
2019

The Sintra! 70's chic. Flowery motif aside, from Joburg to Bangkok, there are other hotels just like it. Kind of manky on the outside, and usually pretty shabby on the inside too. It has something to do with their vintage. Built in an era when it was cool to just throw shit up. Didn't really matter what it looked like. Not a rounded or voluptuous curve in sight. Well that would be a lie. Because at the not so salubrious Sintra, sin is in, and there's a lot of curvature draped around the lobby. It's pussy galores here for all those staggering in from the Grand Emperor Hotel and Casino across the road. Yes, for those who can afford to lose on the Grand tables, but can't afford the rack rates, the Sintra offers a reasonable bed, and choice pickings of an H-grade harlot on the way across the lobby to the elevator.

The Sintra management have been trying to keep up appearances. Giving the place a bit of a face lift. Having the formica tables removed and fag scarred carpets replaced. But just like the tarts downstairs puffing on their Double Happiness golden virginia's, as with cosmetic surgery, cracks soon begin to appear. Best not to look too closely at the finish.
Not that the Sintra guests do. They inhabit a pretty cloistered environment. Sort of shifting from one low light zone, to another. Leaving the hotel in the dark, and returning usually just before first light. The curtains at the Sintra are usually always drawn. What goes on in the rooms between the long periods of alcohol induced sleep is anyone's guess. But the anemic looking room attendants gossip amongst themselves about the things they find smeared into the bed sheets. Banana is common. Mango souffle too. Ash smudges are routine. And there's often blood. That's much harder for house keeping to clean off. With cigarette burns, things just get thrown in the refuse.

Over at the Sinta, it’s all a bit of a shit shoot.....down the laundry shoot.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
MGM Cotai Av. da Nave Desportiva, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia. Title: All that Glitters is not Gold. Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

It’s not that difficult to spot the losers.  For example, stand around in the ornate lobby of the Lisboa hotel for a while and soon enough one or more comes slouching along, often hands in pockets, with a sort of dead pan expression, neither smiling or grimacing. Their faces sullen with a wax like complexion from lack of sun and fresh air, resemble that of a dead person. They certainly don’t notice the gold trimmings on their way out.  And probably didn't notice them on their  way in either.  

However it's a good bet, that while heading for the casino, they most certainly had gold on their minds. The golden hues of the macanese 1000 pataca notes. They came in dreaming of winning as many of those as they could.  Puntopia stats however claimed that after spending an average 8 hours huddled around the gambling tables, the so called hard core punters would then slouch away, with far less golden patacas in their pockets than when they arrived.  It was a numbers game alright. 

The stats on the homicide rate, recorded by the police, especially around silly season, which in Puntopia was Monday to Friday, January to December, was quite staggering. The Macau-Taipa bridge a mere 400 yard slouch away from the Lisboa was a favorite jumping spot.   Punters would prefer to wait for one of the passing steel hull cargo ships to pass underneath, before they leaped, worried that the murky waters just 114ft below might not be enough to end their misery.  For the captains of their ships it was a big inconvenience. They had to stop their boats.  Send down a few deckhands to go scrape off the remains of the now almost unrecognizable mangled punter, and hand the bits of him/her over to the harbor police.  

It was ionic really, for those who arrived dreaming of gold, that for many, the last thing they saw before before they departed, was not gold and sparkling at all, but rather the dull grey of merchant ship steel.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lisboa Hotel. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lisboa Hotel. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lisboa Hotel. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lisboa Hotel. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
MGM Cotai Hotel. Av. da Nave Desportiva, Macau
2019

NOT FOR SALE

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Series. Puntopia.  Title: Faunacation. MGM Cotai Av. da Nave Desportiva, Macau # 1
2019

Around Puntopia, marble, glass, brass, gold and concrete is the primal source for the origins of emotional life. All sentient beings around here wear leather, and silk, prada, and gucci, while other creatures of greater splendour, those multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom animalia, are nothing more than plastic dummies or plasma effigies. Puntopia is all about fornication and faunacation. The birds and the bees.

In this hermetically sealed biosphere, nothing gets in that has more or less than 2 legs and 2 arms. Monkeys and chimpanzees are stopped at the door. That said, great apes are welcome. Orangutans in Armani are especially welcome....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Series. Puntopia. Title: Faunacation. MGM Cotai Av. da Nave Desportiva, Macau # 2
2019

Around Puntopia, marble, glass, brass, gold and concrete is the primal source for the origins of emotional life. All sentient beings around here wear leather, and silk, prada, and gucci, while other creatures of greater splendour, those multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom animalia, are nothing more than plastic dummies or plasma effigies. Puntopia is all about fornication and faunacation. The birds and the bees.

In this hermetically sealed biosphere, nothing gets in that has more or less than 2 legs and 2 arms. Monkeys and chimpanzees are stopped at the door. That said, great apes are welcome. Orangutans in Armani are especially welcome....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
The Vestibule. Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

The ever faithful, the punters, the gambling fanatics of an almost religious order, are forthcoming day and night. These loyal pilgrims come to revel within the vestibules of Puntopia, this outlandish mecca of depravity. All the while they take credence from King David and the book of Psalms.

115: 4 'Their idols are silver and gold, made by hands of men'.

Now, within the anterooms, chambers, atriums, corridors and inner sanctums of Puntopia, those in need, cry, 'O Brother, O Brother where art thou'? But, their calls go unheeded. Help is not forthcoming! You see within the lesser hallowed halls of Puntopia, there is only one brother. Big Brother? And he's not their friend. Even if these devotees to affluenza think so. No. Big brother is there to observe, listen in and wait. He's nowhere but everywhere.

Psalms;

116: 1 'The Bell Hops have mouths and can whisper'

116: 2 'The Tables have ears and can listen'

116: 3 'The Walls have eyes and can see'

One of the 10 commandments is 'thou shall not cheat'. Here in Puntopia, there is an unofficial 11th (not endorsed by the Bishops) and it says; 'Cheat as much as you can while nobody is looking'.

So Big Brother and the Bishops of the Highest Order, observe and listen. They monitor their devotees to greed, vice and more greed. They know that it's only a matter of time before their Worshipers of Gluttony, try enact the 11th
.
Therefore Punters are advised upon arrival, to question the basic truths;

Q. 'What has an eye, but cannot see?'
A. 'A needle!'
Q. 'What has no eyes but can see?'
A. 'A croupiers tunic button'.
Q. 'What has ears but cannot hear?'
A. 'A cornfield'.
A. 'What has no ears but can hear?'
Q. 'An ashtray'

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Title:  Clockwork Orange. Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

Clock in, clock out. Puntopia’s legions of ‘workers’ toil 24/7/365. That’s not a date. It’s the number of days they work. All day, every day. All day, all night. Shifts break on the hour, every hour. Back door entry. Back door exit. Usually sidling past half asleep security personnel, dozing off in their cubicles. It’s a strange twilight existence. They work day shifts. They sleep all night. They work night shifts. They sleep all day. No wonder their already yellow skin, turns a funny mustard orange. It’s lack of vitamin A, D and C.

They arrive dressed all dandy, cheap leather jackets with tiger motifs on the back are a favorite among the male staff. Who work long hours dreaming of a better life. They change into dull gun metal grey jackets, trousers and white shirts. Many decide to drop out of full time Puntopia employment and join the local triads, so they can wear their leather jacket all day, every day. They can also then look forward to been on the other side of the gambling tables. Spending the proceeds of their latest heist or money laundering scam. Much more glamorous. And having a dolly bird in a leather jacket with a tiger motif on her back too, is for many of these young men, the pinnacle of accomplishment.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Grand Royalton, One Grantai, Estrada Governador Nobre de Carvalho, Taipa.
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Title: Raise the Red Lantern. Diamond Casino. 82–86 R. de Pequim, Macau
2019

'Within its shade we'll live and die, Tho cowards flinch and traitors sneer, We'll keep the red lantern flying here'

How much can they make from a Diamond Casino Heist?

Raise the red lantern. Raise the red flag.   The payout for a Diamond casino heist is a gamble they want to go all in on. This  isn't any old heist job. According to some crime bosses, this would be the biggest,  most audacious, most complex criminal operation to ever hit Macau.  A heist that would be expensive both in terms of time and resources planning the breach of the well defended Diamond vault. But worth it they figure, given the rewards and satisfaction of relieving the Chan family of a great chunk of their worth.  Yes they plan to fill their suitcases full of cash, and take Miriam Chan, Vice President of Chan Holdings, down a few pegs.  To achieve their aim the fat cat rats down by the creek, consider a few options;

1. Silent & Sneaky: they attempt to enter the vault undetected, giving them the least resistance and the longest amount of time to steal from the vault.
2. Aggressive: they attempt to enter the vault by force, using weapons to overcome extreme levels of resistance.
3. The Big Con: they attempt to enter the vault by passing themselves off as visitors, candidly wheeling out their takings in a big fat, burgundy coloured suitcase.

Seems that option number 3 is top of their options list.....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
R. de Fat San, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Corner of Av. da Praia Grande & Av de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
The Parisian. Lote 3, Strip, SAR, P.R. China, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Studio City. MacauEstr. do Istmo, Taipa.
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Studio City. MacauEstr. do Istmo, Taipa.
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Bus Lines #2. Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
One Central Macau Novos Aterros do Porto Exterior, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
La Creche. The Parisian. Lote 3, Strip, SAR, P.R. China, Estr. do Istmo, Macau
2019

Kids around Puntopia are usually left to their own devices. Mum and Dad are way too busy. Hand them a smart phone, and let the juveniles amuse themselves. For boys and girls should be seen but not interfere. Mum and Dad have important things to do. Punting requires focus. Their utmost attention, so the little ones, they have to be distracted. Encouraged to forget their parents even exist for 12 hours or more. There is nothing worse than having whining kids hinder the important task of trying to win back the money they lost the day before.

Dropping infants off at kiddies corner, is one way parents dispose of their children for 95% of their Puntopia time. They are encouraged to jump up and down on the inflatable bouncers, until fatigue wipes them out and they curl up on the inflatable beds. Sleeping kids are the best, because they take no supervision at all.

Another way is to abandon them at the gaming parlour. Real time tactical games work well for boys between the ages of 8-15. Lads with inquisitive minds who have way too many annoying questions. Those who might want to know for example, how the copy Eiffel tower was engineered and constructed. That lurid green structure which is hard to miss! So big it is, outside the grandiose and decidedly tacky, The Parisian casino and multi-level shopping mall. It has little boys entranced.

But irritating questions like that take way too much time to explain. So boys are best dumbed down. Getting them onto a console in a noisy and often smoke filled gaming den, and absorbed in a game of cat and mouse, shoot to kill, Call of Duty a parental favourite. A diversion they know is a wonderful bottomless pit of interactive blood and guts, and appeals to even the most sanguine of boys. Once on a mission to hunt down Kaptain Krap, parents know their little soldier will forget to eat and or even sleep and can be left happily for 14 hours or more. Mum and Dad can slip away, with complete peace of mind and get back to more material things.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Centro Comercial. MacauEstr. do Istmo, City of Dreams
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
MGM Casino Macau. Av. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Series. Puntopia. Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep. Morpheus. City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa.
2019

The effects of sleep deprivation are well catalogued. A chronic sleep-restricted state adversely affects the brain and cognitive function, inducing confusion, false memory, seizures, mania, temper tantrums, and often violent behaviour.

The automatons charged with the drudgery of meeting and greeting the fat cats who roll up in their rollers, certainly do dream of getting more electric sleep. For their work is debilitating. Often 24 hour shifts. Back to back. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They can't complain. They are not allowed to, so all they can do is dream. Dream of a deep, deep electric sleep.

The oligarchs who run the show around here, know, the more sleep deprived the punters are, the riskier their behaviour. They want them insensible, on and off the tables. A stupefied punter is a welcome punter. They like to see them sat there with glazed expressions, slouched over the slot machines, yanking the handle. Again and again and again.

Puntopia encourages no clarity and even less reason. They coax those punters towards a wasted mental state, so comatose from lack of sleep, that when they pull out their credit cards, they spend like there is no tomorrow'.

And guess what? In Puntopia there is no tomorrow. For night and day blur into one.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Series. Puntopia. Title: Standing on the Pavement, Looking at the Pavement. One Central Macau, Novos Aterros do Porto Exterior, Macau
2019

Loitering with discontent. Turning their backs on the shop windows and bright lights. Usually because it’s just best for them to look away. Or down at the brick or concrete. For they know the feeling, when a stunning hooker saunters by and they have no cash to purchase her services. Then it’s best to stare at something else, like a distant spec of light out in the darkness. A mundane distraction, to prevent crotch tightness and that dizzy lusty, longing feeling. I mean there’s no point window shopping if there’s no Patacas in the pocket. We all know that. It’s pretty universal. “No money, no honey”.

Then best they pull on a fag instead. Inhale deep and let the smoke ease the pain. Dull their fizzy heads with a blast of nicotine. Skulking about, away from the tables and glitter wheels helps. Brings them down to pavement level. Since they’ve all spent up and the sooner they accept that the better. However loitering on the periphery is the punters folly. For deep down they know no pot of cash is going to magically appear before them and that hanging around is only going to make them feel worse. Let the little loser voice in their head ring louder and louder.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
One Central Macau Novos Aterros do Porto Exterior, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
One Central Macau Novos Aterros do Porto Exterior, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Performance Lake. Wynn Macau. MacauR. Cidade de Sintra, MO Rua Cidade de Sintra NAPE
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
The Getaway Car. Wynn Hotel. 394 Rue Cidade de Sintra, Macau
2019

Getting away in a hurry for those who have lost a pile of cash, is a prerogative.  Emotionally they offer themselves very little forgiveness, certainly not for the system that has ‘robbed them’ of their hard swindled fortunes! Stepping demonically on the gas, leaving the marble and glitter, and fancy shop windows behind them, it’s now all about flinging themselves into the Puntopia’s clogged streets.  Arteries of traffic madness!  It’s a flee and forget thing.

Having a performance getaway car might alleviate a little of that psychological misery. Helping them commiserate over their foolishness, and sense of loss. I mean, surely dropping a few million on the roulette tables gotta hurt even the most resilient zillionaire….

So they sit there in their getaway car, doing the hurry up and wait, stuck in the traffic, listening to the growl of the V-8 engine slurping on that high octane fuel.  It helps too, having the hired dolly bird beside them, massaging their aching crotch.

Look she's happy. The dolly bird. Because the getaway car trunk is full of shopping bags. She's got her fill of designer clothes, shoes and handbags, plucked greedily from luxury brand stores. She made sure she got what she wanted on his credit card, before she opened her legs and offered up her honey pot. It's a deal made in heaven. Or hell, depending on how willing he was to keep signing credit card chits. Chits for tits. No chits and no tits, or anything else for that matter....

But now she's on her merry way, he's on his un-merry way, and never shall the twain meet, ever again.... ! He keeps the getaway car,  for future getaways, and she keeps the shopping spree items, and will add to them, on the next shopping spree, with a guy with a different get away car….

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
The Unbridled Avarice of a Reptilian Kind. Shop S42 Wynn Macau Resort, Macau
2019

Real or faux reptilian skin is in. Be it bags, belts, or bad ass shoes. Avarice around Puntopia knows no bounds, and men and women alike, come to shop for things made out of the skins, or what at least appears to be the skins, of near extinct creatures. Shopping for things with scales has mass appeal.
You see in Chinese folklore, there is reptilian humanoid called Fuxi, credited as the 'original human' who according to legend, invented hunting, fishing, domestication.

The Chinese love a good legend, and so in copy cat style it's not hard therefore to understand, why in this modern age, Puntopia has become a regional centre for fishing for carnal pleasures, and hunting for things made of skin. Skin with scales is good. Things with skin with shiny scales is even better and in huge demand.

Look these people overlook the fact that millions of endangered snakes, lizards, crocodiles meet a gruesome death at the hands of the legions of poachers, hired for the most part by the gangsters and criminals who flock to Puntopia to blow their millions. Money they accrue from the wholesale slaughter of creatures whose effigy ironically adorns all the Chinese Mythology scrolls and calendars, but when it comes to making a 'killing', the gangsters don't give a pangolins backside about folklore and mythology. The only tradition around here is spend, buy, eat, fuck.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Wank-Atorium way. Rue de Pequim, Macau
2019

Around the back end of the Lisboa hotel, are alleys full of massage parlours and girlie bars. But this part of Puntopia, affectionately called wank-atorium way, is noted for it's group think services. For here gangs of inebriated men, shown the way by way of group leader, are taken to places where they can get their rocks off, en masse. It's a cheaper alternative to the more discreet 'boom boom massage' parlour, which cater for those wanting something discreet, but infinitely more expensive.

A wank-atorium is a wonderfully enriching, yet shared experience, and affordable too, for those who have already blown most of their 'relief budget' on the blackjack tables.

Wank-atoriums offer a cozy retreat for those who like the sound of mass ejaculation. Where the lads can all cum together. Group activities are big in Asia, and so rows of beds, in large windowless room, with nothing more than a curtain between themselves and their mates, has much appeal. They are the ultimate chuckle chamber. They do find it a bit of a giggle! Lying there, with their pants around their ankles,a fag drooping from a mouth agape, while the girls do their thing, with their mouths. The room filled slapping, slurping, gurgling sounds.

It's big business. The average turn around is 3 minutes. But if the girls are Vietnamese, it can be all over in less than 60 seconds.

They are brought in by Puntopia's hiring division. Contract work. The earn way more than they do back home, and to management, it makes sense to get the best girls in the business. For it's numbers game, and the more in and out's, on and off the beds they have in any given hour, the more money in the kitty for bosses and extended family. Of course the girls earn more too.

So the Viet girls are in big demand, for they have honed their 'blowing' skills in the Hot Toc parlours the length and breadth of Vietnam. They are way more diligent than the lazy Chinese gals. Thanh and Linh can have the most 'hard core' client as soft as putty within less time than they can burble 'aaaargh', with their zip zip zip mouth technique, while on another floor down, Zhang and Zang will be half-heartedly tugging away, just not making the quotas.
Wankatorium way is also called little Saigon, so plentiful are the pho shops around this part of town, serving the girls downstairs who slurp on noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in between bouts of slurping on things upstairs....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Grand Lisboa #1. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Up, Down, Left or Right? Countdown Hotel. Crown Towers Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

Life is a game of choices. Good decisions. Bad decisions. Decisions that can make or break us. Take us up, or down. Or horizontally. Sometimes we need to take a left turn in order to get to that place where a right turn is the right turn.

But for those who end up in Puntopia, choices are made for them. For very quickly they are asked to sign up for the Puntopia loyalty program. A decision most punters readily accept. Because they are the type of people who can't dismiss a good discount. And discounts is what they get. On their hotel rooms, meals, their booze. Shopping vouchers are handed out like confetti. Punters are encouraged to return to the same hotel, same restaurants, shops, bars, massage parlours. They get discounts galore. But not on the roulette tables and slot machines of course.

You see, it's all part of the establishments addiction agenda. Get the masses into something, onto something, over something. Under something. Then they return again and again and again.
The men young and old, love to be under the plethora of floozies that hang around in the hotel lobbies or along the Cotai strip. The women young and old are into wandering the glitzy shopping malls looking at the things many can't afford themselves but know their husbands or boyfriends can. Or rather must. The universal law applies around here. No money honey. No honey, honey. Everyone knows the rule.

Senior citizens predominantly, mostly women, come to Puntopia to keep themselves busy while getting over the loss of their partner. Usually something they celebrate. Not mourn.

Divorce or pre-mature death are common causes for the abundance of single, aged women around Puntopia. Their husbands have either run off with one of the bar floozies or died a pre-mature death, due to excessive alcohol and nicotine intake. So the old Tai Tai's come here alone to spend the proceeds of their late husbands estate or the divorce settlement. Either way they still love a good discount. And rummage around in their handbags for their mobiles, which contain the QR Code discount coupons.

Elevator up. Elevator down. Which way? Left or right? It doesn't really matter. They all end up in the same place eventually. The place they were yesterday and the day before that. Ultimately Puntopia is onto the fact that Punters are into the fact, that the as long at the system appears to be taking their best interests to heart, they'll happily keep coming back. Again and again and again.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
For Faux Sakes. MGM Cotai Av. da Nave Desportiva, Macau
2019

Here in Puntopia it's faux trees, flowers, birds, animals and reptiles for faux sakes. The people here demand it because they are rather faux themselves. They fawn wealth and sophistication and come here to wander from one gambling hall to another and shop in Puntopia's hermetically sealed biospheres of plastic, concrete, polished marbelite and imitation wood.

The faux creatures on display here, serve to remind them there is some semblance of a natural world out there, beyond the perspex windows, that supplies the scales, feather and fur for the apparel items they come to buy, or the rare meats or seafood delicacies that are listed on highly overpriced menus and served to them sauteed and on a bed of rice.

The faux fauna and flora are purposely displayed where people tend to seek moments of respite from the tables and slot machines. Places where they can light a cigarette, take a breather and gawk at their mobile devices. The giraffe effigies in foam or lizard representations on plasma screens are strategically placed as a form of advertising. They see a crocodile. They think hand bag. They see a shark. They think soup. They see a lion, they think rug. They see a tiger, they think magic fuck potion.
The bird calls they hear piped through hidden speaker systems all around them, subliminally prompts them to consider sparrow for lunch or rare crested pigeon for dinner. For some it also reminds them of home where in tiny bamboo cages, they usually keep a song bird or two that have been snatched from the wild.

Aah Puntopia. A nature lovers dream....

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Taxi Driver. Centro Comercial. MacauEstr. do Istmo, City of Dreams, Taipa
2019

He’s around the clock. He does clockwork. He’s a meter taxi. That means he puts the meter on you. You climb in. It’s meter up. You climb out. It’s meter down. He lives by the meter. It’s life by the kilometer. He’s sick of it. But what else can he do. He’s got kids to feed, and a nagging wife. He’d love to elope with the working girls he drops around town. But he can’t afford them. Only the fat cats and high rollers can. The dolly birds. They have their meters running too. Just a different kind of meter. Something like a thermometer. The hotter the VIP’s and the FCT’s get, the more the girls charge. They want them par boiled. Not sexually but financially.

Meanwhile, down in the basement he expunges body odours and the pong of cheap perfume from his Crown. He leaves the doors open while he wipes the dash and front and back seats. He’s compelled to remove Puntopia’s filth. A sort of grey residue that dusts most surfaces inside his Toyota. The filth outside. He doesn’t give a fuck about. Actually he knows that’s a lie. He often thinks about wiping away a lot more than just sweat, skin flakes, cigarette ash and asphalt particles. He’d like to exfoliate a few of the big money wankers. Those with lots of snots and zero manners. Yes. He’d like to drop them over the side of Macau bridge. Head first. Into the gurgling shit brown sea below.

But right now, it’s time for him to load the meter, start the engine and go suck up to another 8 hours of cruising Puntopia’s clotted streets….

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Gas Station. Estr. Gov. Nobre de Carvalho, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
The Wicked Witches of the East. Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

The wicked witches of the East. The malevolent rulers of Puntopia. Those who tyrannize their menfolk. Menfolk, been their husbands, boyfriends or fuck buddies! It doesn't really matter to them who they are. For the sisters, it's all about getting to Puntopia to spend, buy, eat and spend more. The men are merely the conduit. The channel. The means to an end. They look upon their male escorts as none other than chaperones from hotel to casino and back to the hotel, who have no choice but to pick up the tab along the way.

Once having arrived at the great shimmering edifices of Puntopia, and their de-facto walking cash machine male companions have settled in, left hunched over their chips and all set to lose a few mill, the sisters slip away. To other tables and corners of the gargantuan halls filled with predominantly dour looking faces. They like to gamble his money, but pretend they are single and stinking rich. So anonymity on other decks is preferred.

Then it's time for the sisters rendezvous. Orchestrated in advance back in China, via Wechat. Sexting too. Not with each other of course. No sexting is merely frivolous flirting in between more serious sister talk, with the other men, that fill their holes in exchange for money, when the men folk they have left back in the halls are not available or have run out of cash.

But ultimately the sisters prefer their own company, needing time together to skinner, gossip and scheme on how to blow even more of their duenna's dosh. Picking a pricey eatery on his card, is one such way. Quaffing overpriced steaks, waffles, ice cream and coffee and showing off their designer label apparel purchases is the name of the game. The exploits and sexploits. It's all part of the Puntopia allure.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Signature Club. Centro Comercial. MacauEstr. do Istmo, City of Dreams, Taipa
2019

The men in black know the cameras up high, above their heads, are watching them as much as they are watching the punters; they are been watched watching the watched.

For the men in black observing and being observed know it's the name of the game. Welcome to the City of Dreams. They play their part, in the dream surveillance state.

The men in black stand below black eyed ceiling cameras, which relay choppy footage to eyes backstage, beyond everyone's line of sight. Security central is always full of chatter...

The men in black are part of the system designed to catch the punters cheating. Punters who cheat get ruffed up. Punters who are seen losing are left alone to lose more. Those who turn up dreaming of fortunes, often leave in tears.

The men in black greet you with 'welcome to the city of dreams', all knowing that behind the gloss n glitter facade it's the humming of dirty closed circuit TV's and the buzz of the push to talk, coiled security radio earpieces.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Series. Puntopia. Title: dupliCITY. Av. de Cotai, Taipa. Macau.
2019

Puntopia is a double-crossers delight. The management know this and therefore they are on the look out for them. One double crosser is a headache. Two double-crossers is a much bigger headache.

Now this time they have to deal with a double crosser, often referred to as double dealer, who appears very cunningly to duplicate himself. Not once. But twice. Let's say by way of some sort of deceptive process. Like an optical illusion for example.

They (the management) are now forced to deal with the notion of a double-crosser doing a double duplicity stunt, and that starts the alarm bells ringing. For them, dealing with what appears to be four two timers and certainly a two fold increase in double dealers, at any one time does cause some consternation in the surveillance room.

They have to very quickly access the authenticity of the duplicate, and gauge the intensity of it's audacity, tenacity and potential ferocity with regards to having the capacity.....to rip the management off with an unbiased rapacity.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Series. Puntopia. Title: Under the Skin. Av. de Cotai, Taipa. Macau.
2019

You see them wander Puntopia's glitzy malls with ruddy faces, and you might think it's a casino cognac flush! But no, it's more serious than that. They're overtaken with what's known as a Puntopia induced 'wanting' flush. Not flush with cash mind you, but desire. This is lust so acute it gets under their skin, like scarlet fever. It's a sort of foot down, full throttle craving for the shiny red object. An icon of style, with a name they can't pronounce, with a price tag they can't afford.

The punters here today, from Dingnan county with their cheap dolly birds, hoping to win the jackpot, have most probably never heard of Enzo, and sadly, Enrico from Manila, charged with keeping an eye on it, this objet d'art and desire, has to make sure they don't scratch it. For while peering inside hoping to get a glimpse of it's leathery interior is not banned, they, the punters, almost squatting down to see through low windows, at close quarters, often in a state of inebriation, does give the management reason to enroll Enrico to stand close and attentive.

He doesn't speak Spanish or Chinese, only Tugalog and English. The punters don't speak Italian. It doesn't matter to the management. Punters must be seen and preferably not heard. They can look but can't touch, and unless they win the jackpot they can't have either.....it's Enrico's job to enforce the house rules. 24/7, 365 days a year.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Signature Club. Centro Comercial. MacauEstr. do Istmo, City of Dreams, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Morpheus. City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Out through the in door.
2019

Galaxy Macauâ„¢ Estrada da Baía da Nossa Senhora da Esperança, s/n, COTAI, Macao

The blue planet, Earth, whirls around the sun with the harvest moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus as glowing companions. Unlike a revolving door, their inertia is spent across eons of time. At the Galaxy, punters spin in through the outdoor and spin out through the in door.

Here in the subdued galactic light life is a game of chance, that rotates around spinning wheels, and twirling little white orbs….those hoping to hit the supernova jackpot, give one last throw of the dice…

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
MGM Casino Macau. Av. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Praca de Dom Afonso, Macau
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Morpheus City of Dreams, Estr. do Istmo, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Hotel Lisboa. 2-4 Av. de Lisboa, Macau
2019

Accretion disks are rings of super heated gases which turn around dark central regions and point to places where black holes are expected to lurk.   At this rim of bright light, one supposedly stands at the event horizon, which it has been said is the ultimate prison wall — one gets in, but one never gets out. You see, a black hole's event horizon is essentially the point from which nothing can return.  Not even light. 

Puntopia's dazzle lures gambling addicts from afar, where they come to witness their very own event horizon. Tiptoeing to the edge of the abyss. Falling headfirst into financial black holes.  The gravitational pull to spin and spend, consume, buy, squander, ingest, sniff, snort, fuck, loan, steal, and often die.  Their open hotel window becomes the event that leads them to a fall into OBLIVION.

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia
Grand Royalton, One Grantai, Estrada Governador Nobre de Carvalho
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Gas Station. Estr. Gov. Nobre de Carvalho, Taipa
2019

RICHARD MARK DOBSON Puntopia Pigment Ink on Hahenmuhle Photo Silk Baryta 310gsm
Rue de Desporto, Taipa
2019

Opposites attract or do they? This image, all horizontal and vertical lines, beckon us to consider the two figures, converging,
• (converge on/upon) come from different directions and meet at (a place): half a million gambling fans will converge on the punting capital that is Puntopia.

It's been a long hard night on the tables, he centre stage, all trussed up with memories of capitulation, his money not limitless. The other fella in blue, well he's heading to the Venetian, hopeful....

The banyan trees, hemmed by brick, glass and concrete court the eye. They offer for those willing to see, a way out of addiction to chance and the clutches of linearity....for their shadowy diagonal branches offer a clue to the reality of non-linearity. Life is a game of luck?


 
PUNTOPIA

I knew Macau had modernized and had become a mega Chinese gambling mecca on a scale equal to Las Vegas.  The sleepy quaint Portuguese flavoured backwater I remembered from the early 90’s had long been buried under steel and concrete .  It had eclipsed Vegas some time ago in terms of revenues generated.  My interest then was to return after a 27 year absence and develop a series I would call Puntopia. A sequel to the dystopian street photography series I created a year earlier in Hong Kong.  A collection of images with a neo noir vibe. Work I call Neonopolis. Puntopia I thought is where I present a sort of futuristic pleasure dome, the place where Neonopolis fat cats and high rollers come to play and gamble away their illicit fortunes.  

Like with all of my street projects it often takes some time before I begin to see the nuances of place and a style emerges. I like to let what I’m seeing and feeling decide the visual narrative/style of the pictures.  For example high key, low key.  In fact my camera dictates to me how this is going to emerge stylistically.  Yes the ‘look’ almost has a life of its own.  I don’t ‘try’ to force anything.  And I don’t mean the story!  Because a lot of what I do today is less about story and more about vibe.  The vibe is the story, the narrative is the vibe.  The construct of the picture and how I frame eventually becomes central to the way the series emerges photographically speaking.  The cameras finds the frame and vibe for me.  At least it seems that way to me.  I find that a fascinating process.  Hence my love for street photography.

In the case of Puntopia the myriad floors and walkways of hotels, mega shopping complexes and casinos are paradoxically the streets.  Retail high streets tucked away in gargantuan glitzy malls. 100’s of kilometers of shopping and eating strips, stuffed with nothing else but A-list brands, Gucci, Bulgari, Hermes, Prada, Kate Spade.  Add in the multi-level gambling floors from VIP to mass gaming across the 49 plus Macau casinos.  Equally the preponderance of colossal 60 floor high hotels scattered across both Macau and Taipei added another yet more levels of excess.  

Yes Puntopia is about excess.  Excessive gambling, eating, shopping.  Under the bright lights the punters dream. Desire. Succumb to the illusion. Mostly they don't get it. That gambling is the ultimate bait and switch. They are presented with glamour and gucci, but what they get is loss, poverty and despair. The odds are stark and real: the odds don't lie. They get buried in existential punting addiction and greed.

And within the serried ranks of this gambling madness there are legions of Chinese croupiers and observers, and security guards from places such as Wuhan, Tianjin, Manila, Katmandhu or Cox’s Bazaar.  They sit or stand watching, observing 12 hours a day.  They watch the winners and losers, the big spenders.  They are watched themselves by the big bosses upstairs!  Eyes and cameras are everywhere.   Frugality is a dirty word in Macau. Unless of course you are one of the security team on a minimum wage. Uncountable numbers of tourist and gamblers from mainland China descend on the town, bussed in and out. 24/7.  The place never sleeps.  The shops never close.  Hookers linger day and night. 

Oh and it’s all so amazing stylish.  The level of grandeur is stupendous.  The quality of furnishings opulent beyond my wildest dreams.  I thought to myself.  Goodness when I walked this enclave some 25 years ago, those across the border were still walking about in blue, grey or green Mao suits.  And in many cases rags too.  Could they have ever imagined this level of luxury and sophistication? And if not, then why are they not showing amazement now as they stroll around heads bowed into their smart phones?  They seemed to be missing the miracle of it all.  I certainly wasn’t!

Ultimately there are so many sub-subjects buried within this place I call Puntopia that I could never hope to complete the work I envisage in just 5 days.  The images you see here are merely just the building blocks to something bigger.  

I would like to get in much closer to the gambling tables, and capture the tempo, moods and characters of the players.  The nuances of winning and losing big money.  Cooperation from the casinos will be necessary.  Or I go in with some spy cameras.  There is the ‘hidden’ sex industry.  Massage parlous and karaoke bars.  All of these take serious time to penetrate (excuse the pun), if one can get access at all.  Therefore certainly for now, I’m more than happy to make inference to some of these no-go areas. I like to imagine what’s happening in that building, room or behind those closed doors.  Imagination is a fascinating thing.

 
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