Traveling on an extremely crowded subway is one of my least favorite things ever. So, when I saw this photo series by German-born artist Michael Wolf, I was both intrigued and horrified. In the series, entitled Tokyo Compression, the Hong Kong-based photographer spent time studying the culture of Tokyo, focusing specifically on the individuals who spend their daily commute packed onto the city subway trains.

The photographs in the project highlight the downside to living in a big city. Cheeks are pressed against the steamy glass and faces are lost in a daydream as people try to disconnect from their uncomfortable travels to and from home. Wolf says the photographs represent “chiefly the tragedy of the human condition. What you see is not the result of a natural catastrophe. Man is responsible for this himself—a dreadful system for people, and by people.”


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