Street Use

Improvisation in Thailand


Thomas Kalak is a photographer from Munich, Germany who specializes in the offbeat. His subject is the curious art of found technology. He’s accumulated a magnificent gallery of old American cars in Cuba called “Havana Oldtimers“. In Thailand he focuses on the often-seen but rarely-noticed jumble of wires that weave their way overhead every street. Adhoc in design, these almost organic nests have their own charm if you let them seduce you. Kalak has collected an entire portfolio of Bangkok Wires.

These and more are included in a new book about Thailand called “Thailand — Same Same, But Different. No cliches here. No lovely maids, palm beaches or grand temples. Instead Kalak captures odd moments of street use. Plastic chairs in alleys; traffic cone patterns. Even the locals are blind to their off-center beauty.  Kalak has a keen eye for the way folks improvise. I think of this work as improv zen.


The ubiquitous plastic bag becomes an instant cheap bottle if you add a straw. And you can hang it anywhere.


Owner-built key ring boards.


I think these are home-made brake lights. Suspended by a wire, a bulb inside a bottle covered with read plastic will light up at night.


Filled with water this can keeps the table cloth from blowing away.

Kalak Book 10

A mop made from old socks!!


Reflectors made from CDs.

Posted on July 27, 2008 at 8:26 pm | comments

  • Elizabeth Kaylene

    I like the homemade brake lights. All I can think of when I look at the water bags, though, is, What if the bag breaks?

    Still, these people are definitely resourceful! I’d like to pick their brains for more ideas.

  • james

    the brake lights are great. i need to do more exploring!

  • Michael Hodson

    Some really interesting shots here.

  • JJ

    i’ve lived in thailand for over 10 years and these plastic bags are some of the most reliable things ever, they don’t break. it’s more likely that they get pushed or knocked over than to snap :)

  • Jehanne Teo

    I’m from Singapore and in the older food stores they use water bags as a bottle too. The plastic bags don’t break that easily. Though standing up on its own can be a problem.