“I wanted to look my best for Rio,” wrote the famous Italian aviator Francesco de Pinedo in his travelogues, “There she lay, fragrant and colorful, voluptuously reclining beside the sea.” Le Corbusier echoed similar gendered reflections of the city when he likened Rio de Janiero’s “dancing” landscape of lush islands and sculpted peaks to the bodies of women. What prompted these “poetic” formulations was the bird’s eye spectacle newly afforded by the airplane, which offered privileged encounters with the city inaccessible to all but the brave and daring. Even with the introduction and integration of Google Maps into contemporary culture, these same encounters remain exclusive to experience of flight, in the sense that the airplane is the only medium in which one may truly inhabit the oblique.
Most of us cannot pilot our own planes over Rio and will, thus, miss out on the ride. This short film, however, does a great job of approximating (part of) the experience. Entitled “The City of Samba”, the film uses tilt-shift photography to bring Rio to life, framing the city’s peculiar geography as a vast kinetic mix of miniature buildings, toy-like vehicles, and ant-sized humans. The first half of the video ogles over Rio’s rich hybrid landforms of fertile forests and steel infrastructure, observing the frenetic traffic flows, tide cycles, and pedestrian exchanges which animate the city by day, while the second half finds Rio in the throes of Carnaval, with an endless stream of eclectic floats and animatronic wildlife parading down avenues. Watching the city mobilize for the event is especially fascinating, an incredible display of urban logistics which will surely be dwarfed by the spectacle of the 2014 World Cup.
This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.