Christian Åslund

Introducing the Chinese metropolis of Honkey Kong.

The Romans tried to imitate the sculpture of the Greeks; Christian Aslund is attempting to resurrect the aesthetic of 80's video games.

Aslund, a photographer in Sweden, has channeled the side-scrolling levels of Super Mario Bros. et al. in the most difficult way imaginable: by photographing real-life models from the top of Hong Kong skyscrapers. He calls the series: "Honkey Kong."

"We wanted to shoot it live on location in Hong Kong," he wrote in an email. "The feeling of the images being shot in the field is more authentic and very difficult to resample in the studio." So, after pitching the concept as a campaign for the shoe company Jim Rickey, he traveled to Hong Kong with a small production team.

Getting the shots proved more difficult than he had thought when visiting a local rooftop with a friend a few months earlier. To overcome the language barrier, the team hired a couple of Cantonese speakers. Finding and accessing rooftops was also a challenge. All scouting, location testing and shooting took place in just four days.

By using a telephoto lens from great heights, Aslund manages to flatten the scenes, strengthening the visual link to 2D games in an urban context that's more GTA than Donkey Kong. Instead of hiring models, he used crew members in the photos, with whom he communicated by walkie-talkie, helping them fine-tune their poses.

"It was possible to create the feeling of the model being the player's alter-ego, the character, and the actual image would be the player's perspective," he says. "We've all been up on a higher point looking down, but perhaps not thought of it in that way."

Speaking into his walkie-talkie, Aslund could also inform the models of the risks of oncoming traffic -- they were often lying in the middle of busy streets. And this was not, after all, a video game.

All images courtesy of Christian Aslund.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of high-rises in Songdo, billed as the world's "smartest" city.
    Life

    Sleepy in Songdo, Korea’s Smartest City

    The hardest thing about living in an eco-friendly master-planned utopia? Meeting your neighbors.  

  2. A young man rides a hoverboard along a Manhattan street toward the Empire State Building in New York
    Transportation

    Why Little Vehicles Will Conquer the City

    Nearly all of them look silly, but if taken seriously, they could be a really big deal for urban transportation.

  3. Equity

    How HUD Could Reverse Course on Racial Discrimination

    The housing agency plans to revisit its rule regarding “disparate impact,” a legal doctrine that prohibits discrimination that happens because of a policy whose language is otherwise neutral.

  4. Maps

    Inside the Massive U.S. 'Border Zone'

    All of Michigan, D.C., and a large chunk of Pennsylvania are part of the area where Border Patrol has expanded search and seizure rights. Here's what it means to live or travel there.

  5. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.