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. photo: bicyclists in Paris during a transit strike in December.
    Transportation

    Paris Mayor: It's Time for a '15-Minute City'

    In her re-election campaign, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that every Paris resident should be able to meet their essential needs within a short walk or bike ride.

  2. animated illustration: cars, bikes, scooters and drones in motion.
    Transportation

    This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

    To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.

  3. Life

    Why Amsterdam May Clamp Down on Weed and Sex Work

    Proposals to ban cannabis for tourists and relocate the red-light district would dramatically reshape the city’s anything-goes image.

  4. photo: Cranes on the skyline in Oakland, California
    Life

    How to Make a Housing Crisis

    The new book Golden Gates details how California set itself up for its current affordability crunch—and how it can now help build a nationwide housing movement.

  5. Equity

    There Are Far More Americans Without Broadband Access than Previously Thought

    The Federal Communications Commission says 21 million Americans lack high-speed internet access, but a new report says the actual figure is double that.

×