Nickolay Lamm

An artist imagines the city with propaganda posters and limited lighting.

Researcher and Photoshop mastermind Nickolay Lamm has done it again. After remarkably re-imagining America’s coastal cities under rising sea levels (see the GIFs here), the Pittsburgh-based digital artist took to his computer-cum-city wrecker once more to imagine the famous sights of New York City, such as the bright lights of its night skyline, as they would appear in everyone’s favorite authoritarian curiosity and headline darling, the North Korean capital city Pyongyang.

Inspired by Pyongyang’s reputation for being a "sight to behold" because ”no artificial lighting competes with the intensity of the stars,” as described by Barbara Demick in her book Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Lamm used Photoshop to rob New York of its glittering lights and modify social behaviors and tourist landmarks of Times Square.

With electricity being rationed to the point of a commodity in Pyongyang, New York’s iconic night skyline becomes rather dim, so much so that you can see stars. Fascinatingly, Demick writes that Pyongyang’s darkness actually works as an agent of privacy and freedom: "Wrapped in a magic cloak of invisibility, you can do what you like without worrying about the prying eyes of parents, neighbors, or secret police."

Bustling Times Square is transformed into a rather quiet, reserved public space, as private car ownership is largely illegal, and any signage is often used for political propaganda (hence Obama giving a salute). Many social behaviors such as holding hands and other displays of affection, can also land the city’s residents in trouble. Houses are simple, modest, and unitarian. The Big Apple becomes the Suppressed Apple.

Check out more of Lamm’s amazing Photoshop transformations on his website.

All images courtesy of Nickolay Lamm. This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

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