Unregistered City is a series of eight photographs depicting different scenes of a vacant, apparently post-apocalyptic city: Some are covered by dust and others are submerged by water. Yet, ambiguous lights blink from buildings and yachts still sail on the water, and further observation reveals these structures to be miniatures manipulated by the artist through Photoshop and other postproduction image tools. The model city’s surroundings are themselves real abandoned spaces, perhaps an empty room, a wait-to-be demolished building, or a discarded bathtub.
Jiang Pengyi is a photographer who observes cities through the lens of his camera. His photographs have a dispassionate attitude towards the unprecedentedly fast urbanization of China. Through long-term exposure—sometimes over fifty minutes—and image manipulation, Jiang creates surreal and apocalyptic scenarios that suggest a disastrous future. For Jiang, skyscrapers are spectacles that evidence the mythologization of modern urban life. And by virtue of his technical strategies, the illuminated skyscrapers in Illuminant—a hotel, a government building, a news agency—appear bizarrely alive as if creatures from outer space. Though highly aesthetic and
Polished, Jiang’s images trigger an unidentified sense of fear and discomfort.