Title: After Midnight
Date: November 2020
Location: New York City, NY
To me, the existence of advanced technological achievements is indispensable in a futuristic cyberpunk world. When hearing the word cyberpunk, I automatically think of the image of the cyborg operative, Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell (2017), who uses cybernetic augmentations, swapping organic body parts with machine replacements. The film explores the dark side of technology with the horrifying concept of mind-hacking, which is a way for someone to wirelessly upload false memories into victims to turn them into unknowing slaves. The word "Ghost" in the title means a human soul, which can be digitized and transplanted from organic to cyborg bodies. So the question is: are these cyborgs with real-human memories and personalities still human? At what point does the line between man and machine blur? With "After Midnight," I want to amplify the relationship between machine and humanity while implicating the second aspect of the cyberpunk genre, which explores the ongoing struggle between humans and cyborgs.
"After Midnight" is the second part of my integrated experiment, which explores the nocturnal world of New York City from an opposite perspective comparing to the previous series "Before Midnight." "After Midnight" seeks isolated moments instead of crowded streets. Through my journey of roaming the streets between midnight and sunrise, I tried to capture a glimpse of technology and human implications in forms of architectural structures, geometrical shapes, and texture. Instead of gigantic LED screens, countless contiguous billboards, and illuminated signs, "After Midnight" draws more attention to technological, mechanical, and humanoid objects.
For the post-editing process of the visual, inspired by Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 (2017), I chose orange and green as the primary color palette for this series. To me, orange expresses a sense of warning and caution but also mystery and exploration. Green connotes artificial lives and a fake vibrance. Orange lights re-defines the scenes with a sense of danger and urgency, while green lights function as the main tone for a future that's threatened by the ubiquitous presence of those mechanical and humanoid objects. Additionally, more contrast and fewer light sources add a mood of unsettling loneliness and tranquility, which implies the potential threat where a creation outgrew its creator.