Title: Before Midnight
Date: October 2020
Location: New York City, NY
At the core of the cyberpunk genre is a vision of the dystopian future "polluted" by human technology. It constructs the dichotomy of a technologically advanced world inhabited by millions of deprived citizens who are incapable of accessing these luxuries. Whereas the creators and owners of these technologies, the mega-corporations rule over the world from massive and lofty skyscrapers at ease. Essentially, "Before Midnight" shows the aspect of the cyberpunk genre where it amplifies the inequality of our social system and reminds us that the dystopia portrayed in cyberpunk films will come true if we do not confront it.
Initially originated from literature, the modern genre of cyberpunk cinematography is often associated with the elements of densely populated urban cities, clustered building structures, and the hierarchical differences among citizens for a reason. The US population grew faster than ever during the late 90s, which directly inspired visions of a massively overpopulated future with crumbling megacities. Moreover, the rate of violent crime reached its peak during the 90s, which darks the cinematography of the time with a focus on drugs, gangs, and corruption. On the other hand, high-tech companies like Microsoft and Apple started taking over the country with their booming science and technological progress. Therefore, with its rapid population growth, technological development, and socio-economic divide, New York City seems well suited to explore the cyberpunk genre. Inundated by excessive neon lights, abundant human crowds, and lofty skyscrapers, the city is in its most "animated" form when night falls, and everyone starts wandering on the illuminated streets.
"Before Midnight" is the first part of my experiment, mostly focusing on capturing visually-packed scenarios at crowded streets, popular tourist sites, and landmark locations to imply the dichotomy of social decline, combined with rapid corporate and technological growth. I seek interactions between humans and the city's overwhelming technologies. Lofty skyscrapers are representations of overpowered mega-corporations that overlook the entire world. Drawing inspiration from Ridley Scott's original Blade Runner (1982), I chose blue and purple/pink as the primary color palette for this series. Blue and purple represent the future and technology. Combining two colors in the post-production process, I elevate midnight street scenes to a hyper-realistic cyberpunk dystopia to depict a futuristic version of New York City polluted by human technology.