Tian-zi-fang, Shanghai

Monday, January 18, 2010


Neuromancer, Midgar Slums - Final Fantasy VII, Blade Runner, all things Cyberpunk. These are the themes that flooded my mind while walking beneath the dancing-neon lit streets of Shanghai. This composite image was strung together from a series taken in a little shopping district called "Tian-zi-fang". I ended up using an image of Karen taken here in the U.S. and overlaying on top of a blank sign with adjoining kanji (shared both in Chinese & Japanese) that reads "house of dreams".

This is an old street dotted with local style Shikumen Houses (small multi-leveled tiered structures), which is one symbol of Shanghai folk culture. Can't help but think of level design in these sort of instances. Instinctively I start making note of landmarks and visualize a top down map while navigating and surveying the area meter by meter (Fatal Frame 2 comes to mind). On this street, you can find many independent art studios. Creative business types crowd here, creating a modern atmosphere. Also, you can find some characteristic shops selling delicious eats n' treats, clothes, ornaments, and handcrafts.

(Used Karen's shoulder as a tripod to take this one)

Tian-zi-fang possesses a narrow labyrinthine of networked alleyways and side paths. It simply is fun to explore every nook and cranny just to see what little treasure of visual language the next corner will revile. Outside this district monstrous-modern Shanghai continues to develop at an absurd pace, but somehow Tian-zi-fang is self contained in its own vacuum allowing the charm, history, and integrity to still weave magic among the curious foot traffic.

(Shanghai looking down on Tian-zi-fang)

(Little junction area)

(My hookah kitty!)

(Fallen lantern on a cold rainy day)