Penn Station, New York City

Paris

Columbus Circle, New York City

Radio City Music Hall, New York City

Radio City Music Hall, New York City

Beijing

Beijing

Times Square, New York City

Paris

Paris

Co.Design

What NYC and Beijing Would Look Like, Without All The People

Ever wonder what Times Square or Grand Central would look like without the swirling masses? Read on.

Like a lot of New Yorkers who grouse about crowds and stare down tourists barricading the sidewalk with their shopping bags, and I guess like Cameron Crowe, too, I fantasize about what the city would be like if everyone just momentarily disappeared. Here to offer a taste are Paris-based photographers Lucie & Simon. In Silent World, the pair visualizes some of the busiest, most famous public places in the world, including Times Square and Grand Central, almost completely devoid of people.

“In the Silent World project, we wanted to study and transform our world’s most symbolic metropolises (New York, Beijing, Paris, Rome) into imaginary, fictional, impossible places,” the photographers say. So there’s the Champs-Élysées stripped of its endless stream of cars and Radio City Music Hall with crowd-control gates but, eerily, no crowds to control.

Lucie & Simon created the photographs by first taking a long-exposure picture. That has the effect of erasing cars, people, and anything else that moves. Then they mixed together details of the long-exposure shot and those of standard fraction-of-a-second photographs to make a composite that resembles “a frozen moment stolen from an imaginary world,” they say.

An imaginary world that is not totally post-human, mind you. Lucie & Simon usually include at least one person in the frame--a Little Red Riding Hood look-alike next to Madison Square Garden say, or a frightened older woman in front of Rockefeller Plaza. I’m guessing these people are supposed to lend the compositions an air of mystery. And I suppose they do. Personally, though, I’m just jealous they get New York all to themselves.

[Images courtesy of Lucie & Simon]

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2 Comments

  • Sanjana

    I'm trying to imagine Mumbai like this, and it's such a paradigm shift that my brain instantly rejects it.

  • SR

    interesting, but part of what enriches the city experience is all the people swirling and bustling about. i live in the burbs and enjoy going into my city (chicago) on a nice day to people-watch and pick up on some of the crowd's energy