• 07.13.16

These Surrealist Landscapes Imagine Architecture With No Limits

When our real and virtual worlds collide, we may live inside the fantastical realities that Stefan Larsson is rendering.

These Surrealist Landscapes Imagine Architecture With No Limits

What if your city were a true urban jungle, where skyscrapers didn’t just rise, but branched out and snaked around chasing sunlit views? With no limits on physical materials, these towers would expand organically and competitively, like a free market on Miracle Grow.


This is the vision of Stefan Larsson in his latest short, Spatial Bodies. Larsson is the one-man-band behind the Japanese studio AUJIK, where he spends countless hours end crafting highly articulated, minimally edited videos which fuse real world photography, 3D models, and a lot of imagination.

To create Spatial Bodies, Larsson filmed downtown Osaka with a drone. He motion tracked the footage and built it out in 3D Studio Max, filling out gaps in building details and proportions with Google Maps. The, to get the effect he wanted, he rebuilt Osaka itself through his lens, spending four months reconstructing buildings with up to a million polygons apiece.

“The primary reason I’m doing this is to visualize ideas, concepts and visions,” says Larsson. “To evoke new perspectives and aspects of things. To make the concrete abstract and vice verse. And I guess to challenge the perception to some extent.”

In Spatial Bodies–highlighted recently by Colossal–his vision is not necessarily Osaka of the future, but imagining the city as a living organism. There’s probably some thematic overlap to his other video work, like Polygon Graffiti: Karakuri, which uses a similar combination of real footage and CGI to fly the viewer through a future city where pixel-built public art structures live in harmony with the physical world. Both video shorts seem plausible within the bounds of Larsson’s bullish belief in the technologies of augmented reality, which when mature enough, will create mixed media environments where we cannot distinguish the Pokémon Go world from the real one.

“There will be no limits. No distinctions between what we define as the real world and a computer generated one,” says Larsson. “The possibilities to manipulate and deconstruct one’s environment will be beyond our current imagination.”

Which is why Larsson–along with his contemporaries like Victor Enrich and Filip Dujardin–spends so many hours photographing, mapping, and constructing their surrealist cityscapes. They want to expand our imagination by sharing their own. And as a result, we get a tour of Osaka that is quite the trip, without the vacation.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.