Get a sense of the future of Tokyo through virtual experience


Following on from the success of his recent photography project that explored the past, present and future of Tokyo’s danchi (public housing), Cody Ellingham has returned to the roots of what spawned the series: “deriving”. Wandering the city at night, Ellingham has garnered a popular online presence where he shares his beautiful nightscapes, predominantly from Tokyo, but also more recently from other Asian cities that he has visited such as Taipei and Shanghai.

Now he is taking things further, joining with Ruben Fro and SJF to create “FUTURE CITIES”, a small and intimate two day installation exploring Tokyo through photogrammetry and an interactive audio visual experience. “Seeing all these future cities like Shanghai, I wanted to do something exploring that. But not just with photography which is my main thing,” explains Ellingham. “I wanted to turn it into something that people could experience. I knew Ruben was into 3D and so we started talking and working closely. We jammed a few times and starting playing with concepts. We then brought SJF into the project and other ideas started coming in.”

Using a 360 camera, Ellingham and Fro mapped various parts of Tokyo before using specialist software and techniques to manipulate and enhance the footage. The result is a fragmented reality that moves away from pixel-perfect photography and into a more ephemeral and temporary concept. “People don’t really look up from their phones or devices,” says Ellingham. “We’re living in a city but it’s a virtual city and we’re trying to ask the question what’s real and what’s virtual.” Projected onto a large wall, users can navigate through this virtual space using a controller — the elements become more abstract the further you move from the path and slowly dissipate as you get closer to it. The journey aims to replicate a dream sequence, where the world itself is generated as you float through it with different areas seamlessly connecting. “We’re not really giving any answers,” he says. “We just want to create a dialogue — we want people to feel it and maybe have a transformative experience.”

The team’s vision for the project is closely tied to the installation itself. Accompanied by a generative soundscape created by SJF, the installation features dynamic elements that will allow it to continue evolving over the period of the exhibition. Sounds from outside sources are able to affect the colors within their virtual world, further bridging the gap between the virtual and the real. It will also be the first time all three of the creators have been in the same space together, tweaking and playing with it while it’s active.

Currently there are no plans for what Ellingham, Fro and SJF have created to be experienced in any other way. “When we turn the projectors off this world will disappear,” says Ellingham. “Tokyo is always changing, it’s always disappearing and our world will disappear too.”

December 1 – 2
11am-8pm. ¥1,000 (includes limited-edition booklet).
ARTnShelter, 1-19-10 Higashi-Oi, Shinagawa-ku.
Station: Samezu