If, like me, you thoroughly enjoyed the otherworldly mood of Jonas Daley’s reimagining of the Black Gobi, you must be curious about the rest of his enchanted landscape projects. So, let’s dive even deeper in the worlds he rebuilds with magical realism, this time in the mysteriously named Urho Ghost City.
As with the Black Gobi, the Ghost City — or Wind City, as it is also sometimes called — was an obvious choice for Daley for yet another hypnotic body of work. With all the otherworldly rock formations that make up the barren landscape, it was the perfect creative playground for the Shenzen-based photographer and visual artist.
A perfect setting for magical realism
According to Daley, the strangely-shaped, large-scale formations were made by long-term wind erosion. They resemble eerie castles standing tall over the vastness of the Gobi Desert. It’s no surprise that he found himself experimenting with the idea of showcasing his 2016 snaps of unique landscape with a touch of colorful magical realism.
For those of us who are yet to explore the Urho Ghost City, he also included a riveting description to stir our imagination:
“Going deep into it, you will find it extremely horrible. The city is surrounded by a great number of grotesque mounds, of which some equate four stories. The side wall of them is steep. From its section, the deposition textures are quite visible. Dry and cracked loess distributes at the foot, with dead atmosphere around. Even the night with no blowing wind makes people fear and tremble.”
Building a world of vivid colors
Central to Daley’s idea of magical realism are the vivid colors that instantly transport us to worlds born out of his imagination. As with his Black Gobi series, he recreates the Ghost City’s famed landscape into alien landscapes. With candy-colored skies and neon-hued terrain, he definitely takes his viewers to a psychedelic treat.
While this fantastic color palette and and otherworldly visual style may not resonate to everyone, I can definitely appreciate Daley’s creative vision for this body of work. Reimagining familiar places is always an interesting approach for creatives, but we don’t often see it in landscape photography. I find it fascinating that by simply switching up the colors, photographers are able to whisk us away to worlds both strange and familiar to us.
Maybe you don’t have to travel somewhere with a mystical mood or resembling an alien landscape to be able to give this a try. If you’re in an experimental mood, why not get a little playful with color grading as a creative exercise and see what kind of world you’ll build for your audience?
All photos by Jonas Daley. Used with permission.