In this visual essay, Greek filmmaker Yiannis Biliris documents the all-pervasive pall of glass that covers the modern city. The three-and-a-half-minute-long film, produced by Visual Suspect and shot entirely in Hong Kong, captures the vivid reflections seen in the facades of the city’s buildings, as Biliris selectively pans and zooms his camera to instill a strong sense of urgency in the viewer’s mind.
The essay, beautifully haunting in its imagery, might be seen as a reflective commentary on the state of our built environment today. Inspired by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which states that mass causes a distortion in space and time, it seems to subtly ask if our understanding of reality is warped itself. Describing the video as “a visual essay about perception and knowledge as [a] reflection of our reality,” Biliris comments that “mass curves space and time, while the observer has his own perspective.”
Why do we continue to shroud our buildings in glass veneers when we’re aware of the horrifying environmental impacts of our actions? Why do we still routinely talk about glass structures as transparent and freeing when glass more typically, as shown in the video, reflects and distorts, inhibiting our true appreciation of space? Following a striking image of a lone tree in a sterile plaza, the film ends in the framing of a host of people on a city sidewalk. As their reflections ripple off the window-panes of a moving bus, these people represent the primacy of human experience as the more important consideration in the design of our cities.