Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Depending on the city you’re in, do you feel like you’re transforming into a whole new person? Do you feel any different when staying in a destination with endless natural expanses, compared to an area full of skyscrapers?
Being in a bustling and ever-changing city like Cairo, director Karim Shaaban is interested in looking at how cities affect us as people, something he explored in his Human Architecture project.
Iceland that embodies lightness
Influenced by Milan Kundera’s novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, which he read more than once, Shaaban’s heart erupted in a desire to create a visual comparison to embody the struggle between lightness and heaviness.
When he last read the book in 2019, the author pondered the idea of ”living as people who feel light and heavy with our dreams, ambitions, and responsibilities,” he said in an interview with CNN in Arabic.
Since Iceland was one of the popular destinations in Shaaban’s heart due to its nature and its vast areas, the director decided to go to it, and compare its “lightness” with a destination opposite to it, with a “fast pace”, as he put it, which is Hong Kong.
The photographer documented the project in late March of 2019.
Since the project is closely related to the spaces, Shaaban decided to document it using a drone.
His itinerary in Iceland included destinations such as “Seljalandsfoss” and “Skógafoss” waterfalls, as well as the charming “Reynisfjara” beach, which is characterized by its black sand.
Shaaban stressed that the Icelandic nature is characterized by “a very special character… The geographical and topographical nature of the lands there is very different.”
Unlike the capitals Shaaban has previously visited, Reykjavik is distinguished by its low-rise buildings that allow you to see the sky, and its spacious streets.
Part of the earth, sky, and life
During his trip, during which he crossed an area of about 500 kilometers by car, the photographer encountered many scenes that made him ask his tour guide to stop the vehicle, so that he could document it.
Shaaban headed to Hong Kong right after he finished filming in Iceland.
The photographer documented the high towers of the city, and its streets, which are crowded all the time.
In contrast to Hong Kong, which is characterized by skyscrapers obscuring the view of the sky, one can see the horizon, and the empty spaces, in Iceland.
Shaban noted that in Iceland, one feels “a part of the earth, the sky, and life,” stressing that “each city has its own character.”
However, the aim of the project was to express at the level of feelings, how different destinations affect their inhabitants, and the way one interacts with life.
Although he wanted to hire a production company to help him achieve his vision, Shaaban decided to shoot himself because of his great attachment to the idea, especially as this would enable him to better embody what he feels.
The photographer stayed in Iceland for about 4 days.
The project posed a challenge, as Shaaban had no experience operating drones for the purpose of filming.
Therefore, the photographer gave himself the opportunity to practice using it for a day in Iceland before starting to document the project.
And the weather factors in Iceland posed another challenge as well, due to the strong winds that made the camera shake during filming.