Paradise Now by Ryan Koopmans



A rendering displayed in The People’s Square depicting a cross-section of new development in Shanghai, complete with underground railway and pedestrian pathways devoid of trucks and motorcycles.
A rendering displayed in The People’s Square depicting a cross-section of new development in Shanghai, complete with underground railway and pedestrian pathways devoid of trucks and motorcycles.

Paradise Now explores how urban fantasies and construction function as expressions of nationalistic ambition, blurring the line between the natural and artificial within the hypermodern city.

Paradise Now is driven by my ongoing curiosity into the human condition, and a desire to visually interpret socio-cultural phenomena within both natural and man-made landscapes. I am drawn, photographically, to the world’s rapidly-expanding and hyper-globalized cities, particularly those that have invested heavily in large-scale urban planning and modernist/futurist architecture. I find that the topographically surreal environments that are products of that planning and architecture set the stage for interesting photo opportunities, from close up and afar.

Designed by famed British architect Sir Norman Foster, this $60 million, 250-foot-tall glass pyramid in the world’s youngest capital city, stands in isolation in the vast grasslands of the Kazakh steppe. Formerly the centre of the Soviet ‘Virgin Lands Campaign’ of the 1950’s, the town of Akmola has been transformed into the futuristic show city of Astana (“capital”).
Designed by famed British architect Sir Norman Foster, this $60 million, 250-foot-tall glass pyramid in the world’s youngest capital city, stands in isolation in the vast grasslands of the Kazakh steppe. Formerly the centre of the Soviet ‘Virgin Lands Campaign’ of the 1950’s, the town of Akmola has been transformed into the futuristic show city of Astana (“capital”).
At nightfall, large fantastical ceramic flowers illuminate the jungle slopes of Singapore’s man-made resort island, Sentosa, which draws five million visitors a year.
At nightfall, large fantastical ceramic flowers illuminate the jungle slopes of Singapore’s man-made resort island, Sentosa, which draws five million visitors a year.

About Ryan Koopmans

Ryan Koopmans (BA, MFA) is a photographer driven by the interdisciplinary practices of geography, art history, and psychology. Born in Amsterdam (1986) Ryan Koopmans was raised on Vancouver Island, completed his undergraduate education in Vancouver, and in 2012 received a Masters of Fine Art Photography + Video at The School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Koopmans is primarily interested in photographing the points of intersection where the natural and manmade converge. Thus he is drawn to surreal structures in our megacities and manufactured landscapes. Formal aesthetic qualities such as geometry, repetition and saturation help him illustrate the poetry of form in these fantastical locations.

Currently based in Amsterdam, Ryan Koopmans works on assigned and independent photography projects around the world. In 2016 he was named as one of PDN’s 30 photographers to watch in their annual list of emerging talent. Koopmans has exhibited internationally, and regularly shoots with clients including Mercedes-Benz and Montblanc, as well as a range of artists, magazines, and editorial publications. [Official Website]

Arctic morning light on a snow-capped Siberian mountain range bordering the Chukchi and Bering Seas.
Arctic morning light on a snow-capped Siberian mountain range bordering the Chukchi and Bering Seas.

ControlNew York CityUSA 2010 MotherboardJiangsuChina 2012 InterchangeShanghaiChina 2012 Slow DownSentosa IslandSingapore 2011 ReservoirMarina SouthSingapore 2011 Swan FakeAstanaKazakhstan 2011

Gargantuan synthetic tree-like structures line Singapore’s manmade marina and serve as vertical gardens of exotic plant life. Connected by elevated walkways, the 25 to 40 metre-high Supertrees are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological functions of real trees, including solar cells that harness energy from sunlight and irrigation systems for collecting rainwater.
Gargantuan synthetic tree-like structures line Singapore’s manmade marina and serve as vertical gardens of exotic plant life. Connected by elevated walkways, the 25 to 40 metre-high Supertrees are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological functions of real trees, including solar cells that harness energy from sunlight and irrigation systems for collecting rainwater.
Pedestrians stroll through the gates of ‘Shangri-la Woods’ in Shenzhen Happy Valley theme park, which is notorious for accidents both on and around its 213-acres of attractions.
Pedestrians stroll through the gates of ‘Shangri-la Woods’ in Shenzhen Happy Valley theme park, which is notorious for accidents both on and around its 213-acres of attractions.
During a monsoon, a mythical Merlion head peaks over construction on Sentosa Island. Half lion and half fish, the Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore because its form resembles the shape of the country. This 37-metre structure has a gift shop in its head and a viewing deck at its mouth.
During a monsoon, a mythical Merlion head peaks over construction on Sentosa Island. Half lion and half fish, the Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore because its form resembles the shape of the country. This 37-metre structure has a gift shop in its head and a viewing deck at its mouth.
Built on reclaimed riverbed, a deflated life-size snow globe decorates the climate controlled courtyard of the worlds tallest Ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer.
Built on reclaimed riverbed, a deflated life-size snow globe decorates the climate controlled courtyard of the worlds tallest Ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer.
A neoclassical grand boulevard runs through Astana’s central business district. The decorative geometric patterns derive from traditional Kazakh motifs.
A neoclassical grand boulevard runs through Astana’s central business district. The decorative geometric patterns derive from traditional Kazakh motifs.
Paddleboats travel alongside the recently constructed banks of the Ishim River, whose water level is artificially maintained for recreational use in the landlocked country of Kazakhstan.
Paddleboats travel alongside the recently constructed banks of the Ishim River, whose water level is artificially maintained for recreational use in the landlocked country of Kazakhstan.
Standardized villas packed side-by-side form the two thousand-member socialist collective of Huaxi Village in rural Eastern China.
Standardized villas packed side-by-side form the two thousand-member socialist collective of Huaxi Village in rural Eastern China.
International cruise ships assemble in the berths of Keppel Harbour’s Cruise Centre.
International cruise ships assemble in the berths of Keppel Harbour’s Cruise Centre.
Currently the world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Tower skyscrapers also boast the world’s highest two-story bridge. architect: Cesar Pelli
Currently the world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Tower skyscrapers also boast the world’s highest two-story bridge. architect: Cesar Pelli
A manicured tree sits atop a hill in the planned city of Putrajaya. The city, Malaysia’s administrative capital, was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.
A manicured tree sits atop a hill in the planned city of Putrajaya. The city, Malaysia’s administrative capital, was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.
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