Taking the physical properties of the celluloid film strip and applying them to Hong Kong’s dense built up environment, experimental short Serial Parallels from Max Hattler (seen often on DN) provides a transfixing portrait of one of the most vertical cities in the world. As Serial Parallels is still making its way across the festival circuit (having already nabbed Best Editing at the San Gio Verona Video Festival) and is the centrepiece of Hattler’s solo exhibition Receptive Rhythms at Hong Kong’s Goethe-Gallery which opens today, we can unfortunately only share the trailer. However, Hattler was kind enough to provide us with some insight into his captivating architectural animation.

Ever since moving from flat and expansive London to the extremely condensed vertical cityscape of Hong Kong I was thinking about how I could translate my new habitat into an appropriate moving image form. Serial Parallels tackles Hong Kong’s urban environment through the lens of film animation, by considering the city’s high-rise buildings as series of film strips, with each floor or window corresponding to a film frame.

Serial Parallels took 8 months to complete. We shot high-resolution photographs of the building facades all around Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories (using Hasselblad H4D-40, Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5DS R cameras), which were digitally adjusted for perspective distortion, and then zoomed into for the animation sequencing (in Adobe After Effects).

I was thinking about how I could translate my new habitat into an appropriate moving image form.

The narrative progression of Serial Parallels was very much developed in the edit. The challenge was to keep it interesting, while at the same time conveying a sense of the extremely repetitive nature of Hong Kong’s urban environment. Especially the public housing estates all follow a small and precise palette of architectural typologies. We shot way more photos and animated many more sequences than what was used in the end. The final version of Serial Parallels, while 9 minutes long, only features a total of 240 photographs!

Serial Parallels source images

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