Warped Worlds: 30 Surreal Digitally Manipulated Landscapes

The plot of the movie ‘Inception’ is almost an afterthought compared to the impact that its distorted, dreamlike manipulations of architecture and landscapes has had on a generation of artists and designers. Inspired by the concept of warping a scene in ways that completely defy the laws of physics yet still remain photo-realistic, the following artists have created new worlds that are strange and yet also familiar.

Erik Johansson

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Nothing is quite as it seems in the images produced by Swedish-born, Berlin-based photo artist Erik Johansson. Grassy land cascades over the edge of the world like a waterfall, the surface of the earth is unzipped, cars appear to hover upside-down on the road. It’s difficult to tell reality from illusion, and that’s the point; the scenes he creates are as playful as they are impossible. Setting up and taking the photos takes about as long as manipulating them in Photoshop, and a single image can consist of over 100 layers.

Cubic Landscape by Petey Ulatan

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Flattened views of landscapes are flipped and folded to create cubes, their edges bent at 90 degree angles, eliminating the very gradual and subtle curves that make up the surface of the Earth. Artist Petey Ulatan takes inspiration from the films ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar’ to reshape the world, almost as if a giant hand were making it into origami.

Turkey Turned Upside-Down by Aydin Büyüktas

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Many of the same manipulations are happening in the work of Aydin Büyüktas, except focused on the Turkish city of Istanbul, with all of its landmarks and neighborhoods warped in ways that defy the laws of physics. The artist uses drone photography and 3D software to create these composite images. “We live in places that most of the times don’t draw our attention, places that transform our memories, places that the artist gives another dimension; where the perceptions that generally crosses our minds will be demolished and new ones will arise. These works aims to leave the viewer alone with a surprising visuality ironic as well, multidimensional romantic point of view.”

‘Inception Park’ in Buenos Aires by Black Sheep Films

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What if you could ride a trackless rollercoaster around the city, almost as if you’re on the back of some kind of mystical flying creature? Black Sheep Films gives us an idea of what this would feel like with ‘Inception Park,’ a strange little video set in Buenos Aires. It’s fun to watch the snake of rollercoaster cars meander through the space, interacting with architecture.

Twisted Architecture by Nicholas Kennedy Sitton

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“These photos are a result of how intriguing the concept of distortion translates to architecture,” says artist Nicholas Kennedy Sitton of his ‘Twisted Architecture’ series. “It creates a sense of falling into itself, like capturing a moment of demolition. I can destroy titanous steel structures with the click of a mouse and create new twisted versions of reality. I was also inspired by San Francisco. I had just moved there and being in a new city was disorienting and exciting and I wanted to capture how my whole world had changed.”