The most spell-binding three minutes of your day will be spent viewing the Vimeo Staff Pick, ‘This is Shanghai‘. Rob Whitworth, the creative mind behind this film showcasing the insane traffic in Ho Chi Minh, has created an incredible, time-lapse portrait of the city of Shanghai with his partner JT Singh.
This is the kind of work that makes you both admire the subject (in this case the city itself) and the artist capturing the subject. Viewed first as a portrait, Shanghai looks magical and mesmerizing in these images, from the robust markets to the towering skyscrapers. One is left wondering if city portraiture can really be done in any other medium and, perhaps, through anyone else’s lens. But, as with any great portrait, it is also a work of art in its own right: perfectly executed shots, deft camera movements spanning from a bird’s eye view of night traffic to the microcosm of a single moving taxi, superb editing with a well-timed soundtrack, and complete with a face-twisting “Wait! Did he really just capture a city-wide power outage?” moment. (Perhaps that was done in post. But perhaps it wasn’t.)
To balance the presence of both subject and artist is, of course, the great challenge of portraiture. And in this regard, as is true with some of his other videos, Whitworth and Singh have distinguished themselves. The spate of well-deserved nominations and awards show that I’m not the only one who holds this opinion.