Liam Wong’s images feel entirely otherworldly and strange, drawing on the spirit and aesthetic of cyberpunk in his depictions of Japanese streets.
They’re also rather beautiful, presenting nocturnal Tokyo as it’s never been seen before. Now, Wong’s images have been gathered into a book called TO:KY:OO, designed by Darren Wall.
Born and educated in Edinburgh and Dundee respectively, aged 25, Wong became the youngest art director at Ubisoft (the video game company behind hits like Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance), moving to Montreal to work for the studio.
Now based in Japan and working as a freelance director, graphic designer, game developer and photographer; Wong first got into DSLR photography in 2015, when he treated himself to a Canon 5D III. It was with that camera that he shot the images in TO:KY:OO, which he describes as being inspired by sci-fi, neon-noir, cyberpunk and Japanese animation; and with “Blade Runner vibes”. He also looked to the work of Syd Mead—the designer for films including Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron—and Hideo Kojima, the video game designer whose cinematic style can be seen on games including 1988’s Snatcher and Policenauts (1994) as well as the Metal Gear Solid series.
In what must feel like a pretty big boost to Wong, Kojima praised his images as “not just photos…. In his ‘photos’, you can feel what cannot be normally seen, layered structures of evolutions and decadence of the cities…. A single ‘photo’ holds a balanced harmony of beauty and the disordered.”
Wong’s work has a hazy, eerie feel to it. Shades of purples and greens dominate, and while it feels painfully obvious to draw parallels between the stye of the photographs and that of video games, the other side of Wong’s practise looms large in the painterly style and sense of mystery and expectation.
“Photography has taken me out of my comfort zone, led me around the world, connected me with people, opportunities and helped unlock creativity within me that I never knew existed,” says Wong.
TO:KY:OO is currently being crowdfunded on Volume, and reached 100% of its target in just 48 hours