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Tokyo without Tokyo

03/04/15

Tokyo is a city--more than any city, perhaps--that is defined by its chaotic skyline of neon billboards. Blinking, glowing, showering the sidewalks in artificial light, they become its most immediately recognizable characteristic, a permanent appendage to every building.

And so what exactly does Tokyo look like when you strip it bare of its most marked characteristic? French graphic designer Nicolas Damiens created a series of black and white GIFs (straightforwardly titled “Tokyo No Ads”) flashing between the real occupied billboards and an imaginary state where the billboards are left empty, creating geometric voids of space screaming nothing.

The resulting images paint a picture of Tokyo few have seen. Spartan and pared down, it’s like a tree with no leaves. Most remarkable though, is being able to see exactly how many ads are being thrown at you while you walk past, a countless barrage of potentially alluring text.

All GIFs courtesy of the artist.