The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Shanghai: Urban Odyssey

German-born Jakob Montrasio currently lives in Shanghai, working as a photographer and cinematographer. The Skyscraper Museum discovered his photographs of Shanghai skyscrapers on Flickr and contacted Montrasio, who then volunteered to reshoot the towers with high-resolution equipment. All of the eleven-foot photo murals in the exhibition are his work.

Also for the Museum, in 2009, he created this 20-minute video odyssey of Shanghai's streets and highways. The film was shot from a bus deck and the sidecar of a Changjiang Motor Bike. The extraordinary floating quality of the film was achieved with an arm extension and stabilizer through a car's sunroof as he documented the street life and changing architecture of Shanghai's vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.

As a cinematographer, I am confronted daily with the problems inherent in the capture of moving images, filled with sound and people. Timing and lighting are both important. Shanghai is a hectic city, full of life and movement. The city's chaos can end up quite frustrating and even boring at times, so I find it relaxing to photograph architecture. Buildings don't show up late or require make-up and artificial lighting. Photographing buildings, one of the oldest forms of art, is particularly satisfying when I find an angle and a style of coloring that pays the architecture the respect it deserves.

At that point, I usually subject my photos to an intense editing process, enhancing the visual aspects almost to the point of overkill and creating a new and unique work in the process. I find the raw photos can be greatly developed in this manner and usually spend hours editing my best shots on the computer. Shooting the skyscrapers of Shanghai for The Skyscraper Museum was a technical challenge. Dozens of close-up shots were stitched together to create the eleven-foot tall images. Examining them at this scale has elevated my admiration for architecture, as it is difficult to create something of that size that still looks beautiful.

-Jakob Montrasio

Video: Jakob Montrasio, "Shanghai" (2009)