Did You See This?

Microscopic City of Light

An animator imagines Paris as a living organism.

The video above imagines Paris as a single living organism viewed through an electron microscope. It’s a trailer for a longer work called Ghost Cell. When you think of Paris’ people, its identity, and its rich history of joy and sorrow, maybe it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine it as a living thing. The startling and lovely animation by Antoine Delacharlery is especially poignant in light of the terrorist attacks there last month.

We’re used to seeing actual cells and microorganisms magnified this way, of course, moving and interacting weirdly with other materials and tiny creatures. In the video, Parisian structures look like they’re spun from fibers by life forms and vehicles that zip around and across them. Their motion looks as foreign as the movement of bacteria under a microscope. The shapes, though, are familiar: clumps, stalks, and cocoons.

If you consider human beings a microbiome—an intricate community of microorganisms—it may not be such a stretch to see a city that way, too. Every one of us is a complicated, interconnected colony of tiny things living, building, and reproducing. Why not a city like Paris?