Photographer Yao Lu captures images of heaps of garbage covered in green protective netting and digitally manipulates them to look like a beautiful, mountainous expanse inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paintings. Yao’s New Landscapes series manages to transform said garbage dumps with a few additions of carefully placed animals, ancient architecture, mist, waterfalls, and foliage. It’s only upon close inspection that one actually notices the true nature (or lack thereof) of the landscape–a wide stretch of landfills.
The photographer’s visually deceptive series links the present state of the nation to the past, commenting on the ever-growing urbanization of China. What was once a land rich with pure nature and filled with beautiful countrysides is being transformed into overpopulated cities with towering skyscrapers and lands designated for the trash accumulated from those metropolises. Yao’s series, though echoing the beauty of the past, seeks to awaken viewers to the ecological and environmental problems of the present.