Simon McCheung, a self-taught conceptual photographer based in the United Kingdom, intermingles his fondness for storytelling with the use of raw graphics and surrealist notions of art depiction. Highly motivated through films, McCheung incorporates an essence of our subconscious and invigorates the inner child through the suspension of our old beliefs and morally centralized systems harbored by human beings in challenging any radical changes, in this case, climate change.

Pioneering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Climate Change, McCheung has dabbled in fine art, gaming, and advertising, with creditable mentions from Sony (PlayStation, User Design), Microsoft, and Warner Bros. under his belt. McCheung emphasizes the manner of utilizing cinematic visuals in user interaction, which is impactful as well as retaining the immersive effect for the users. Culminating his experience at Sony, he says, “I have the ability to exercise my animation knowledge into these visual elements to convey emotion and pacing, which I don’t normally have the ability to explore deeply in still photography.”

Awoken, is part of the Interstellar series by Simon McCheung. Image courtesy of Simon McCheung.

On his trip to Iceland, McCheung created a series aimed at making people aware of the forlorn climate crisis, pressing on opening our eyes to how life would be if the land beneath our feet no longer existed. McCheung interacted with the local Icelanders and saw the firsthand effects of climate change due to the receding ice in the glaciers at an alarming rate. Thereafter, he acknowledged this dreadful effect everywhere he visited.

McCheung depicts an enduring pledge towards climate change and action by placing himself as an ‘adventurous astronaut’ in one of the 10 pieces of the “Interstellar” series, “Awoken”. In his mind’s eye, McCheung envisions an astronaut strutting through an alien planet and seeing the landscape through a glass helmet. As he embarks on his ongoing exploration of the new world, the glass helmet crumbles, leading him back to the grotesque reality of planet Earth. The glass helmet signifies the obliviousness of human beings, and the crumbling of the glass helmet symbolizes the aftermath of climate change.

Shattered Memoirs, Interstellar series by Simon McCheung. Image courtesy of Simon McCheung.

In an interview with MyModernMet, McCheung says, “The world ignores the urgent and current events that will affect our future on Earth. We prefer to live comfortably and bury our heads in social media.”

The essence of McCheung’s work lies in his ability to transform the visual narrative of the audience into his imaginative surrealist realm. Explaining his art process of game designing, McCheung reiterates his narrative in laying the foundation of his art pieces and demonstrates his designs on paper first and then plays with different set angles and variations of the camera.

Time and time again, McCheung explores the art of self-portraiture with heavy influence from Asian family portraits, and popular culture such as Pokemon and The Jungle Book,  showcasing his love for animals.

Drawing inspiration from childhood daydreams, emotional memories, and adornment for the Renaissance, McCheung’s art process is more inward and navigated through the creative objects and the surroundings. 

Comfort from the Abyss by Simon McCheung. Image courtesy of Simon McCheung.

Other than championing climate change, McCheung also puts deliberate efforts into acknowledging the effects of autism. Having a personal experience as his sister was diagnosed with autism, McCheung idealized an image depicting a self-portrait with an octopus covering his head to convey the human sensation and experience of an autistic person. In order to portray that, McCheung put emphasis on the audience’s perspective and used an octopus as a prop to create a visual image that would have effects similar to a cold and creepy feeling to the bare skin.

All in all, McCheung believes that the purpose of his photography and creative process is so we reap the benefits of nature's stage. With original speculative imagery and articulative art, Simon McCheung is one of the leading photographers and visual artists who thrives on supporting a cause such as climate change or autism and creating for the people.

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