From turtles in the sky to mechanical buildings, a digital artist imagines cyberpunk Petersburg on Instagram
Vadim Solovyov is a digital artist from St. Petersburg, and his aesthetic obsession is pseudorealism. On Instagram, Solovyov creates CGI images and videos depicting a cyberpunk version of his hometown. Each piece combines the familiar with the alien: pre-fabricated apartment buildings walk around the city on mechanical legs, futuristic flying trains extend over skyscrapers, and robot snowplows grapple with malfunctioning parts.
In late February, a video by Solovyov that depicted a drone taking out the trash by emerging from a prefab building went viral, drawing media attention to his work.
In an interview with the Russian-language outlet TJournal, the artist said he works on his images and clips during his free time outside his day job.
Solovyov also writes his own Instagram posts to flesh out the world of each photo or video. For example, the following clip of a flying patrol station came out shortly before New Year’s with this eerily cheery caption:
“It’s extremely naïve to count on really feeling the New Year’s spirit if you live in Petersburg, of course. Today is December 24th, and I’m still carrying an umbrella around in my backpack. Rain, green lawns — it’s not really the winter wonderland you would expect at New Year’s. But it was so great that they came up with this holiday décor for the patrol stations! There’s a Soviet cartoon character painted on every robot! And it just immediately makes your heart a feel little happier somehow. It’s like the scent of clementines is in the air all of a sudden, as though that winter wonderland really is somewhere nearby! ✳️☃️”
Another video shows a snow-clearing robot trying fruitlessly to do its job using a small fire after suffering a malfunctioned arm. Solovyov told TJournal that the clip is a reference to the winter of 2018 – 2019, when St. Petersburg city officials failed to clear snow from the streets properly, and the regional governor proposed fixing the problem by handing out shovels to local bureaucrats.
It’s not just robots who inhabit the artist’s cyberpunk city. On Solovyov’s Instagram, you can also find giant creatures like flying turtles, urban octopi, and enormous reptiles being exploited to sell photographs to tourists for 500 rubles each.