DUBAI // The French photographer Cedric Delsaux knew that Dubai, with its construction sites, desert expanses and gleaming glass towers, would provide the perfect backdrop for a series of photographs incorporating characters and elements from the Star Wars films.
In the series, dubbed The Dark Lens - The Dubai Invasion, he creates a juxtaposition by placing the science fiction films' iconic characters in the emirate's settings.
For Delsaux, Dubai's futuristic feel fits in seamlessly with the Star Wars universe. Among the photos, the Millennium Falcon hovers near the top of the Burj Khalifa. A storm trooper circles the Dubai International Financial Centre. Drones lounge against a car in a run-down dirt allotment. A huge armoured AT-AT Walker looms in the dusty fog near an empty motorway.
"Dubai - colossal, powerful, yet fragile - cannot leave anyone indifferent," Delsaux wrote in an e-mail. "Although what, in my opinion, makes Dubai unique, and the reason why I devoted most of my Dark Lens series to this city, is due to its singular status. Dubai is a city on the verge of reality, sitting on the fringe of reality and imagination."
It is the city's dream-like quality that made it easy for Delsaux to create his fantastical art. "The city is borne out of a dream. Dubai is a fantasised reality," he said.
The photos from the Dubai series will go on display tomorrow in Paris as part of the Paris Photo 2010 international photography fair, showcased by The Empty Quarter Fine Art Photography Gallery in Dubai.
"The work is very intelligent and also very fun," said Elie Domit, the creative director of The Empty Quarter, the gallery that premiered Delsaux's Dubai work last year. "It's quite dramatic if you ask me."
Delsaux said the response to the photos had been varied, but he had at least one devoted fan - the Star Wars creator George Lucas. The legendary filmmaker even wrote the introduction to a book featuring all of Delsaux's Dark Lens images, due to be released in France in early 2011.
"This is a recognition that I could only have dreamt of," Delsaux said. "I am very proud and humbled by his kind words."
The photographer, who lives in Paris and works primarily photographing advertising campaigns with the likes of Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot, said incorporating Star Wars characters into his work just made sense.
"Star Wars is for me the greatest artistic cinematographic creation," he said. "The sets, characters, costumes - it's an inexhaustible universe. Simply exceptional."
Delsaux used models and action figures to insert the characters and spacecraft into landscapes he already shot. The series was inspired by his own conviction that reality is dependent on individual perceptions, playing on the themes of imagination, dreams, reality and objectivity.
"Anybody who lives in Dubai knows this daily life is sort of like a science fiction film," Mr Domit said.
The Dubai Invasion series is the third and final part of The Dark Lens project, which started in the French cities of Paris and Lille. Rooted in Delsaux's love of contemporary landscape photography, the trilogy began with photos of ordinary places including warehouses, harbours, construction sites and houses.
"I continued this project in the suburbs of Paris but realised there was something missing, since the images no longer seemed extraordinary," said Delsaux, who shot most of the Dubai images last year. "It was at this point that I decided to introduce science fiction characters."
Mr Domit and Delsaux said the third instalment of the project was not about Star Wars in particular.
"Dubai is a very futuristic kind of environment, and Cedric did not choose Star Wars because we're fans," said Mr Domit. "It is because it is in the psyche of popular culture and is easily recognised."
The Paris Photo 2010 fair runs from tomorrow until Sunday.