Night Project: Blurring the lines between cinema and photography

Marilyn Mugot is a French graphic designer and photographer who hails from the Paris suburbs where she began drawing at an early age. With her great passion for cinema in her youth, she has taken to photography like a director; evident in her series ‘Night Project’ where she shot in the USA and China during 2014-16 to capture light and colours reminiscent of 90’s films.

“I perceive my photographic work through a director’s eyes, however, the difference in my vision, is that the whole world is a stage. It’s an intense sensation of “limitless”. I like to recreate a fantastic universe of dreams and travels. Night landscapes exacerbates a specific contemplative feeling which has encouraged me to recreate a new, obscure and sparkling world full of secrets and mystery.”

We recently chatted to Marilyn to explore her relationship to her craft, travel and inspiration.

How has travel made an impact on your life ?

Taking stock. As I am someone who enjoys solitude, during my outing of several hours there are many thoughts that circulate in myself. It gives me the impression of a long-term meditation or I have time to think and make good decisions when I return to France. Going to a country very different from mine inspired me a lot, I come back loaded with memories and new perspectives with new ambitions.

What was the plan for Night Project trip?

Regarding my trip to China, it had been a while since I wanted to go. I had already made the decision two years ago when I came back from a second US trip. I like the urban aesthetics of the Chinese cities. I especially wanted to work with nocturnal photography while playing with articficial lights.

Did you come across anything unexpected?

Chinese culture is very different from our in the West. I discovered another way of living. The most unexpected was during my trip to mainland China where people were very curious. Given that I am a woman traveling alone, with a big camera around my neck, walking around at night in isolated streets sometimes, I attracted the curiosity of passers-by and people in general day and night. And then, Chinese people don’t see many Westerners.

What advice would you give someone looking to travel to China?

The advice that I can give is to know enough about the country, the culture, the knowledge to live in society, the weather, it remains of the good-sense. Apart from this, any trip is interesting to live. There are plenty of places to see in the world. There are no bad reasons to go out to discover the world even if, sometimes, we want to escape from our problems by thinking of settling them outside our borders.

What insights did you gain about the places, people, things you came across on your travels?

In China, I found people are generally kind, I didn’t encounter any problems on my way. They have a community-based way of thinking unlike in the West where individuality is valued. They are very supportive of each other, it can be difficult for a foreigner to adapt and to make friends in order to integrate. There is a real barrier of language. English is not spoken by all so it can create situations really comical to be understood sometimes. It’s not a country for only touristic reason, the experience lived there is beyond a simple trip of entertainment.