Imagine a world where the human population vanished. We’ve seen movies and read stories with different media adaptations about living in a futurist apocalyptic world. “The Last of Us” is a popular video game with an apocalyptic theme.

In fact, that game provided some of the inspiration for a collection of uniquely provocative images challenging viewers to contemplate a planet without humans. “If we don’t take care of ourselves, it will take us” was the premise of a creative project undertaken several years ago by Costa Rican photographer and digital artist Sebastian Alba. 

Alba’s intention was to create scenes with a hard-hitting message about the need to protect the planet and natural resources for the very sake of human survival.
“We are not important to the planet, the planet is important to us,” he affirmed in an interview with YouTube host Cesar Lopez.

Using a technique known as matte painting, or photocomposition, Sebastian depicts the decomposition of buildings and lands as if humans were no longer here. After grabbing an object or section from an unrelated image — perhaps mold on a wall or a tree vine — he transfers it onto the original photo. Ultimately, the finished image expresses “the collaboration between humans and earth needing each other.”

In fact, Alba’s starting point for the project was close to home. He sought to capture some of Costa Rica’s most iconic sites throughout the country. 

When interviewed for a blog in November 2020, Sebastian said he was inspired by “the need to find some way through art, photography and publishing to be able to impact the conscience of the Tico, to look for an alternative to be able to cause the Tico to wake up and open our eyes to be able to take care of our only home.”

Working initially from a list of renowned Costa Rican locales, aiming to cover at least one per province, Alba gradually expanded the number of images to include places that are meaningful to Ticos. 

Believing that depictions of devastation have the greatest impact on human consciousness, he planned to expand the project throughout Central America, Latin America and the world. “My idea is to have a complete portfolio of the devastated places in each country,” he said.

Regarding the passion for challenges that extends into all of the photography and digital art services he provides for a wide range of clients, Alba says, “I love bringing people’s dreams and ideas to reality,” 

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Without humans, the world would still exist but it would not be the same. All the buildings and infrastructure that we have built over the years would eventually decay and return to nature. The planet would start to heal itself from the damage caused by pollution and deforestation. The oceans would be filled with marine life and the forests would be the habitat for many animals. Eventually, the planet might even reach a state of equilibrium where there would be no more extinction and a balance would be achieved between all life forms.

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