63 DIGITAL SKETCHES ON THE THEME OF URBAN LANDSCAPE
This is a return to the theme of urban landscape. I first visited the theme in 2000 as CITYICITY, revisited it in 2012 as CITYICITY-2 where figures were added to the foreground. With OBLIQUE HOUSING I wanted to step back, to take a more distant view and exploit aspects of aerial angles – implicitly a photographic genre. Close-ups on a very long lens tend to compact perspective, to render buildings in particular in oblique projections. This ‘distortion’ is readily accepted in the genre although in paintings or older graphics tends to be regarded as primitive. This shift in conventions interested me and eventually was flagged in the series title. Although ‘housing’ supposes residential zones, which are occasionally dealt with, I also allow the term to cover any accommodating structure or compartmentalisation. That is basically how I viewed urban landscapes from a distance. ‘Oblique’ has connotations beyond geometry as well, of an indirect or veiled allusion and this also fits with my theme. The series title also echoes Dickens’ Bleak House, more mischievously, as the persistence of tradition in the contesting of wills.
More notes at the bottom of the page.
OB-01-A (6 VARIATIONS)
OB-02-C (5 VARIATIONS)
OB-05-A (6 VARIATIONS)
OB-18-A (4 VARIATIONS)
OB-19-A (4 VARIATIONS)
OB-22-A (5 VARIATIONS)
OB-23-A (4 VARIATIONS)
I am by no means the first artist to take inspiration from such aerial views of course. But I think my interests there are distinctive. A good part of my inspiration came from watching televised coverage of road cycling, particularly the Tour de France, where striking aerial close-ups and angles scrutinise the race. It is in large part a celebration of the latest technology in cameras, the fluency, sophistication and ingenuity – indeed invasiveness – available in public spectacle. And it is one in which a rolling landscape is prominent. This intensely monitored aspect parallels surveillance coverage by CCTV, drone and satellite. Oblique projections to picture plane thus come to signal a remote but acute observation. It is an age where views from above assume an ominous tone because of the increasing use of surveillance and sweeping grounds for suspicion and prosecution. This is a bleak yet oblique undercurrent to my series and links my interest in urban landscape to social concerns pursed in other series. Initially I toyed with including graphic circles and arrows indicating targeted aspects to a scene, but ultimately these seemed a bit heavy-handed.
Unlike photographers such as Andreas Gursky, I did not have the luxury of stunning high resolution images to work from. All my sources were drawn from the web, were fairly standard sizes. Instead I have concentrated on a variety of stylisations, permitting or resisting a coherent oblique projection, confirming or refuting orthodox shape, volume, colour and scale. Focus is relative. The work thus carries forward commitments to irrealism discussed in earlier posts. See especially catalogue statement for CITYICITY at Place Gallery 2012.