Friday, 26 September 2014

Invisible Cities Set 5 to 8

 With these four sets I feel like I am starting to get an idea of which cities I might be interested in, although given how I have only done eight thumbnails so far out of a possible 20+ it may still be early doors as to which city I will short-list for my three artworks. With these images I decided to experiment with silhouettes, viewing angles and perhaps looking more closely at interiors.
Argia was somewhat challenging to visualise, as Calvino's descriptions indicated the city was potentially entirely filled in with dirt. Sky, streets and houses were stuffed to bursting with clay and rock so I wondered how to express it. I did consider elaborating perhaps the citizens having a relationship with the roots or the worms, and like Armilla I didn't restrict myself to humans being human-sized; roots of colossal proportions could inhabit caves and tunnels that make up the city. Perhaps the people have an innate ability to move the earth somehow?
     One mental image that surfaced when imagining this place came from the 2005 Steven Baxter novel Transcendant. In one chapter the protagonist visits a subterranian hive of near-humans that live and communicate llike members of an ant colony, complete with a queen, drone castes and a lack of individual independant thought among members. Those other than the queen that interacted with outside influences were rather harshly euthenised by the collective as their minds would struggle to bear the magnitude of the world outside their colony.
    Despina was one of the fist cities I exaimed when I read Calvino's extracts and was the one which at first stuck in my head the most. Perhaps it was the contrast of the fleet-like skyscrapers from the desert and the dual camel humps from the oceon. I figured this was a description of the skyline so I tested that idea as well as considering other portside aspects such as tavern interiors  Its probably the most intriguing and out of the earlier ones it is not bearing a potentially-bleak-looking population (something I felt reading about the lives of the people in Argia and Anastasia), and it seemed like a generally thriving and largely enjoyable place to live for the common man.
  One of the other investigations I tried was colour contrast. With Anastasia there was emphasis on coloured stones such as agate, onyx, chalcedony and chrysoprase and a possible culture revolving around cutting and polishing these stones. So what I tried to imagine is that while the city is colourful and beautiful, perhaps walls studded, it hides an ethic where the only pleasure comes from work. So there is perhaps a colourful and drab side of the city that exists side by side with each other - perhaps colourful stones at street level and more drab colours at higher levels where the eyes of the city's residents are less likely to look. Or perhaps the other way around, coloured stones inlaid in upper-floor walls where visitors are more likely to look on their travels though the city while residents keep their gaze to the more drab ground and first floors of buildings.

One trhing I have gotten the impression of regarding these cities - the people. In several of them the people sound like listless entities; daily routines, uncomfortable living conditions, being content with a bleak metropolis. It was as if Maro Polo wanted his listener to be both mystified and wary of these cities inhabited by strange shades of human beings. I might be looking too much into this though


  1. Hey Mark, I'm enjoying your writing - love the way you're thinking 'into' these cities, and expressing your ideas so engagingly :)

  2. Great stuff Mark - 95 and 103 stand strongest to me from this bunch.
    How about compiling some influence maps to further bolster your ideas? Keep them loose too... textures, colours, interesting structural forms etc..

    1. I'll look into that. It might help me generate ideas.

  3. Hey Mark,

    Okay I figured I would pick one from each set as not to be in favour of a particular idea but in favour of the best from you individual ideas. At the end of the day it comes down to what you feel is right here but let me explore these a little...

    Okay from the Diomira set I liked 74 the statue looks something to be feared or in awe of (especially due to the upward angle). You should consider taking these sketches into Photoshop so you can do more harsh silhouettes, pencil is all well and good but Photoshop will allow you to forge chunks of white in your black shapes.

    Of your Argia number 88 it almost looks like a disjointed tree which has things growing under it which is the exact opposite of how plants grow (not in shade but in light). Still it stood out to me.

    I concur with Jackie on Despina having read your extract it being a "Nice" place to live 103 pretty much says it you need the city to feel "epic" and in 103 it does kind of look like its shining almost... the angle is also pretty nice.

    For Anastasia your last one 128 I love the angle I also love the way the buildings almost drape behind each other. I also read your theory on the colour I kind of thought that the city at night would have no colour (so it is in-fact the sun which brings colour to the objects/structures in town. Without light there is no colour.... You could then make god rays of colour etc which would look amazing.... Its just an idea but its something different.

    Hope this helps Mark,

    1. Yeah for Diomora It might be interesting to have high-contrast statues and low-contrast buildings, bringing your eye to these towering golden beings that loom high over the city. I'll ocnsider that "photoshop shadows contrast" idea.

      When I originally drew 88 I thought about a gigantic tree root. Although an underground tree, while not veryrealistic, does sound quite fantastical in nature.

      For ANastasia a nighttime scene where there was no colour is an interesting thought, perhaps it could be a way to encourage the people of the city to not find other forms of pleasure after work hours as their hometown is very dull and featureless at night, encouraging people to stay i ntheir homes due to a lack of interest.