Artist Research: Kimsooja: A Needle Woman

The artist Kimsooja was brought to my attention by one of my tutors. In particular, it was suggested that I looked at “A needle woman”,  a video installation of the artist standing in the middle of busy streets in different parts of the world as people pass her by and walk in the direction of the camera. She is a feminist artist and is approaching women’s labour of sewing within this work but I believe it definitely applies to the concept of my city project even if being alone or singled out amongst others in the city was not the artists original intention.

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This work made me think about the hidden loneliness of city life and the notion of being surrounded by others in the city but alone. She is standing in the middle of many people, but no one is interacting with her, she is being overlooked and people are just passing her by. She is an insignificant figure to them and at the same time all the people around her may as well not be there at all. The feeling of loneliness if highly evident in this work and I believe her video showing herself surrounded by others who are not interacting with her or even acknowledging her existence is not dissimilar to my project imagery of a coloured figure surrounded by white silhouettes.

This piece is highly inspirational and influential to my work, it confirms to me that you can be surrounded by others in the city but at the same time singled out and alone. It sort of highlights the ideas I have been working with and in supporting them adds to my works success.

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Hidden Loneliness in Cities – Colour Exploration – Artists That Have Explored Urban Loneliness Through Brighter Colours

After producing quite a successful and substantial body of work focusing on the use of monochrome colouring and sepia tones, I have decided to investigate whether these colours are affecting the loneliness of my work. After producing my green shaped underpainting, I started thinking about the fact that the figures didn’t appear to look as lonely as in my darker works and so I would like to clarify this by briefly investigating and producing some brighter works and analysing their success in showing the hidden loneliness of city life.

To start, I thought it would be beneficial to investigate whether existing artists have attempted to show loneliness in cities through bright colours. I have come across a few, but I do not feel that the figures within them feel as lonely, because darker colours create a negative atmosphere and bright colours a positive one, so the figure seems to look like they are just happily walking through a colourful city even though they are alone, rather than feeling down and depressed by the fact that they are.

Leonid Afremov – “Alone in the City”

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I am really drawn to the technique adopted by Leonid Afremov, however, in terms of portraying loneliness, I just feel that the figure looks as if they are walking back from somewhere by themselves. In my work, I am investigating portraying loneliness in the city where there is others around you. It is horrible to think that there are so many people but you interact with no one which heightens how lonely you feel in my opinion. This is a beautiful painting but I am not sure it portrays the same message as my work or is successful in showing loneliness in the city, partly because of the bright more positive colours and partly because there are no other people for the figure to feel lonely around or feel like they don’t exist to.

Miki De Goodeboom – “Lonely in the Big City”

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I think the abstract nature of Miki De Goodeboom’s piece is highly successful, even though there is no city like imagery behind the figure, because of the square and geometric shapes our brain seems to associate them with one. Here, I do feel that the figure looks lonely, I think it is because of the chaotic looking city and the figure seems to look overwhelmed being alone within this chaos. Also, the colours here are not as bright as in Afremov’s work.

Casoni Ibolya – “The Rainbow City after Rain Alone”

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I like the softness of the work here, Even though the colours are not as vibrant as the other two artists I have looked at, the artist has still used brighter colouring to portray inner city loneliness. Again, here I feel that the figure does look lonely. I think this is to do with the fact that the world around them is colourful and they are painted in blacks and greys. The work makes me feel as if the figure feels alone and as if they don’t belong in this environment.

After exploring how existing artists have portrayed loneliness in cities through the use of brighter colours, I am going to investigate it myself, I will produce some coloured works and experiment with the idea of there being lots of people around you but no interaction, just as I have in my darker works. I will then analyse the success of this and decided whether it is more affective to paint Urban Loneliness in bright or darker colours and continue to work with whatever the verdict is.


Further Experimentation with Tracing Paper

Previously, I have drawn on top of tracing paper to portray the fact that everyone else around a person in the city might as well not exist and to show the ghostly bodies of the city that move around you with zero interaction or conversation. I have now experimented with cutting a single figure out of the tracing paper and placing it over my photographs which I feel is more successful in its portraying my concept but not as visually appealing as drawing on top is.

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As with my more recent photo manipulations, I started experimenting with ways of showing that vice versa, you may as well not exist to all the others around you and that not being noticed or acknowledged in the city can make you feel extremely lonely within it. The manipulation below is highly unsuccessful in my opinion, It hasn’t really worked in showing that you may as well not exist and looks unprofessional as the tracing paper shows the glue underneath it.

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Due to this being unsuccessful, I experimented with cutting out all the people in an image apart from one. That one person is definitely unnoticed in the image and I feel this method of manipulating the tracing paper accurately shows that to all the other people in the city you might as well not be there. I am glad to see successes coming out of my exploration and continuous working.

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I am glad my tutor suggested I continue experimenting with these materials as I believe I have created some successful outcomes here. I have also learnt what doesn’t work and progresses within my project.


More Photo Manipulation Experiments: Loneliness in the City

As my tutor suggested, I have been conducting further experimentation into portraying the hidden loneliness of the city through photo manipulation.  He suggested I considered the fact that I didn’t have to cut out the whole of the figures from my photos and that I could make statements by just cutting out certain parts. Below, I have experimented with cutting or blocking out the face of all the bodies bar one to portray the fact that in the city, all the people around you may as well just be bodies with no identity just moving around you. As you do not interact with them, they may as well have blank faces. I think this definitely shows one person to be singled out and portrays the feeling of being alone, but I do not think this manipulation is as successful as cutting out the whole figure and for me does not make as bigger impact. The white cut out faces are clear, but I feel the image below where I have blacked out the faces is highly unsuccessful and the act of manipulation is unclear.

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Throughout my exploration of photo manipulation, I have focused on the fact that all the people around you in the city may as well not exist, but until now I haven’t portrayed the fact that you may as well not exist to them either. Below are some images I have worked with in portraying this idea. Feeling unnoticed and unappreciated by others is a massive contributor to feeling isolated or alone.

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Here, I have scribbled out one figure. I think this is successful in making a subtle statement about people feeling lonely and going unnoticed in the city, It is not immediately obvious until you really look at the picture and draws you in to think about the reason behind blacking out a person. Below, I picked someone who goes unnoticed and is ignored by many on a daily basis, a big issue salesman and scribbled out their face to heighten the fact that their identity is unappreciated.

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In my opinion, these below are my two most successful manipulations in showing the fact that you may as well not exist to others in the city, and how lonely it can feel being unnoticed. The figure is obviously singled out and prominently taken out of the picture portraying the fact that they may as well not be in it in the first place. Being different can evoke feelings of loneliness and here a white silhouette differentiates the figure from the others.

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Experimenting further with photo manipulation has definitely given me new angles to explore feelings of loneliness in the city and I have explored different ways of portraying these angles. As my tutor suggested, I am now going to do some more experimentation with tracing paper and combining it with my photographs.


Artist Inspiration – Nesta

The work of Nesta is highly relevant to my project. She portrays the loneliness of living in a city within her work and as I have done in my work portrays the figure as a white silhouette. However, she focuses on the fact that she may as well be invisible in the city and how she feels alone and I have looked at this subject from a different perspective.

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“Alone in the City is a digital collage series based on my experiences living alone in London, I hoped to capture the day-to-day happenings of living in a big city by yourself.” -NESTA

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I am focusing on everyone else around you in the city and the fact that they may as well not exist because of the loneliness and the zero conversation that occurs. I had already thought about making the figures silhouettes and white in colour to create a ghostly image, but her work confirms to me that it makes for a successful outcome.


Inspiration: FILM: Schindler’s List (1993)

My tutor saw my photo edits of one person in colour surrounded by monochrome figures in my Pecha Kucha Presentation and suggested that I watched the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List (1993), This weekend I decided I would, it is a fabulous film and I would definitely recommend it, but what particularly inspired me within it was the scenes with the little girl in the red coat. The coat she wears is the only thing in colour in the scene, and the girl is surrounded by black and white figures.

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The little girl looks very lonely in the world and is just wandering around in the chaos. This has inspired me to work with painting crowds of people in the city but with only one person in colour, to show that they are singled out and are not part of the lives of all the other people. The other people might as well not be there as there is no interaction and you feel lonely because you are overlooked by all of them. The city can be a very lonely place and Schindler’s list has encouraged me to consider colour a great deal more when painting this.


Loneliness in the City: Observational Charcoal Drawings

Here are a few drawings I have produced in relation to the topic of loneliness in the city. I have been thinking a lot about different ways to portray the loneliness of day-to-day life and routine in the city and realised that simply drawing people wandering the streets shows it accurately. It is clearly seen within my sketches that there are lots of people around but none of them are conversing or interacting with each other. All of the people within my sketches may as well be by themselves. They may not realise it but apart from there being no queue in shops and not getting stuck behind people walking slowly and holding them up, their time spent in the city would be no different if they were completely by themselves.

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I was conscious that the media used and colour palette I chose here would either add to or detract from the loneliness of the people within the images. I have used Charcoal and white acrylic paint on brown parcel paper to create these drawings. The dull and darker colours provoke the feeling of being miserable or alone. It fascinates me here, that I have done nothing more than draw what I have observed and the product captures the loneliness of city life perfectly. It just goes to show how relevant my project ideas  are to today’s cities. I am very happy that I have managed to capture this isolation and look forward to moving forward and experimenting further.