Transit and Transience

Transit and Transience is a series of digital images that explore the idea of humanity in motion. In some cases this is meant literally, such as crowds of people gathering, in migration, or otherwise moving from one place to another. Other images are metaphorical, evoking life transitions such as birth, death, and celebration.

Please click on the thumbnail images below for a larger view since the thumbnails are cropped to only show about half of each image.

The series is part of my ongoing exploration of human relationships and interactions through the creation of semi-abstract figures in landscapes, and builds on my recent art practice which has been focused on digitally-mediated drawing. The title Transit and Transience reflects the origins of the project as a proposal for public art in a subway. Although that proposal was not accepted, the underlying concept of the images remains. I originally envisioned the series as 32 individual images to be displayed on billboards 7 feet tall by 14 feet wide. My plan now is to create a total of between 30 and 40 finished images, and to explore print and digital options for their display.

I started working on the series in April 2007, and stopped in the summer after I had hit a bit of a wall with the series. I took a break from Transit and Transience to create the first 16 Incidentals pieces. Then I took on a full-time job at the Mendel Art Gallery in early August 2007, which left me with little time for the studio.

As I mentioned on my blog in July 2007, the series began as a proposal for artwork for 32 subway billboards in Berlin. After writing the proposal, I was so excited by the concept behind the series that I started work on the pieces immediately, knowing that the chances of being accepted were slim. Unfortunately for my ego, the jury chose other work for the project—four proposals were selected out of over 300—but I’m still excited about this series. My ego recovered quickly from the mild bruising.

These pieces were originally supposed to be 14 feet wide by 7 feet tall. It was only after an artist friend pointed out that each of these pieces was a monumental work of its own that I understood why they were so exhausting to create.

After a year-long hiatus, in the summer of 2008 I revisited the pieces I had completed, and made some changes. On some of the pieces the changes are minor, but in others they’re significant. One overall change was the addition of hair (or something hairlike) to the heads of most of the figures in all nine pieces. This was due partly to the fact that a common reaction to the pieces was “oooh, aliens!”, a reaction I hadn’t anticipated and didn’t want. The figures are intended to be otherworldly, but not in the sense of pop-culture stoner aliens. So I added hair/wigs/tendrils to the heads. I also made some of the figures more feminine by adding hips and breasts. Before this latter change all of the figures appeared to be androgynous with masculine leanings. All humour aside, the main impetus for these tweaks to the figures was the evolution of my work in my sketchbook drawings, partly influenced by Husk.

If people are interested I can post some “before” images. You can do a basic comparison of the first image by looking at the earlier version posted here.

All of the individual images are untitled for now, but I am planning to give each one a distinct title. This is in contrast to Encounters, where I simply numbered each piece. As for the title of the series, Transit and Transience originally came from the fact that the pieces were going to be on view in a subway. I’ll be exploring the theme further in future pieces.