eo - Information and Culture

There are Hills on the Distance


Dashing through the countryside.

Julian Opie’s There are hills in the distance © depicts a landscape with idealised aesthetics, which are simplified stylised nearly to the point of non-figurative painting. Opie has managed, not only to capture a likeness through very simple devices, but also to explore the ideas of motion and distance through his use of colour and line. His wall paintings were originally set to contextualise his sculptural work, and installed by handymen, following rules set by the artist.

There are hills in the distance (c) 1996 Julian Opie born 1958 Presented by the artist 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T07191

This makes it an excellent theme for a simple kinetic piece. Though this is a very simple artwork compositionally, getting a likeness in its various proportions proved quite a challenge. How to depict mountains when the angles are subject to change? How to balance the proportions of the foreground and background, when they do not have a definite shape? And how to convey motion smoothly without compromising the overall likeness of the landscape?

This was done through careful observation of the original piece and study of the proportions between fields of colour. A series of rules were derived, and applied using JavaScript and HTML Canvas technologies to create a piece which is surprisingly close to the original, maintaining the graphic and abstracted nature without losing the likeness to the theme depicted.