We were all surprised and delighted by the response to the first Kick About, with a whole range of work in a variety of media triggered by Max Ernst’s 1955 painting, Moon In A Bottle. We got sculptures and paintings both analogue and digital, drawings in pastel and in Sharpie Pen, animated loops, and even a verse or two of original poetry. The Kick About #1 also garnered interest from other creatives up for a bit of running around, which means this second edition is a veritable cornucopia of creativity.
This time out, our prompt was a single word: metropolis. When I look across this eclectic range of work, I’m reminded of another collection of cities – Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book in which Calvino describes an array of architectural marvels, all of them different, but all of them ultimately revealed to be expressions of the characteristics of only one city – Venice. Here too, a single name for a city inspires multiple impressions.
“Most everything I own is in storage, and I do not have many collage materials in my temporary apartment. But I do get the NY Times delivered, and I cut them up for what I’m working on as needed … I took two of the obituary pages from last Sunday’s paper and collaged it with images and headline haiku collected from the last month’s papers.”
Kerfe Roig, Headline Haiku: Metropolis, collage
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a painting a day as part of the #MaySketchaDay. It’s been fun, but also tough to consistently make new, interesting things. However, when the theme word Metropolis showed up I took a sigh of relief. Not purely because the Fritz Lang film Metropolis is a huge inspiration to me, but also because it’s the kind of word that I could apply to a lot of my work. Big, bulking cityscapes with dark corners, glimmering towers and hidden stories.
So, in response, I made a couple of neon-British industrial cityscapes. If Blade Runner took place in Manchester maybe? Due to the nature of #MaySketchaDay I have to be pretty quick, so to speed up the process I take my old paintings and collage them together as my starting point. In the way of Gestalt psychology, this noise eventually begins to express pattern and shape, and from there, the painting starts to take hold.”
Watch Jordan paint live at twitch.tv/jordan_buckner
“It started life as a doodle, became a drawing, then in Photoshop was turned into a fanzine cover for Beam 10 (X).”
“A ray gun prop inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis created in Autodesk Maya. I set a challenge of a day’s build/design (plus a few hours of edits) and made it up as I went along!”
“It’s safe to say we are pretty crammed in here in Yokohama, a city of nearly 4 million inhabitants perched on a series of rocky hills overlooking the Tokyo Bay. Space is at a premium and geometric tower blocks, condominiums and apartments dot the landscape to the backdrop of rusting factories and billowing smokestacks. It’s hard not to think or see metropolis whenever I step out my front door. It’s also hard not to think about Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi film Metropolis because I love it so much. For this Kick About then, I’ve reimagined my local area as some sort of lost production set for that film. I’m more of an old-fashioned traditionalist when it comes to photography but going with the theme I’ve harnessed the futurist power of my phone and its camera to create my very own and very local metropolis.“
“My prompt was Mother-city; the hub providing settlers to beyond, with the sparrow characterising community and Springtime nest building. The unanchored nature reflects a very common feeling. HB pencil, on Artistico Fabriano 640gsm hot pressed. 77cm x 56cm. These drawings demand 24 hours commitment, as nothing is forward planned, usually reaching completion in 3-5 days.”
“The current theme is Metropolis, which could mean any metropolis, but I have taken it to be the 1927 German expressionist Sci-fi film by Fritz Lang, because it’s one of my favourite films. I have fond memories of being taken along to it as a teenager by my big brother. My eyes were nearly popping out of my head … some of the most compelling memories of the movie for me were the scenes in the Rich Men’s pleasure gardens. The Pleasure Gardens are extraordinary. They are stupendously opulent, and are filled with tumescent plants and feature a scalloped grotto and various fountains…”
“I became rather inspired by some cinematic B-roll footage of Shanghai, and several images of empty, dystopian style environments. This piece soundtracks the emotions and ‘point of view’ of a person as they move with a steady pace through this cityscape. The architecture builds around them and the barren day passes and transforms into a frantic nightlife. The heavy, clean drums give the music a heavy and prominent pulse, defining the slow but steady movement and the jazzesque chords are supposed to mimic the music associated with these places and spaces. The use of contemporary, electronic sounds are to further add to this sense of a mundane, dystopian forest of concrete. I used FL Studio Mobile on my Ipad to write the actual music and mix the parts. The wind and city soundscapes were added afterwards on my laptop and mixed in Garageband.”
Benedict Blythe, Metropolis V3, May 2020
“All I could think of was modernity and buildings, a lot of them. It started as a De Stijl influenced doodle, which then turned into a more constructivist piece and finally a bit more tweaking and ambience. A lot of fun during the process.”
“The following images are photos of models I put together for a touring stage production of Hansel and Gretel that I worked on in 2018; you can read more about the production in a blog post I wrote while we were developing the show here.
We devised an approach to the staging that used a lot of children’s toys for the table top models and for the screen projections. The toys added an additional poignant, emotional quality to the music and words and gave the Hansel and Gretel puppet characters something to interact with. For some architectural elements we used toy building blocks. We painted them in monochrome tones to suggest an environment without pulling too much attention away from the music and words.”
Kevin Clarkson, Metropolis, Acrylic on board
“Metropolis, a prompt that couldn’t help but be met with an onslaught of quarantine consumed media, meaning that those initial visions of bronzed skyscrapers somehow found themselves in a rather uncomfortable blend of Mad Max and the Peaky Blinders! A mingling that resulted in a somewhat smoky poem…”
“I took the notion of the ‘Metropolis’ as an overcrowded and oppressive place and projected it into one possible future, a mildly dystopian and ugly one, where there’s evidence of human ingenuity but very little evidence of humanity.”
“We absolutely loved doing this kick about, thank you Phil for inviting us in! First and foremost, we’d like to thank the Pexels video community for the fabulous free footage. In terms of workflow, the Forces are experimenting with an improvised approach to composition. We have a bunch of loops in Ableton live, and a bunch of samples in an iPhone app called CueZy (which is fantastic for live performance). We’re then running another iPhone with synths including a couple of awesome apps called TC-Performer and TC-11, and using piano, rhodes and other samples on Logic. The idea is to use sound more as colour, so we can improvise in response to visuals – hence why we loved the Metropolis project. All compositions are just recorded down to a stereo out, so there’s no going back and re-editing – what you hear is all a single take. We hope you enjoy, and we can’t wait to see what everyone else has come up with!”
“It’s pastels on paper with a bit of Photoshop editing. I had German 1930s film sets in mind.”
“The pandemic has kept us out of our daily life and activities. We were cut off from life itself, but we are coming back to life using beauty – here represented by the sinamay roses. The tiger whiskers attached to the rose depict our strength. We’re taking back our metropolis, using our sense of style as our means of protection.“
Piece made from Sinamay fibre, eco friendly and sustainable.
…and a bonus ‘metropolis of string’ “I started thinking about the networks, the connections that make up a major city – the roads, the cables, the lighting, the energy. My thanks to the photographer for his skills.”
“I lived in this building for two years, in Taipei. It’s in a back road of the red-light district. The lane is full of gentlemen’s clubs in the basements and bars on street level. The strip is teaming with marauding businessmen and pop-up food vendors in the evenings, dying down at around midnight when everyone packs up or goes downstairs. The building itself has five floors and no lift, with a long staircase heading right to the top in a single column.I lived in an illegal extension on the top floor, a fairly common arrangement in Taiwan. The walls shifted from side to side during earthquakes and in typhoons water dripped through the light fixtures. The apartment was clean though, and despite the grime outside, the area was intense and colourful and full of life. The rent was also very cheap.
Relating to the idea of a metropolis is the position of the building on Taipei’s tessellating grid system. Blocky buildings in different sizes and states of repair populate the back lanes, bumped right up to the edge of the road. Air conditioning units protrude out of grey broken tiles between steel and glass.
It’s by no stretch a beautiful city, but at night-time the neon lights switch on, and all the surfaces glow in greens and blues and pinks. Taxis slowly wind their way through the crowds with warm headlights casting long shadows into the distance. Everything mingles together and this vivid amphetamine version of Boris Bilinsky’s famous poster becomes far more appealing.
Returning home late at night, my building loomed overhead, bathed in neon and surprisingly still, with a few lightbulbs reflecting off protective bars, as the wiring gently hummed.”
Liam Scarlino, Linsen North Road, created in Cinema 4D
“I wanted to capture the energy and constant movement that encompasses a metropolis, like a long exposure shot caught in an instant with lots of energy in the line-work and brightness in the blinding city lights, I had a go of animating it too, as I want to incorporate such elements into my new animated short so it felt good to get some practice. I also couldn’t help but pay homage to Metropolis by Fritz Lang – it’s one of my favourites! Those harrowing tunnels with the workers heads hung low as they approach the underbelly of the city always stuck with me.”
“My submission was entirely inspired by the aesthetics of the Fritz Lang movie poster, and the opening titles to ‘Batman – The Animated Series’. I love the drama in the storyboards by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm. The bold, dramatic environments in the show and the movie poster really stand out, although they are quite different. Strong graphics and shapes appeal to me hugely and that’s something the Art Deco period had in spades!”
“I really enjoyed this challenge. It was like being back on my Art Foundation course!”
Phil Gomm, Tower, Pencil drawing > photography > Photoshop
“This is really an amalgamation of my favourite parts of the 1927 film. Perhaps it’s a little too literal an interpretation of the prompt, but it’s been fun to reminisce over my memories of watching Metropolis for the first time. Perhaps I need to watch it again soon…”
“A bit of Metropolis meets a bit of Egyptian meets some other stuff.”
Who’s up for another game? Courtesy of Kick-About team mate, Gary Thorne, we have a brand new prompt for a brand new creative challenge – see below for our latest theme and new submission deadline. Have fun – and anyone visiting who’d like to have a run around with us, then do please get in touch. The more the merrier.