Cowbells Tractor Silence is a print from Julian Opie’s Eight Landscapes series from 2000, that shows a very thin strip of countryside landscape with most of the composition filled with beautiful blue sky. Each image in this series was mounted with sound systems, playing the sounds described by the title or digital LED panels displaying the words of the title one by one.
Just as with others in the series, this print has a three-word title that alludes to objects and sounds not present in the actual work. By merely suggesting these items, Opie draws attention to their absence. This in turn, encourages the viewer to reflect on the real-life experiences of viewing a landscape, something that engages all of the senses.
Opie depicts this landscape from a distanced perspective that consequently makes the print devoid of any human presence. The composition is dramatic in its preoccupation with empty space and thus works to create a generalised impression of a landscape that may seem familiar to many, like something the view has seen in a film. Using his simplified visual language, Opie marks the landscapes with symbols from everyday life such as a telephone pole, trees and a house, urging the viewer to project their own experiences onto the depersonalised image.