Taken from the Julian Opie’s Eight Landscapes series (2000), Rain Voices Surf is a digital print showing a seaside landscape rendered in the artist’s realistic, graphic style. 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.
Created from photographs taken by the artist, then scanned and altered digitally, this print is void of detail and simplified through the use of block flattened colour. Opie thus produces a generic image of the landscape that strikes a sense of familiarity within the viewer. Titling the images with descriptions of sounds he heard whilst taking the photographs, Opie explained “Things in my experience don’t look photographic. When I recall the things I did in a day, for example, it’s not as a series of photographs, high resolution pictures. It’s a series of images which resemble symbols and signs. It’s like another language.”
In simplifying Rain Voices Surf from the original photograph, Opie both draws from his personal experience but depersonalises the image to allow the viewer to create their own unique interpretation. Much of Opie’s work has been compared to the digitally rendered landscapes of video games in the way that they mimic a simultaneously familiar yet otherworldly sphere.