Siren Radio Traffic is a print by Julian Opie from his Eight Landscapes series (2000). This print shows a digitally rendered image of a busy road in a city, seen from the perspective of a driver. Falling into the category of the artist’s well-known motorway images, this print is indicative of Opie’s obsession with depicting roads, travel and car culture that is compelling in its expression of anonymity and monotony.
Rendered in Opie’s trademark style of block colours and simplified shapes, Siren Radio Traffic seems to take on the visual language of road signs. In using this visual style that the viewer supposedly has an existing relationship with, Opie simultaneously depersonalises the work and encourages the viewer to engage with it. The resulting image is about the methods we use to look at the world, rather than being a concrete message on what it is we are looking at.
Through this depersonalised visual language, Opie also refers to the way in which motorways and car travel have become a space in the contemporary world where one can escape both mentally and physically. Just as one might lose themselves whilst following white markings on the tarmac, the viewer becomes lost in Opie’s Siren Radio Traffic that toes the line between familiarity and the unknown, with no context as to where the road leads.