The Question and Answer article series joins two creative minds from a range of backgrounds to better understand the transformation of our cities. Enjoy musician Nelly Furtado’s inspiring question and artist Slinkachu’s insightful answer.
2008, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. As a result, the cities of this world are becoming bigger every day. How does the growth of size influence the quality of life of the inhabitants? Can a city become too big to be a nice place to live?
Are humans in giant metropolis getting lost? Or is it the opposite: Does a bigger city functions and interacts even better with its citizens than a smaller one? Is a bigger place offering bigger opportunities? Traveling around the world I keep asking myself these questions; and I never get to the bottom of it.
Nelly Furtado asks: The bigger, the better – is that also true for cities?
Slinkachu answers: I started my little people project in 2006, leaving miniature figures around the streets of London to explore the way we interact with the city and the problems that living in a giant metropolis can cause. The loneliness of a modern city, that sense of being lost and overwhelmed, is definitely a theme of my work.
Over the past couple of years I have travelled to many other cities around the world, abandoning my little people on the way, and what struck me most is how similar modern cities are, no matter where they are or what their size. You can stand on the street corner of modern Beijing and if it weren’t for the signs, you could be in Moscow or London or Paris. And as cities become more similar and the world becomes smaller, our problems become the same too.
The modern world encourages us to be isolated and scared of the people who live next door. We surround ourselves with our technological gadgets to keep the outside world at bay. But the bigger a city is, the more possibilities it presents. Perhaps we should take advantage of the opportunities that expanding cities offers us. Perhaps we should use our technologies – our smartphones and online maps and social networks – to get out there and explore the city, to meet all the different types of people who share our day-to-day experiences of the metropolis.
Perhaps the city gives us the similarities that could allow us all to get to know each other – and not feel so lost and alone. Unfortunately I don’t think many of my little people have realised this yet. Like most of us, they are still wrapped up in their own small world. The city, for them is vast and unforgiving. Perhaps it is all a matter of perspective.